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Jackie Marcus Schaffer and Jeff Schaffer Headshot

Obsession: Fantasy Football

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Jeff: "Obsessed." It's such a dirty word...

If "passionate" is a taking a date on a romantic winter sleigh ride, "obsessed" is stealing her scarf to smell it before you go to bed.

So saying I am "obsessed with fantasy football" makes it sound like I'm some weirdo who values puttering around with a pretend team over most other things.

Jackie: You are. Fantasy football is no longer just our hobby, it's our livelihood. We created a television show for FX called The League that revolves around -- you guessed it -- a fantasy football league.

Jeff: We wanted to do a comedy about people like us: People who know that few things in life are more satisfying then when the tight end you picked up off the free agent scrap heap scores a touchdown.

Jackie: Fantasy football takes football, the greatest American pastime and ultimate team sport, and reduces it to a celebration of individual achievement. Nothing more American than that.

Jeff: And the focus on players' stats is just another way to get closer to the sport we love. Like wanting to know the measurements of your favorite Playboy centerfold.

Jackie: I don't know if that analogy is more offensive or more dated. I think it might be a tie. And as every fantasy player knows, ties are the worst.

Jeff: As an interactive social unit you can't beat a fantasy football league. It's a like having a book club where the required reading is watching the NFL, and the discussions involve telling other members of the group to "take a ride on your suck stick."

I am in five leagues, each its own unique coterie, whether it's friends from college, comedy writers, or the grand daddy of them all my high school league.

Jackie: I find it better to be in ONE league and win it. Jeff and I are in a league with the cast of the show -- we call it The League of The League. I have won it before. How about you, Jeff?

Jeff: I believe that was a rhetorical insult.

Jackie: With the amount of energy and hours committed to winning a league, you would think that that $35 trophy was the cure for cancer wrapped in bacon. By the way, Jeff, did you even make the playoffs this year in our league? Because I did.

Jeff: And this is another reason fantasy sports are so popular -- because humans have an almost limitless capacity to gloat. In real life, there are so few opportunities to win. Flat-out beat someone else. Fantasy football lets us be what we really are -- just a bunch of australopithecines going at each other with a deer femur.

Jackie: And you don't just win. You win PUBLICLY. Because of the league message boards you can be triumphant at full volume. There's no workplace that allows you to insult your friend's intelligence, job, sexual prowess, choice of mate, or children. But in a fantasy football league it's not only allowed, it's encouraged.

Jeff: Exactly. Try finding a message board for a cooking club where people are making fun of the time you got your first hand job. I have been a comedy writer for along time and I can honestly say that some of the funniest things I have ever read have been on the message board of my high school league. It's a mix of bravado, invective and gallons of muck raked up from our past. And that exhilaration of jawing with your friends is exactly what we are trying to capture on our show.

Jackie: We love fantasy football. We don't care if people think it is an immature, offensive excuse for a sport. Because, like we said in the pilot of The League: "There are many things a man can do with his time. This is better than those things."

Jeff: In fact, we would have written this article sooner. But it's crunch time in the fantasy world, and we spent the weekend perseverating on our lineups, sweating out our teams' play and yammering on the message boards.

Jackie: Our obsession with fantasy football kept us from writing an article about how we're obsessed with fantasy football. And we are okay with that.