The relationship that exists between NFL players and fantasy football players is a weird one. On the one hand, fantasy football has made certain players—like Falcons running back Devonta Freeman, for example, who is near the top of the Pro Bowl voting right now—household names. On the other, most fantasy football players don’t actually care about the guys on their team; they only care about the stats that they put up. So if one of their players gets knocked out for the season, their first thought isn’t “Man, I really hope he’s OK and comes back better than ever next season.” It’s “OMG, $^%& THAT GUY FOR GETTING HURT! MY TEAM IS SO SCREWED NOW!”
It’s why some players like Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart hate fantasy football. Stewart—who will help the Panthers take on the Cowboys today—spoke with the New York Times this week about his disdain for all things fantasy. He understands how good fantasy is for developing interest in the NFL, but he also thinks it has created a disconnect between players and fans.
“It’s not fantasy, it’s real life,” he said while speaking about his chosen profession. “These are guys who have actual families. This is a job. It’s not fantasy.”
Stewart went on to say that he finds it strange when people talk to him about fantasy whenever he goes out.
“You see somebody when you go out and they say, ‘Hey, man, I need you for my fantasy team,’” he said. “I’m like, ‘Wait, I need this for my job. Forget your fantasy.’ What’s important here? You making a couple dollars in an easy format or me providing because this is my job?”
And he finds it really strange when fans of other teams compliment him. He told the Times that, after the Panthers’ win against the Redskins on Sunday, a Washington fan actually congratulated him because of how well he played during the game. It helped the guy’s fantasy team, even though it hurt his real-life team.
“Where’s the loyalty there?” Stewart asked. “It just feels weird. I think they don’t look at us as human anymore. I think they look at us as an opportunity.”
He does raise some interesting points—and it does make us feel a little bit bad about how much time we all spend "playing" fantasy football. You can check out the entire NYT article on Stewart and fantasy football here.
Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[via New York Times]