Fantasy football saves NFL

Despite what speculating talking heads on ESPN and other cable news outlets say, the NFL will never die.

It?s been a popular thing lately to trash the National Football League, because of its falling ratings, rule changes, or the amount of fatal or career ending injuries that have been haunting the league for the last few years.

But I believe the league has a safety net that will keep it going forever; the nation-wide love of fantasy football.

I realized this last night as my cell phone was dying from checking in on the night game between the Indianapolis Colts and Pittsburgh Steelers, two teams I couldn?t care less about.

As irrelevant as the game was to my life, I needed to know what was happening, just because the guy I was playing had some third-string wide receiver and a kicker on his team.

As a fan of the Chicago Bears, one of the saddest teams in the league this season, I should have given up on the NFL a long time ago. After all, this is a forgettable season and I probably won?t even remember who won this year?s super bowl a couple of years from now.

I will remember, however, how I fared against a group of guys I went to college with in a fake online game where we cheer for guys we?ll never meet to get us points that have no real bearing on the real world.

I wonder if professional athletes ever check the fantasy rankings to see where they are in comparison to the rest of the league.

I?m not a professional athlete, and won?t be unless my golf game does a complete 180-degree turn in the next couple of years, but if I was, I think I would care.

As I walked back to the sideline after a long touchdown catch in the last game of the week, it would be hard for me not to think of all the people at home that had their face in their hands because I just put the final nail in their playoff hopes.

That really has to feed an athlete?s ego, knowing that thousands of people are sitting there on their couches at home, cheering for or against him because of the fake online victory they?d get if the cards fall their way.

I?ve been a part of a league for a few years now, and it really has turned professional football around for me, despite cheering for a team that constantly lets it?s fans down.

Sure, we lost again this week and probably won?t make the playoffs for the next five years, but you know what? Some random running back who I?d never heard of scored a couple of touchdowns in garbage time of a blowout game, and that means I have bragging rights over some dude I had biology with my junior year.

I challenge you, if you?re not an NFL fan, to join a fantasy football league with a few of your friends next year. Make sure to do a lot of trash talking about who?s going to win.

Much like when you fill out a bracket during the NCAA basketball tournament, you?ll start caring about people you probably would have never heard of.

You?ll get the app on your phone. You?ll check injury updates and you?ll be paying attention to every game like never before.

As long as this country stands tall, the NFL will be standing right here with it, no matter how many dumb rule changes they make, or how many C-list cities they give a team to.

Because no matter what happens, there will always be people like me, feeding their ratings just to see if their random group of players can score them a pretend victory over their sister?s ex-boyfriend?s co-worker in a game that has absolutely no effect on real life.