How I Found Out My Fantasy Football League Was A Ponzi Scheme
The buy in was 50 bucks, but my latest trip to the Coinstar at Ralph’s (a grocery store, for everyone not from SoCal) had yielded a big haul, so I agreed to play. The league consisted of a few stand up gents, some of whom I knew personally, and frankly I needed a reason to justify watching NFL games on Sunday when I could “clearly be hiking” with my girlfriend (her words). I Venmo’d the commissioner my share, having no idea I’d just signed up for what essentially became a Bravo reality series featuring insecure men and small amounts of money.
The First Sign
After the draft, the Commish emailed everyone and said that he was changing the rules to assign more points to defenses. Defenses win championships, right? Sounded good to me and everyone else was in accordance. However, he didn’t implement the change before the first game of the season, rather choosing to wait until after he lost his Week 1 matchup by a few points. Guess what happened when he made the change? He won. His opponent immediately called him out for this indiscretion, but like any good shade-meister he had a convenient excuse ready. He claimed he was unaware that the rule change would affect the outcome of that particular game, and had already said he was going to make the change. I didn’t actually hear about this until later in the year when the real shit started to go down, but this was his original sin. In retrospect, his opponent should have called an emergency meeting there and we should have pulled a mutiny on his ass.
Quick backstory on our antagonist in this saga: like any great character, the Commish has a lot of good qualities, and one supremely dickish, odd, whiny, fatal flaw: he’s WAY too competitive. I’ve seen this dude lose his shit over someone leading off second base in a game of kickball with friends. Just for a frame of reference, second base was a keg of Racer 5.
He’s been accused of taking extra resource cards in games of Settlers of Catan, adding strokes to people’s golf scores, and just generally being a bratty little seven year old when it comes to competition. Dude does not like to lose. When you’re talking about Michael Jordan flipping Monopoly tables in college, it’s cute. When you’re actually living through it? Not so much…
Back to Fantasy. A few people tried unsuccessfully to trade for LeGarrette Blount. Blount’s owner turned down his suitors, one of whom was our lovely Commish. Blount’s owner also happens to be one of my roommates. I was in need of an RB after Doug Martin went down, and so I offered up two solid receivers for the Pats bruiser. My roommate mulled over the offer and ultimately accepted the trade. THEN, later that day I get a text (and then a group email) from the Commish saying that it’s his job to police any transactions that are clearly unfair or favor one player, and he is going to veto the trade.
I appreciate your concern, Fantasy Fuhrer, but this is Blount we’re talking about, chill the F out. Once again, in retrospect, we should have overthrown him at this point, but I digress. When others started to chime in on the email that they were totally fine with this trade and that the Commish shouldn’t be sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong, he became defensive and claimed my roommate and I were colluding to beat him (I was playing him the following week) and that this was clear COLLUSION! Now I’ve been called a shifty pie thief, dirty douche nozzler, and a ne’er-do-well, but never a COLLUDER. He made me sound like I was a multinational grain feed company fixing prices or something. Anyway, I ended up winning my matchup against the Commish (which I must admit felt pretty damn good), but I suspect it didn’t help matters down the stretch.
I was out of the country for the playoffs, but logged in enough to know I had lost my semifinal matchup against the eventual champ. I held my head high enough to make the necessary lineup adjustments for the 3rd place game against none other than our beloved Commish/Dark Lord. I ended up winning that matchup behind a wild performance from late season pick-up Zach Ertz and consoled myself knowing that I would at least be getting my money back. Then it hit me: there was never any mention of a prize breakdown structure. Surely I must have missed that email, right? Nobody else in the league ever emailed asking what the payout was, so I just assumed it was a normal league where third place at least got their money back.
One of the morals of this story: NEVER assume things are all good. After the league ended, I ran into my buddy who got second place. He told me that during the semifinals, the Commish tried to sub a player out who got zero points, and when he got called out for it, claimed it was a joke. I’m guessing the Commish is a huge fan of The Big Bang Theory because this wasn’t funny, at all (much like the show). The electronic hazing took place via a text chain I wasn’t a part of, so this news had me feeling like Miley Cyrus standing in the face of a wrecking ball.
My buddy said he sent like a million requests on Venmo for his 2nd place winnings, but our shady Commish/account manager wasn’t getting back to him. He then peppered in the fun little detail that the Commish/hobo grifter was actually paying himself $50 for 3rd place, and $100 more for two superlative awards: “most points in a season” and “regular season champ.” At this point I fully expected a 40-year-old Ashton Kutcher to jump out from behind a bush with a backwards Von Dutch hat and tell me I was getting punk’d. What kind of monster just makes up awards to give himself at the end of the season? This dude clearly watches too many Kellyanne Conway interviews.
I sent out a group email kindly reminding everyone that I got 3rd place. I also wondered aloud what the fuck these superlative awards were. Did our Commish have a poor showing in the High School yearbook, or did he get “Most Likely to Swindle Friends out of Money” and the prophecy is just now coming true? The Commish/Bernie Madoff protégé then promptly sent me $50 and claimed that 1st and 2nd place had been paid as well and everything was all good. Except that it wasn’t.
When pressed about the bullshit superlatives, he sent everyone a screenshot of a 2.5-year-old conversation between two randos he played with in 2014, which apparently “explained” the payout structure, including the superlatives. He said it’s been this way since 2014, and even though this was a new league with all new people in it, he didn’t feel a need to explain it to us. What a fuckboy. Did I use that right? No? Whatever, fuck him.
The Aftermath (
Feat. Dr. Dre and Eminem)
I don’t know if I have ever been so mad about something in my life, which I realize is depressing on some level, but I was ready to go buy a pitchfork and round up the mob. We would’ve all had to take a big-ass Uber, which would have been expensive, but I would have gladly used my “winnings” to continue publicly shaming this swindler.
Some who were closer to the Commish called for an intervention, while others SMH’d and rolled their eyes. We all vowed never to play with him again, but I can’t help but think that’s not really enough. What is the appropriate punishment for some shit like this? Part of me wanted to handle it elementary school style, where you just pop someone in the face for making up a bullshit move during four-square. The more mature, adult part of me wanted to break into his house and defecate on all of his belongings. I guess I’ll have to settle for something in between.
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