Hey, Mr. Fantasy…

Well, the Vikings are through for the year — only one week later than expected — and I watched 15 1/2 of their games this season. Not a bad percentage for a football fan, I suppose, but what I find somewhat amazing is all the non-Viking games I didn’t watch this year.

I used to catch about half of each Sunday night game and most of the Monday night games, while also intently following NFL news via ESPN, Sports Illustrated and several websites. This year I don’t think I tuned into a single non-Viking Sunday night game and saw maybe one half of one Monday night game. Meanwhile my Sports Illustrateds would lie around for a couple of weeks before I got to them and I never used my ESPN Insider access.

Time to cue the Invasion of the Body Snatchers music?

“Come on, ref, he was out of bounds!”

Not really. It’s just that a little more than a year ago I decided that I was going to “retire” from Fantasy Football after 23 years as an owner and Commissioner. I felt a few mental twinges during the NFL pre-season this year when I felt like there was something I was supposed to be doing, but that wasn’t unexpected. Hey, there’re still times when late summer/early fall roll around where a certain smell in the air or texture of the earth makes me think I should be at football practice, and that’s been more than 30 years!

So, this year, there was no draft to prepare for, no off-season free-agent transactions to review, no clever team name to develop (I came up with a new name every season; my all-time favorite was Weapons of Mass Distraction, though the Rush Limbos was up there as well). The would-be draft week came and went and the NFL season started. The first shock of revelation came to me when I was discussing the season with someone at work and I said that we were only a couple of weeks into the season and it was too soon to panic. To which my friend replied, “Uh, it’s week eight.” Oopsie.

Weeks 13-16 went by like any other for me this year, though this was typically the fantasy play-off season. Today was the first day back at work after the Christmas/New Year’s break and the day I’d usually be collecting outstanding league fees from the slow-payers, or passing out cash to the winners — or looking forward to taking my own winnings down to Best Buy.

And you know what, I don’t miss it a bit. It was strange how easily my quest for knowledge regarding rookies, injuries, sleepers, busts and dark horses melted away. I still enjoy watching the game, but most of the games don’t interest me enough to re-arrange my life appreciably. Now when I see that some player has scored four touchdowns in one game — or suffered a season-ending injury — I don’t exult or scream (if it was one of “my” players) or think of sending a gloating “sympathy” email to my fellow-owner who’s starting wide receiver just shot himself in the leg.

Well, maybe I do miss that part a little bit.