Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

29 Aug 2011

MMQB: Arian Foster Also Hates Fantasy Football

In this week's MMQB, Peter tells you his favorite FOA 2011 quick facts! He also talks about the Mario Williams experiment, Da'Quan Bowers' draft day fall, Cowboys Stadium, the Saints as big free agency players, and the beginning of the Kevin Kolb era in Arizona. Oh, and Arian Foster agrees with Todd Haley that fantasy football players go a bit overboard.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 29 Aug 2011

94 comments, Last at 01 Sep 2011, 8:23pm by DEW


by zzyzx :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 11:48am

Shouldn't the headline be a link to the article? It's not in my browser at least.

by Joseph :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:13pm

Same for me.

by Temo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:18pm

Rivers finally was willing to do what no other FO writer has dared and eliminated the link to MMQB. Soon there won't even be an extra point for it. Baby steps.

Or he just forgot. I prefer the brave young writer taking a stand angle though.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:30pm

Not to sidetrack the thread, but I actually like the link. I never read the article, but if there's something groundbreaking in it, the short layup by FO or the commenters will often recap it. The Cliff's notes if you will.

by Temo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:40pm

I know, I'm just spewing. I read this thread more than anything on FO until the season starts and Audibles/DVOA stuff comes out.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:40pm

Even if I don't plan on reading MMQB I'll still click the link on FOs site. Perhaps conspiracy theory, but I figure there has got to be some benefit for FO in the form of income and/or site mentions by PK the more hits they provide his articles.

I already read MMQB this week but I'll still click the link just because I like to think I'm helping out my favorite NFL site.

by Rivers McCown :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:09pm

Me too. Lets make sure that's the angle whenever I make a mistake!

by Tom Gower :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:49pm

Fixed, by which I mean link added.

by zzyzx :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:29pm


by annwsunnys (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 10:45am

His job is to entertain me. I don't care what his opinion is about how I should be entertained. It's like Kevin Bacon complaining about the six degrees game--he's only more popular because of it.
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by Eddo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 11:54am

"On Sunday afternoon, Foster, a thoughtful guy who writes poetry and doesn't buy into the idea that famous football players should be seen and spout only cliches, tweeted this: '4 those sincerely concerned I'm doing ok. 4 those worried about ur fantasy tm, u ppl are sick #nfl'"

That's a sensible sentiment, I guess. But are people worrying about the effect on their fantasy team really any different than fans worrying about the effect on the Texans' playoff hopes? Why single out fantasy football?

by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:33pm

Yes, there is a difference. Arian Foster's job is to play running back for the Houston Texans and do his best at helping them to win games, make the playoffs, and achieve team success. That's the same thing that Texans fans are concerned with. That is, they're cheering for him to achieve the same thing that he's trying to achieve. Fantasy football fans are cheering for him to amass statistics that give them fantasy points and help the fantasy player achieve a personal goal of winning in their league. There's some overlap, but there's ultimately a difference.

Unless, of course, Foster is the kind of guy who checks his stats every game, gets annoyed if the coach takes him out when he's at 98 yards, and focuses on the numbers. For guys like that, the team fans are the ones who are out of sync.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:24pm

His job is to entertain me. I don't care what his opinion is about how I should be entertained. It's like Kevin Bacon complaining about the six degrees game--he's only more popular because of it.

It wouldn't be ridiculous to suggest that the NFL as a whole, and particularly the weighted random number generators, enjoy increased popularity because of fantasy football. See how he feels about fantasy-football-derived popularity next time he needs to negotiate a contract.

by FrontRunningPhinsFan :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:36pm

That's basically what I thought at first when ESPN only reported the tweet. But to be fair, in the article he says:

"It's good for getting the people who aren't normally into football -- they watch the games," he said. "But I think it's changing the way people watch the games. They're more interested in stats ... That kind of takes away from the reason we play this game, and that's to get a ring. Don't get me wrong -- I love my fans. I love our fans of the game... But don't get mad at a player because he doesn't perform for your [fantasy] team."

Whether he was doing damage control or felt that way all along could be debated, but I credit him with at least realizing what he said could be construed the wrong way, taking action, and recognzing that fantasy football is a good thing for the NFL.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 8:14am

I suspect that the real point is that when a guy like him gets injured, he gets bombarded with two types of tweets - ones from Texans fans saying things like "Get well soon man, we need you out there" and ones from fantasy owners saying things like "WTF man i jst drafted u in my #fantasy team u better be gud 2 go week 1". Fans love their team's star players (as a rule). Fantasy players don't necessarily.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:52pm

"His job is to entertain me."

His job is not to entertain you. Never has been. His job is to play football. If the Texans wanted him to play FB because that helped the team, it'd be his job to do that. That would totally piss off his fantasy owners, even if it made the Texans better and even if Foster liked that new roll better. That is what he was articulating.

by Temo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:58pm

So is football not entertaining?

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:06pm

Entertainment value is a by product of the game. Do you consider the most successful franchises to be the ones that are most fun to watch, or the ones that win the most? The Texans don't pay Foster more or less based on how entertaining any particular fan finds him to be. We are not Foster's boss, even if we contribute money to the people who pay him.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:17pm

Entertainment is the not the by product. It is the main product of the NFL. Well played football is entertaining. If poorly played football was more entertaining. I'm sure the NFL would steer what it does towards what more people want to watch.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 3:06pm

Football started out as a simple sport that guys played because they enjoyed it. That was the game that grew in popularity into today's NFL. The sport was NOT invented to make money or entertain fans. That came along because enjoy watching well-played football. You are making a huge mistake if you think that players thinking of themselves as entertainers who are employed by the fans is a good idea. And, there are numerous examples of troublemakers over the past few years who thought exactly that.

It's extremely difficult to serve multiple masters. Players are paid by the team whose goal is to win games. If the Texans think they can win a big game with Arian Foster serving as a decoy and never touching the ball, they'll do that. Should Foster tell them to take a hike because that directly goes against his entertainment value to his fans and fantasy owners?

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 3:30pm

Please explain the expansion of American Football from it's humble origins of Rutgers-Princeton to its current state without invoking the concept of entertaining spectators for a profit. I'd love to hear it.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 4:46pm

Money chases crowds. Crowds don't chase money. If football were free, it wouldn't be any less popular. (More people attend high school football games than attend NFL games)

Rugby and Lacrosse -- football's two most similar sports, mechanically, don't have much in the way of profitability. And yet they have millions of followers.

Colleges tried for years to get rid of football from the 1890s through the 1920s before largely giving in, and instead generating profit from it. It was always the most popular of the interscholastic (and amateur) sports. Crowds attended because they wanted their team to win long before stats were even kept.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 6:05pm

I didn't say football was sport designed for the entertainment of spectators. I said the main product of the NFL is entertainment. That is a subtle but important difference.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 9:13pm

If the people watching the sport aren't being entertained, then who is? Or are you just saying that football is a subcategory under entertainment like walking the dog, getting ice cream, visiting the art museum, and a million other things? If that's your point, I'll gladly concede that. But it seemed earlier you were going much further than that.

I originally got on the poster because he said Foster's job was to entertain him. That simply isn't the case. The job of a pro football player is to do the bidding of coaches and GMs who have no goal beyond winning. If the best way to win is by handing Foster the ball 30 times they will. If they can win by handing it to him zero times, that will suit them just as well. They couldn't care less what the fans think about it. Foster doesn't get paid by fans. He doesn't directly answer to fans. He can have an incredibly successful career without any fan ever thinking he was entertaining to watch or a good pick for a fantasy team.

And it's easy to see why he might get irked that some guy who doesn't give a hoot about him or the Texans would be concerned about his injury purely because he "owns" him with his fantasy team. My hope is most players don't care at all what their value is in fantasy football, because that can only be a good thing when it comes to real football.

None of that is very controversial, but if you want to disagree, good on ya.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 10:10pm

I think you guys are arguing right past one another, and I don't think any of you has serious qualms with the merits of what the others are saying. If I may use myself as an analogy. I'm a software engineer by profession. My job is ultimately, to make my employer money. How do I do that? I do that by helping increase ad revenue. I do that by making ads work better. I do that by . I do that by designing and implementing software.

The NFL is in the entertainment industry. So ultimately the player's job is entertainment. He does that primarily by playing football well. Which of those things you want to call his job is a matter of which level of abstraction you feel like discussing.

The obviously pertinent difference between these two examples is that nobody sees or cared how I do my job outside of the people near me. The NFL players are visible figures whose behaviors have a shortcut to that entertainment concept, so they're somewhat more marble cake than we programmers are.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 11:40pm

Yeah, I think you've sorted this out.

by Nathan Van Dykken (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 10:20am

There's a legal distinction, however, between sport and entertainment. The "E" is now in WWE to ward off lawsuits from fans claiming they'd been duped into believing wrestling was a sport, rather than scripted entertainment. Sure, we classify sports as part of the entertainment industry, but sports are unscripted and the goal of those participating is to win, not to provide entertainment. Has Bellichick spent a second in his life caring what a fan thought of a play he called? Is Peyton Manning an NFL great because he was funny hosting Saturday Night Live? Players keep their jobs based on how well they play football, not how well fans are entertained. The term "winning ugly" is an example of how successful football can go against what fans like to watch. The NFL markets the entertainment properties of the sport and even tweaks the rules to try and produce the most entertaining style of play, but at its core football is a sport played to win with entertainment value being a side effect. Even when somebody pulls a crazy end zone stunt for the pure sake of entertaining the fans, it only comes about as a sideshow to the main activity of the game. And avoiding the appearance of being scripted is one of the main reasons the NFL has come down so hard against premeditated TD celebrations. They're fully aware that there's a line between being a sport and just another form of entertainment.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 11:18am

The 'E' is in WWE because they got sued for trademark infringement by the World Wildlife Fund.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 11:24am

"The "E" is now in WWE to ward off lawsuits from fans claiming they'd been duped into believing wrestling was a sport, rather than scripted entertainment."

Really? I always thought they got sued by the World Wildlife Fund.

And having now bothered to look it up, it seems I was right. Although the World Wildlife Fund apparently changed its name to World Wide Fund for Nature when I was three. Who knew?

Edit: and I see RichC beat me to it.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 4:23pm

They had to drop "Federation" because people thought they were a nation-state, not a sport.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 7:12pm

Entertainment is the not the by product. It is the main product of the NFL. Well played football is entertaining.

Football is the main product of the NFL. Well played football entails teams doing their best to win games. To win games teams frequently ask players to do things that may negatively impact their fantasy football value. If players' jobs were simply to entertain fans (and fantasy football owners) they'd resist many things their coaches ask them to do. This would not produce well played football. That's why I hope the vast majority always see themselves as football players first rather than entertainers. And if they want to remain employed, they'd also better grasp the fact that their checks aren't signed by the fans.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 7:19pm

Obviously fans still care more about winning than fantasy football, or else the NFL would probably change how it's setup to favor fantasy football.

You're contradicting anything I've said, in fact you are agreeing with me. Well played football is entertaining and that's what people pay to see.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 7:32pm

I don't think any players, coaches, GMs or anybody else associated with football would want bad football even if that's what fans wanted to see. So, that part of your comments I cannot agree with. I also draw a distinction between football players providing entertainment and being entertainers for entertainment's sake. I don't think that makes for good football. A few can get away with that attitude, but a little goes an extremely long way.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 10:55pm

None of those people would, but the owners would and they are the ones with the money.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 4:52pm

Consider basketball.

The main product of the Harlem Globetrotters is entertainment. The main product of the Dallas Mavericks is winning basketball.

It turns out that well-played and incidentally entertaining basketball is a better product than entertaining and incidentally well-played basketball. It's interesting that the Globetrotter's hey-dey was when they were a legitimately premier basketball team, as good as or better than many NBA teams, and not in their carnival side-show days when most decent NCAA teams beat them. It turns out that people like well-played sport more than they like clowns in short-shorts.

by DEW (not verified) :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 8:23pm

And as evidence that the same concept applies to football, for Exhibit A I present the XFL.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 11:16am

No, entertainment is not a byproduct.

Entertainment is the product.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:08pm

Is that not why you are here?

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 3:23pm

If nobody watches the games, he has no job, and has to either fall back on his degree in philosophy, or work summers for Bethlehem Steel like the old-timers did.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 4:46pm

If nobody buys cars the assembly worker has no job - but it's still not his job to sell cars.

Foster gets cut if he's bad, not if he's unentertaining. That means it's not his job to entertain. You would see a lot more PA Bombs if it was the players and caches job to entertain.

by Stats are for losers (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 5:06pm

I would be entertained by a team with satirically bad players, even if they weren't in the AFC West.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 6:56pm


You're seeing a clash of these competing ideas in Denver right now. There's a vocal contingent of fans that is convinced Tim Tebow is the answer because he's much more entertaining and exciting to them than Kyle Orton. Probably based largely on the fact that ownership pays him if he wins games--not if fans are entertained--John Fox is going with Orton.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 7:24pm

If memory serves, Deion Sanders made a point of saying he saw himself as an entertainer. That worked pretty well for him because he had Hall of Fame skills and playing corner and returning kicks are some of the most individualistic positions on the field. It doesn't work for most guys and having much of that attitude on your team is a recipe for disaster. The guy who stays home on the backside isn't entertaining. But he needs to stay home for the rare case when the play comes back to him. Get too many guys trying to entertain and be heroes and your team has no discipline. That's when you get receivers complaining about not having enough balls thrown their way even after wins, running backs counting their touches, QBs griping there aren't enough passes being thrown.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 9:18pm

"If nobody buys cars the assembly worker has no job - but it's still not his job to sell cars.
Foster gets cut if he's bad, not if he's unentertaining. That means it's not his job to entertain. You would see a lot more PA Bombs if it was the players and caches job to entertain."

This is exactly what I have been trying to say. More succinctly put than I have managed, but the same sentiments.

by Harrison Bergeron (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 11:54am

Did PK get Alanis Morrisette to guest-write the intro because of the storm?

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:05pm

Isn't that ironic?

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:02pm

So Foster decided to get revenge on all the fantasy football players who drafted him high by pulling his hamstring?

by Southern Philly :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:17pm

"I think the thing I learned this week that surprised me the most is that Dallas never offered Nnamdi Asomugha as much as Philadelphia did ($12 million a year)."

Jerry Jones admitted this weeks ago, and Peter is just now finding this out.

by Temo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:42pm

I hated it when it first came out, but I've warmed to Cowboys stadium quite a bit. I'm going there in September, and I'm looking forward to it, especially after the disappointment that New Meadowlands Stadium has been for me.

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 12:43pm

Also don't like fNtasy football. Not playing thid year. Lind of had enough. Too mich luck based bs.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:23pm

I like the luck part. It's like gambling. You can make some informed bets, and try to put in the players you think will do best, but at the end of the day the luck adds a big unknown which makes it's exciting.

by Shattenjager :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 7:19pm

I've spent many hours over the course of about five years working on putting together a fantasy scoring system and roster that rewards skill more and luck less. I think I have it, but I've wondered whether it would take the fun out of fantasy, especially since I will not ever play it for money.

by bernie (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:14pm

I hate fantasy football. Mainly because the shift in "journalism" recently has been towards bloggers, rather than actual trained journalists who have spent years honing their craft and spending time in the trenches researching what they are writing about. As a result, you get a bunch of people who base their opinions on a player's worth by how valuable they are in terms of fantasy stats. It's a shame, because it leads to a large amount of press for some truly over-rated players, which also adversely affects their place in the history of the game in regards to how good they actually were. It also leads to some very under-rated players, who do a lot to help their teams win, but maybe don't show up on the stats sheets.
If straight football is not enough, and you need to do something to make it more exciting for you, then maybe try online gambling. You have less time to wait for a payoff, you may actually learn some of the real factors that lead to winning and losing teams, and individual statistics start to mean a lot less to you.

by Temo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 1:44pm

As a result, you get a bunch of people who base their opinions on a player's worth by how valuable they are in terms of fantasy stats. It's a shame, because it leads to a large amount of press for some truly over-rated players, which also adversely affects their place in the history of the game in regards to how good they actually were.

I'm not saying you're one of them, but this is an argument made by old stodgy baseball types every time you talk about Jack Morris vs. Bert Blyleven. And it's a flawed argument there.

Of course the difference is that fantasy football is mostly based on shitty stats where as the baseball argument has shitty stats on one side vs. "good" stats on the other, but still.

by sundown (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:00pm

"...rather than actual trained journalists who have spent years honing their craft and spending time in the trenches researching what they are writing about."

That's a pretty idealized viewpoint of sports journalism. These are the same "trained journalists" who have always reported more favorably on the players they personally liked...the ones who gave the best quotes...or the ones who were most colorful. And looking back at the stories of the golden era, there was a lot more hanging out in bars and sharing drinks with players and insiders than hardcore research of the game going on.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:22pm

The move towards blogger style reporting was independent of fantasy football. It was mainly because newspapers for the most part are really poorly managed and the execs don't understand how to compete in the 21st century. If they need a hint, it's don't poorly copy what you can find on the internet, ie sensationalism based journalism designed to be spewed out as fast as possible. The Jay Marriotti's of the world were around before fantasy football got popular. He's done more damage to journalism than anyone trying to form an opinion looking over a box score.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 4:42pm

wait, what? If anything, the "shift in journalism" recently has been for anyone with an old-school pedigree to complain loudly about anyone who didn't get into the business the way they did, and to ignore the fact that the main reason why people are paying so much attention to bloggers is because there are plenty of bloggers who write better than "actual trained journalists."

There have always been good writers and bad writers. The main difference now is that more of both can write for people without having to make connections or toil away on the high-school sports beat while the local NFL writer falls asleep in the press box. That has absolutely nothing to do with fantasy football, nor with overrating and underrating players.

Aside from that, this is probably the least meaningful place to be lecturing people about how to follow football. Most of us are here because we're already interested in what factors help teams to succeed ... and many of us can not only watch for those things, but also play fantasy football. The place to be shaking your get-off-my-lawn stick is the SI or ESPN forums.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 6:47pm

Carrying on the theme of the thread ... is it the job of a journalist to tell the news or write entertainingly?

by Theo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:03pm

I'm apparently the only fantasy football player who doesn't care about the stats.
I still want the Steelers to beat the Ravens 3 times a year, the Cowboys go 3-13 and hope the Texans make the playoffs.
Sure I want to win my FF League, but that's secondary.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:26pm

I'm the same way. Won't draft a single Packer and I'm really hesitant to draft and Patriots, just because I don't want to root for any player on those teams to do well. I just consider it a mild diversion, which gives me some rooting interests in games I otherwise wouldn't care about. It also helps me follow whats going on in the league at large.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 4:46pm

I'm similar, except instead of avoiding players from teams I don't like I seek them out. As long as my team is going to crash and burn, may as well take the Eagles and Chargers down with me.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 10:10am

So it's YOUR fault! All along I thought the Eagles couldn't win because of bad personel decisions and coaching mistakes. You bastard!

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 8:20am

I'd certainly much rather the Texans made the playoffs than I won my fantasy league, but I have to admit I do find myself rooting for things like "Colts lose in a shootout so that Manning still racks up a ton of points". And there are no teams and almost no players who I won't bid on (it's an auction league) if I think they represent good value.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:28pm

He pimps FOA, which makes the fine people who run this site some money. He deserves credit for that, so, nice job, Peter.

Pointless aside--his comment about FOA mentioning how Pittsburgh's defense being the oldest defense in league history at 31.5 is an interesting tidbit of trivia. Tampa has two players 31 or older on the entire team.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 2:33pm

There is no problem playing Fantasy Football. There is, however, a problem with playing Fantasy Football for money. Money makes people do stupid things. To put it a different way, as a Packers fan, I would never cheer for Adrian Peterson to do well, and especially not against the Packers, but the idea of winning a Fantasy Football league with Adrian Peterson on my team puts the player into a different perspective.

That is not to say that gambling on Fantasy Football is wrong, or that people doing it are amoral. But, 95% of the time, people with an interest in an actual team will set that aside in order to win money in their league.

As an extension, I would say that fans are more fleeting, if anything. They are willing to follow the money, and thus trade for the player that more closely aligns with their goal of winning some real-life cash. Again, that is not to say that all people are like that, but a quick sampling of my office shows exactly one person in the 12-team fantasy league that will not draft anybody from an "enemy" team of their own. And, it appears, Patriots fans and Cowboys fans (two of each, each said "yes") are more likely to trade off "their teams'" guys for guys that will net them a win in any given week or season.

by Unverified (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 3:17pm

"But, 95% of the time, people with an interest in an actual team will set that aside in order to win money in their league"

So what? Why is my relationship with an NFL franchise required to be more important than my relationship to my fantasy team? I have a favorite team, but I'm not a diehard, and I bet most NFL fans aren't either.

The NFL is not some ultra-idealistic organization where loyalty and honor trump everything else. They're a freaking business, and they get far more attention from me than they would if fantasy football didn't exist. It's not like I'm cheering against my own brother out of malicious greed.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 3:42pm

The NFL is not some ultra-idealistic organization where loyalty and honor trump everything else.

Exactly. We aren't talking about the NCAA here


I do however find all the psychoanalysis of the right and wrong ways to enjoy FF entertaining.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 3:51pm

You are obviously very angry, for some unknown reason. So, here it goes:

First, I never said you HAD to be a hardcore fan. But saying you have a "favorite" team means that you likely (and I say that loosely, as you have identified yourself as having a favorite team) hold them in higher regard than the rest, for whatever reason. As such, you should want them to win, period. Against any other team, you want them to win. In any circumstance, you want them to win. Otherwise, why identify them as your favorite?

Second, and as an extension of the first, as a team you have identified as your favorite, you should want their players to do well. Even if you think Fantasy Football is merely tangential to the actual football on the field, if you have a player playing AGAINST your favorite team, you are realistically hoping for at least one player or unit to do poorly on your team. If you hope that your team does poorly in some facet of the game, how are they genuinely your favorite? Are they just geographically closer than other teams? Maybe they have your "favorite" color(s)?

That is sort of what Foster is saying here -- root for the interests of your "favorite" team, not the interests of your Fantasy Football team. He wants to be healthy to help the Texans and to have the Texans do well. He does not really care if your "favorite" team is the Colts and you just have him on your Fantasy Football roster, because you ultimately do not have his interest, and therefore the Texans' interest, in mind. You have your personal interests. Foster wants people to like the game of football and the teams in football and the players in football.

Now, do I think that means people like you are wrong? Nope. You may do whatever you want to do. But do I believe you when you say you have a favorite team, even if you are willing to cheer for a player going against them? Absolutely not.

But, please, keep being angry.

by JustaDude (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 5:15pm

"But do I believe you when you say you have a favorite team, even if you are willing to cheer for a player going against them? Absolutely not."

what if my favorite team is the JETS but my cousin is drafted for and starts for the Giants? If I wish my cousin well does that make the JETS no longer my favorite team?

I don't see how the above case is much different than Fantasy. In each case I have competing interests, how I choose to weigh those is a decision I have to make. I don't think the definition of 'favorite team' implies unconditionally cheering for them in all circumstances. Is it wrong to bet against your favorite team? What if someone gave you 100000 to 1 odds?

by BaronFoobarstein :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 6:05pm

How distant a cousin? I have a step first cousin once removed whom I've never actually met who plays for the Yankees. I still root for the Pirates (in that whenever I randomly hear news about the team I prefer it to be positive), but I also hope he plays well.

I agree with your point that it is possible to hold multiple rooting interests, even conflicting ones.

by dbostedo :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 6:07pm

"But do I believe you when you say you have a favorite team, even if you are willing to cheer for a player going against them? Absolutely not."

I'll respond to this as well. I have no problem with rooting for both your fantasy team and actual favorite team. Let's say my favorite team is the Steelers. And let's assume I have Andre Johnson on my fantasy team, and the Steelers are playing the Texans. What I would be hoping for is something like this :

-- Johnson : 10 catches, 110 yards, 2 TDs
-- Final Score : Steelers 34, Texans 14

If I could only have one or the other - a good day from Johnson OR a Steelers' win - CLEARLY I'm taking the Steelers' win. But what's wrong with rooting for the best of both worlds? How does that mean that I don't have a favorite team?

by Marko :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 9:41pm

I think part of the response is: What do you do/how do you feel during the game? In your hypothetical, you give only the final score and Johnson's stats, which obviously make you happy on both fronts. But let's say that Johnson and the Texans were shredding the Steelers early as they jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. How would you have felt as Johnson caught the first TD pass? Or when he caught the second TD pass? Let's say it's still 14-0 midway through the second quarter and Johnson has the 10 catches that he will end up with.

Are you happy at this point (when you don't know that the Steelers will storm back to win easily)? Or are you upset that your "favorite team" is getting dominated? If you are not upset, then I suggest that you aren't a dedicated fan of your "favorite team."

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 10:18pm

Replacing the Steelers with my own favourite team in your scenario, I'm annoyed that my favourite team is playing poorly but comforted that at least I'm getting fantasy points out of it. The former feeling is far stronger, but the sugar (fantasy points) at least helps the medicine (my team playing poorly) go down a little easier.

Now when my team's playing poorly AND my fantasy team's not scoring, on the other hand...

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 8:29am


Also, what about the weaker case, where your favourite team is only indirectly involved. Bad for the Colts is good for the Texans; is it ok for me to want Manning to have a good game against (say) the Saints?

Or how about if we leave fantasy out of it entirely. What happens when a team you actively like (but which is not "your team") plays a team you actively dislike, but where your team's interests are served by the team you dislike winning? Is it ok to be conflicted then?

This is too complicated for absolutes.

by zlionsfan :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 4:45pm

This, too. It makes no sense to pretend that the result of a game must be wholly "good" or wholly "bad", or else you aren't rooting "correctly" or whatever.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 6:10pm

I think having a favorite team just means you prefer that team to others. That's all. It doesn't even imply a strong preference.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 9:48am

I will respond downward from my original comment so I can catch all at once.

@JustaDude -- In an example like the one you gave, I would be hard-pressed to call you a "fan" of your cousin, so much as a "supporter." I know that is stretching into semantics, but you are not representing that particular player as you only identify with that player through a familial bond. It is a different emotion than being a fan. I am a fan of the Packers, but if my brother played for the Lions, I would still want the Lions to lose. I would wish my brother the best of luck in beating the Packers, and part of me would be excited that my brother was playing against MY team, because my "conflicting" interests converge, which makes the game that much more enjoyable.

@dbostedo -- This is the most common response I get from people: "The team that I am a fan can win while my fantasy star does well." That is all well and good, but as Marko says, how do you "feel" during the game when Andre Johnson is doing well? Do you cheer? Do you actively pull for him to do well, or do you replace it with "their offense is inevitable, so it might as well go through Johnson?" Either way, it is still a support of an "enemy by association" -- not that you necessarily dislike the Texans, but they are playing against your team, so, as a fan, it seems you should dislike them.

@Mr Shush -- The scenario, as presented, is not really something I had been asking when I asked around the office. I asked, in some form or another: "If your opponent quarterback was guaranteed more points this week than your current, and he was actually playing against your favorite team, and you had a definite trade for him, would you trade for him and hope for him to do well against your team in that week?" Most -- 11 of 12 -- people in the office league said yes. In your scenario, the "conflicting interest" is minor to the point of being negligible. You can still hope for the Texans to win the south, to beat the Colts twice a year, but still hope for Peyton to do well enough to beat the Saints. I am a Packers fan, but I still have a rooting interest in the Lions, except against the Packers, and I want them to win just enough games to not win the division; however, I still want to see them beat the Bears and Vikings every time they play.

@Kyle D. -- Your example is really not applicable here. I work for Raytheon, but when I travel, it is still very likely that I will fly Boeing. To make it easier, your scenario is now about two football teams: Apple = 49ers; Samsung = Cardinals. Player A is with the Cardinals, and Player B is with the 49ers. Against each other, Player A is not hoping that the other one does so poorly as to lose the game and then go on to 0-16 (or, in business terms, bankrupt). There is still some use in having the other companies do well -- innovation, competition, etc. You are just hoping that the 49ers do just enough to suck worse than you so that you can win this game and the division. In essence, you want your team to do amazingly, and the teams around them to do just enough to be competitive, because that is the game we want to watch. But that goal is skewed by fantasy football, and that is where the problem lies.

by Nathan Van Dykken (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 10:02am

But that goal is skewed by fantasy football, and that is where the problem lies.

You do realize that fans' thoughts and feelings don't actually cause the outcomes of the games, right? You seem totally stuck on this strange idea that there's some sort of gold standard for being a fan that fantasy owners are somehow falling short of. Odd thinking in an age of mercenary players and owners who'll move a team at the drop of a hat because some other city gave them a better deal.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 10:14am

When I was a kid, I used to think that I caused the Eagles to lose, because every time I changed the channel to CBS, the Eagles would give up a TD. It wasn't until much later that I realized that this was just because they were a REALLY bad team back then.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 10:42am

Er, whoosh? I think you are confusing my argument with one that I am not making?

The actual "numbers" outcome of the game has nothing to do with being a fan; numbers have everything to do with being a Fantasy Football owner. As a fan, you want your team to win every game, even if by scores of 10-9, 3-2, 50-49. You do not care how the game is won by your team, just that it is. In Fantasy Football, you want big, high-scoring games to get your fantasy numbers up.

Sometimes, in those 50-49 games, your team wins and your fantasy teams gets tons of points. Other times, in those 10-9 or even 3-2 games (which, I want to see that game), you are crestfallen because your fantasy team did not do well enough to grant a win, and as such, are not as excited that your team won. Sure, you may say aloud or think to yourself "Cool, my team won," but that is dampened by the fact that your running back did not run up the score to ensure your fantasy team wins the game.

There is a lot of crying when a player makes a smart play at the end of a game when he stops at the 1-yard line and wastes time instead of getting the touchdown. His team is ahead, and there are 30 seconds left in the game. But does that extra touchdown matter? It should not to a fan. Your team still won.

See the disconnect? That is further exacerbated when your Fantasy Players are on teams that are not your favorite team, because the conflicting interest puts you at a detriment either way. Say the player that stopped at the 1-yard line was your Fantasy running back, and his team was beating your favorite team. Twice the loss, and you are still upset. But you wanted him to get that touchdown because "at least I get something out of the loss."

Arian Foster hates you for that.

by Mr Shush :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 11:25am

Like I say, I think Arian Foster actually hates fantasy players because they send him borderline abusive Twitter messages when he gets hurt . . .

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 11:30am

"There is a lot of crying when [the patriots] makes a smart play at the end of a game when [run the ball into the endzone] and waste time instead of [punting from the 40] at the end of a game. His team is ahead, and there are 30 seconds left in the game. But does that extra touchdown matter? It should not to a fan. Your team still [lost]."

Lots of people bitch about things that don't affect outcomes at all.

How the hell is his game-watching preferences your issue? Why is it that us american's can't seem to keep from trying to tell each other how we should live our lives.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 11:56am

I am not telling anybody how to enjoy their football experience. Arian Foster brought it up, and we are having a discussion about the relative merits of both sides of the issue. Just because you are not very deft at lanaguage or comprehension does not mean I was telling anybody that they were wrong. (In fact, I explicity stated that earlier. But okay.)

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 5:00pm

You mean other than the measurable effect fans have on referees?

by dbostedo :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 4:06pm

Keith - As I pointed out in my particular example, the Steelers winning far out weighs any other consideration. To me, my fantasy players doing well against the Steelers is always just a bonus. If they held Andre Johnson to 0 catches and won that way I'd be happy.

So I don't really pull for Johnson in any way. If he's doing well, it's a bonus, but the results of the game itself trumps all. (FWIW, I also don't have lots of money riding on Fantasy Football...)

Look at it this way - I enjoy watching the Steelers win, but I enjoy it more when eating nachos. Likewise, I enjoy watching the Steelers win, but enjoy it more if Andre Johnson does well also.

So Andre Johnson doing well is kind of like nachos.

Either way though, I think the issue some folks might have is your implication that if someone DOES actively root for the fantasy team members, then they aren't real fans. It's not like it's anywhere near that black and white. There are infinite levels of fan-dom - from people who have a casual rooting interest to those who would beat up their grandmother for wearing an opposing team's jersey. Just because you fall somewhere in between doesn't mean you aren't a fan. I think that's the real crux of most people's objections, since you seem to be saying that unless you're on the grandmother-punching end of the scale, you aren't a fan.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 5:05pm

Thank you so much for the mental image of Andre Johnson covered in cheddar cheese and ground beef.

by Marko :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 6:22pm

The Andre Johnson/nachos analogy doesn't really work. Eating nachos does not affect the game (I will assume that you don't have some bizarre superstition and believe that if you don't eat nachos, the Steelers will lose). Andre Johnson's performance does affect the game. So eating nachos is completely independent of the Steelers' outcome, whereas the same cannot be said of Andre Johnson's performance.

As for your last paragraph, yes, that is the crux of the objection. Although I don't think you have to be on the grandmother-punching end of the scale to be a true fan. In fact, I think anyone who is on that end of the scale isn't even a good fan because he/she isn't very mature or intelligent and probably doesn't understand what is actually in their team's best interest. But I digress.

It seems to me that this issue is black and white, contrary to what you said. If your rooting interest is 100% with your team, then you are a "true" or "real" fan of that team. If fantasy football considerations cause you to ever root for something that hurts your team (the Steelers in your case) in any way, then you aren't as dedicated of a fan. So whether you are 99% Steelers/1% fantasy football, or 95/5 or 90/10, you are "less" of a Steelers fan than someone who is 100% Steelers. (For purposes of this discussion, I am leaving out considerations of fan intensity, knowledge, etc. So I'm not saying that a person who calls himself/herself a "huge Steelers fan" but couldn't name any players other than "Big Ben and the guy with the long hair" is more of a fan than someone like you who I assume follows the Steelers intensely and may be 99% Steelers/1% fantasy football. In other words, assume everything else is equal.)

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 08/31/2011 - 1:06pm

It seems to me you really are analysing this far too much.

by Unverified (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 4:45pm

I'm not actually angry, and I don't think my post came off as "very angry." But maybe it did.

I see your point, but I just don't think it's mandatory that I cheer for the "real" team over my fantasy team. My "real" team trades players, cuts players, etc. The whole cheering-for-laundry argument. They do all sorts of things I don't like.

I do have some sort of team rooting interests in most NFL games, because I have some opinion on most NFL teams. But it's a continuum rather than a binary scale.

I don't mind Arian Foster's view and think it is stupid that fans expect actual NFL players to care about their fantasy teams or their other bets on games.

"If you hope that your team does poorly in some facet of the game, how are they genuinely your favorite? Are they just geographically closer than other teams?"

It's pretty much geography, yes. Isn't that how most people get favorite teams?

It's a little annoying that I might end up having someone playing against my team sometimes, but I enjoy FF enough that I can handle that.

It's the Panthers, if you're curious. I'm not actually too impressed with them as an organization. But watch out for a newly motivated Jimmy Clausen to lead them to a ring this year.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Mon, 08/29/2011 - 7:49pm

For the record, I didn't think your post sounded angry. Not sure where that came from. I'm also rather amazed anybody could struggle so much with the everyday concept of competing interests. Players switch teams all the time. Are they all dead to this guy the second they put on some other team's jersey? How pathetic if that's the case.

We all have friends and family who work with companies that compete with the business we work for. Does that mean we need to hope they all get laid off tomorrow? I'm sure there are people working for Samsung that still really like how Apple products work. Should they be fired for even considering that somebody else was capable of making a worthy product? We deal with competing interests all the time. Why should sports be any different?

by Jerry :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 4:38am

I don't mind Arian Foster's view and think it is stupid that fans expect actual NFL players to care about their fantasy teams or their other bets on games.

This is the point. I'm sure Foster is always happy to run for 200 yards and 5 touchdowns, but if the Texans win without him putting up numbers, he probably hears a lot more "Why didn't u score more tds?" from fantasy players than he cares to. It's like bettors who complain that a coach didn't go for a touchdown that would have beat the spread; people who are focusing on something beside the simple win/loss have to recognize that the participants' interests diverge from theirs, and that the participants don't especially care about those other interests.

by RichC (not verified) :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 11:32am

This sort of stuff is exactly what Twitter is for though. If he can't handle those sorts of tweets, he probably shouldn't have a twitter account.

by GlennW :: Tue, 08/30/2011 - 12:19pm

Apparently Arian Foster doesn't "hate" fantasy football all that much (unless he also despises his own mother for gambling on his prospects):

The injury is "not as bad as I thought it was," Foster said, and he was able to jog on the side of Monday's practice. Asked about playing in Week 1, Foster replied "That's the plan." Hamstring injuries tend to linger, but we'd still be very hard pressed to pass on Foster in the top-3 picks of a draft. "I'm on my mother's fantasy football team, so I gotta do good," Foster assured.

Source: Nick Scurfield on Twitter

by MJK :: Thu, 09/01/2011 - 12:58am

Lucky for him that his mom had a good draft pick. It would suck for her to have to root against her own son a couple of times per season.