Steve Dugas, the red-headed step child of the YFFL, is one victory away from joining an elite list of owners in the YFFL Pantheon. The last two seasons have been agonizing for the 26-year old Dugas as he's had to watch his two greatest rivals win YFFL Championships. But judging by recent injuries to opponents, 2004 is shaping up to be the Merry Men's year.
Dugas has always been one of the more mysterious owners in the YFFL. He is believed to be the first owner to openly admit that his fantasy players mean more to him than his beloved home team, the Pats. If the same scenario was true in fantasy baseball, he would be burned at the stake by Red Sox nation. Dugas is also extremely loyal to his players and often times goes through emotional withdrawals following trades and cuts. Perhaps the most publicized Owner-Player relationship is the one between Dugas and Maurice Morris. The borderline creepy infatuation Dugas has with the Seattle special teams player has perplexed many owners around the league. Dugas has been reluctant to cut Morris despite the fact that he has yet to appear in a single YFFL game and has just scored one TD in his 3-year NFL career. Many owners wondered why Dugas cut LaMont Jordan instead of Morris last fall and many of us are still wondering today.
Say what you want to say about this owner who spends his Sundays skipping over Pats games and clicking right to Vikings, Saints and Seahawks games on his 36-inch TV, he has assembled a championship-caliber team through late-round draft picks, the waiver wire and trades. Daunte Culpepper started it all back in 1999 when he was a 3rd Round draft pick of the Merry Men. By 2000, Culpepper was routinely tossing TD passes to Randy Moss and simultaneously leading the Merry Men to a 10-3 season. 2000 was also the year Dugas drafted Shawn Alexander in the first round. Surprisingly, Alexander is the only first-round draft pick of Dugas that is projected to start this weekend.
Jerry Porter, for five seasons dubbed "Mr. 49-Yards", has recently benefited from an injury to Ron Curry and has become Kerry Collins' primary target. Drafted in the second round of 2000, Porter hasn't quite lived up to the hype yet but appears to be ready for a break-out season in 2005.
Dugas entered the 2001 draft primed to land a RB to compliment Alexander. He blew his first round pick on James Jackson but was able to land Deuce McAllister in the second round before he blew another second round pick on Skip Hicks. McAllister has had an up and down career and many critics believe he should be the UT player while Rudi Johnson should start at RB. The backfield of Alexander and Johnson would certainly be one of the best in the league.
With the backfield set, Dugas looked to fill the roster spot that has haunted his career the most - WRs. With Jerry Porter struggling and David Boston juiced up on 'roids, Dugas drafted Donte' Stallworth with the 6th pick in the 2002 draft. The injury plagued WR has yet to duplicate his rookie season and likely won't be in the Merry Men's Super Bowl lineup. Stallworth is usually the first name Dugas throws out as trade bait and his future remains in question.
2003 may have been the turning point in the Merry Men's 2004 Super Bowl run. In the draft they landed the All-Pro TE they desperately needed in Dallas Clark. Later in the year, Dugas picked up Rudi Johnson on the waiver wire giving him a valuable UT player. The pieces were in place for a 2003 Championship team!
But a funny thing happened...
The Merry Men didn't make the playoffs. In a game that will go down as one of the greatest YFFL games ever played, the Thugs narrowly defeated the Merry Men 37-34 in Week 13, ending the Merry Men's playoff hopes. Brock Forsey scored 10 points, Jerry Porter had 49 yards receiving and David Boston scored a late TD against his former owner sealing the victory. A dejected Dugas watched from the golf course as Bobby Sansone went on to hoist his first Super Bowl trophy and aptly title all future messages "Message from the 2003 Super Bowl Champion."
Dugas vowed changes in 2004 and promptly backed up his word. He got an insurance policy for Culpepper in a controversial trade with the Brothers for Gus Frerotte. He traded away his first round draft pick for an "idiot" kicker in Mike Vanderjagt. Finally, he traded his 2005 first round draft pick for Nate Burleson. Dugas let the league know he was committed to winning this year when he traded away his first round draft picks this year and next year. On Sunday, we will find out if all his hard work will have paid off.