Saturday, March 10, 2007

Back to Reality

Ozzie had a conversation with Marv. Jamal had a conversation with Phil. Ed had a conversation with Ozzie. And just like that, Willis McGahee became a member of the Baltimore Ravens. At least as far as I can tell.

You see, just when I thought it was safe to leave the state; the Ravens went ahead and made one of the biggest trades in franchise history while I was on my way out of town for a long weekend in the Rockies. The first seven days of free agency started with a series of big-name departures from Owings Mills, but as my flight taxied from the gate at BWI, a new arrival was on his way in to Baltimore. And hopefully he booked a one-way ticket because McGahee is now penciled in as a Raven until 2013.

So what happened? Could it really be that simple? A casual conversation at the Sky Bar between two GM’s and all of a sudden one of the premier tail backs in the league is looking for shoes that go with purple.

Of course a few dots had to be connected in between. Jamal Lewis signed with the Cleveland Browns. Ozzie Newsome and his staff talked to Ed Reed, who spent two seasons on the field with Willis at ‘The U’, about the potential and work ethic of Mr. McGahee. But that seems like the meat of it. My only question is why no one called me.

I have so much insight to offer. Willis McGahee has played running back for me the last three seasons. I drafted him in the late rounds of my 2004 fantasy draft only to see his value soar during the second half of a spectacular sophomore season. Obviously, I kept him through 2005 (in which he was named as a Pro Bowl alternate) and then again in 2006. Thanks to the former #21, Canton FC (I came up with the team name while watching the World Cup) finished in third place 2 out of 3 years and won one regular season title in the Retired Orangemen Fantasy Football League.

I’ve lived through his ups and downs. I’ve kept my eyes glued to the LED’s underneath the SmartVision boards at M&T Bank Stadium, anxiously awaiting an up-tick in the number next to BUF. I was following along when he scored four touchdowns against the Seahawks. I scoffed at the emergence of Lee Evans who seemed to catch 77-yard touchdown passes every time the Bills scored, barely allowing Willis to get a carry, let alone a quick six. But now I will be watching in person. I will bare witness to each and every cutback, out pattern, screen pass, and scoring drive that McGahee manages to take part in. Due to official league rules (ROFFL not NFL) I can no longer keep Willis on my roster after three years on one team. Fitting, considering I would have to split my allegiances between a Ravens win and an extra reception for one of my starting running backs. (I’m not too upset, I have Laurence Maroney coming back in ’07 and thanks to the departure of Corey Dillon, he is looking like a first round pick in most leagues).

So now I shift my focus away from the big boards and back to the action on the field. Back to the importance of a lead block. Back to rooting for a defensive score. Back to the little things that contribute to a win in the real world. Back to reality.

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