By Pat Pitts
We all have “where were you when…” moments. We remember days where it felt like nothing could go wrong or days where the opposite occurred. August 28th is a day that I will never forget as long as I live.
I have been playing fantasy football for over ten years now. I have had some ups, but mostly downs. However, one transaction will haunt me forever. Some might say that I’m cursed.
After my first year of Fantasy Football, in what would become the 4th and Goal Fantasy League, I knew I had to make some offseason adjustments. Using my time before work that summer to read everything I could about Fantasy Football. Matthew Berry, Field Yates, and the whole ESPN crew gave me the resources that I needed to go into this draft and dominate, which I obviously did by drafting Julio Jones, Calvin Johnson, Peyton Manning, Demarco Murray, and having the sense to pick up Rashaad Jennings as a handcuff to Darren McFadden. I came out swinging like the Wonder Years and landed a first round knock out. (This was an 8-team league, which is just flat out silly now.)
I had the entire league coming up to me offering me more trades than a fast food restaurant’s lunchtime drive-thru. I shrugged them off one by one, until I let my guard down.
While doing what every high school kid does in the summer, I received a text one night during one of my nightly Call of Duty games with the Fantasy Clock Tower, Kronk and Wellis. Said texter wanted Peyton Manning, in which I laughed at the request. He countered with an enticing offer, an offer that I will never forget.
A consistent Top-5 fantasy QB and an RB3 with high end RB2 upside for one player. I needed depth at the RB position thanks to my ignorance to the fact Doug Martin was a one hit wonder and McFadden’s laundry list of injuries. One problem, I had to give up a valuable asset.
As I sat in a scorching Downtown Crossing MBTA station filled with a copy of Madden 25 in my hand, I made a decision that would alter time and space. I hit accept on a trade that has become infamous in my inner circle. I traded Peyton Manning for Cam Newton and Deangelo Williams.
I snagged Newton to pair with my WR core of Jones, Megatron, and DeSean Jackson and a deep virtual backfield; I was bound for a “Shiva” Bowl appearance.
Only one problem, record scratch, the year was 2013.
Do you remember how well Peyton Manning played in 2013? I sat and watched the Thursday Night season opener in agony. Touchdown after touchdown being thrown felt like a knife was stabbing me in the back every time a Bronco found the end zone. Worst of all, I sat down at the breakfast table that morning to jokes, insults, and debates about how I may have just pulled off the single worst trade in Fantasy Football history. But, it was only one game. Sure, Manning threw seven touchdowns, but he won’t keep this up. WRONG!
Fast-forward to the fantasy playoffs that I still somehow qualified for that season. I had a WAGON of a squad, however it was missing the final piece, that just so happened to be in the starting lineup of my semi-final opponent. The team I traded Manning to was my final obstacle before going to my second Fantasy Championship in four years.
Dez Bryant screwed me once again, the Lions let me down, and of course Peyton Manning threw another multi-touchdown game with close to 300 yards. And just like that, I was booted from the playoffs.
Since that season, I have been kept out of the playoffs thanks to a wildcard-type factor. Three years ago, Alex Smith’s first 30-point fantasy performance was left on my bench, causing me to miss playoffs by a points per week tiebreaker. Two years ago, Melvin Gordon’s injury along with another terrible trade ended my season around Week Nine. And just last season, a few draft picks did not pan out like they were expected to, which caused me to be a seller at the trade deadline.
In 2013, I made a mistake in an MBTA train station that innocent, high school Pat Pitts did not think would have repercussions for the foreseeable future. I love making mistakes because when I make a mistake, I learn from it.
I take this experience from seven years ago in stride. Since then, I have launched 4th and Goal, I have learned more about Fantasy Football than anything I learned in my actual education (sorry Dad), and I have won two championships in other leagues.
2020 is the year of the wild card. This year is for the absurd to become a reality. Your time is up and my time is now.