Patrick Mahomes goes first overall. I don’t know why I’m surprised. When he lost at the 2021 Super Bowl my girlfriend cried. She lived her whole life in Kansas City. I went to Michigan and grew up in Vermont. If there was going to be a Brady fan in the room it would’ve been me. There were none. Well we know he’s the goat now for sure, the oldest guy kept saying, that much is for sure, as if it wasn’t for sure at Ring 6, or Ring 28-3 before it. And I handed her a tissue then said, I bet there’s a lottery after each Super Bowl for ten lucky middle aged white men to kneel blindfolded in the basement of an undisclosed location and one at a time get to blow him.
There’s no money on the line in this league. The winner throws the draft party next year and the loser buys the booze. I bet they would all enter their names in that lottery if they could. There is an email chain before each draft and it gets to over a hundred messages easy and they’re all filled with carb heavy banter drenched in seven layers of irony and jabs about who’ll get lucky enough to draft Tom Brady. I’m sure I couldn’t begin to understand even if I’d met them in person but I have not and this year will be no different. I’m on speakerphone alone on my floor with two laptops open on a deflated bean bag chair. I pick second. I take Christian McCaffrey without even thinking.
There is money on the line in my other league. I care about it more. It’s a dynasty. I took over for a guy who’s team was so bad he left in shame. Two years later I won the whole thing. No one else in that league has ever owned Alvin Kamara or Patrick Mahomes. I drafted both on a whim in Round 11 or 13 their rookie year and held onto them ever since. There is honor even in fantasy. For God’s sake read Le Morte D’Arthur.
It’s not all above board though. I tell the rest of the league I have food poisoning. I want an excuse to be quiet. I’m awkward on the phone as is and I don’t know them personally. Besides my stomach does hurt. All I had for lunch was a box of Cheez Its and some sushi. It works to my advantage. I’m silent for long swaths of time and the guy drafting after me is a little tipsy. He keeps spilling all his sleeper picks and I snatch them up and I am thankful my painful shyness doubles as a viable strategy.
But at the end of the night I am unhappy. Not just for drafting a white running back. (Especially in a non PPR league when I could’ve just as easily grabbed Derrick Henry.) No. I am unhappy because I do not own Patrick Mahomes. We have a special bond now. I owned him three years in a row. I won two of those championships and made the playoffs in the third. But it’s not just about winning or I would be a fan of Tom Brady.
To be sure it troubles me that the future of the biggest sport in America is my age. Technically younger than me. But that is also the very reason why Patrick Mahomes inspires tears in young women’s eyes just as Tom Brady incites dribbles of precum and rabid salivation in bodies ravaged by time.
They may live and breathe. But they are symbols, not men, to you, to me. Whether or not he’s a bird person, I hate everything Tom Brady represents, just as I love Ma Homie, regardless of his perceived all time greatness. And I’m sure the oldest guy in the room (or basement of an undisclosed location as it were) would agree. After all, what are sports if not fantasy?