This is a post about what is quite possibly the geekiest thing I’ve ever done. And being I’m a professional geek, that’s really saying something.
It IS in fact about football, but trust me, it’s super geeky. I mean, I’ve always thought that there’s plenty geeky about football fans anyway–the obsessive tracking of stats, the unthinking devotion to your favorite franchise, even when it sucks, etc. Which, of course, leads us to Fantasy Football, which I’ve always said is actually way geekier than anything I do on a day-to-day basis. But I digress; this is NOT about Fantasy Football. Or rather, it’s not about the traditional definition of Fantasy Football.
So anyway, I’m a geek, but I grew up loving sports as well, especially NFL football, and one of my early video game obsessions was the Madden NFL football game series. One of my favorite things about Madden has long been the ability to build and create your own team from scratch—to basically build an expansion team. Not only build your own team, but then also develop the players too. In that respect it shares a lot in common with a roleplaying game; you don’t get XP per se, but your skills advance based on how well you do, etc.
So when I started playing it again recently, I created my own team. When you do that, you can just replace an existing team in the NFL with your team and take on their roster, or you can have it randomly create a team for you. I chose the “Cupcake” option, which basically gives you a team of all fictional players, who are all kind of shitty, but usually with a handful that have good development potential. (Essentially an expansion team type of roster.) So I did that, and since I had just been playing Fallout: New Vegas, and because I found a cool atomic-looking stock image amongst those you can choose for your team’s logo, I named my team the New Vegas Fallout.
And that was cool. I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get my team colors just right, and I named the fan section of my home stadium (which the Raiders call “The Black Hole”) “The Wasteland.” And that amused me. I was sad that I couldn’t have a fallout symbol as my team logo, but I figured the atom-with-footballs was good enough.
As it happens, one of the randomly-generated players on my team was named Coulson, naturally I thought of him as Agent Coulson from the Marvel movies and Agents of Shield, and every time he made a play it made me happy. There was another player who almost had a geeky name, and that only enhanced the fun. And all of this seemed to make it more palatable for my long-suffering housemates who had been subjected to my playing of football video games.
I decided to go all in, and made myself a real fantasy football team–by which, of course, I mean a football team of fantasy characters. The game lets you edit player names, so I painstakingly went in and renamed each and every player on my team. (I say painstakingly because I was doing it on a PS3 without any kind of keyboard peripheral, so you can imagine how tedious that was.)
Some of the player names I tried to pair them up with a position that seemed to make sense.
- Jean-Luc Picard (QB) – Obviously! And of course he’s a team captain.
- Peter Spiderman (WR) – Duh! His hands are supersticky!
- The Flash (WR) – Duh! He’s fast!
- Frodo Baggins (HB) – It just seemed like “ringbearer” and running back kind of felt like they went hand in hand to me, plus…
- Samwise Gamgee (FB) – …that let me pair Sam and Frodo up as companions working toward the same goal. (Also I liked to imagine the opponent’s end zone as Mordor, so any time the running back runs in untouched, I would think “It seems one simply CAN walk into Mordor.”)
- I’m Batman (DT) – I’m not sure what position it makes the most sense for Batman to play, but I figured defense makes sense if you imagine them as the protectors and the offense as the villains who are attacking. And of course I could have named him THE Batman, but I liked “I’m,” because then I could imagine him, every time he sacks the QB or hits the RB for a loss, standing over them and growl-whispering in their helmets “I’m Batman.”
- The Nazgul (DE) – I like to think this was one of my more inspired renames. Good Defensive Ends are known for their ability to relentlessly pursue their opponents, and I felt like that kind of sums up the Nazgul perfectly.
- Rubius Hagrid (C) – He’s a giant and thus would make an excellent offensive lineman, I figure. Same goes for Hodor Hodor and Jabba the Hutt and The Kingpin.
(Out of necessity, I ended up with a lot of people on my team whose first name is “The.” A bunch of them are also just named “Mr.” as their first name. Because it’s important that their main geeky name is their LAST name so I see it when I’m playing, since players are IDed by their last name only.)
Others, they don’t make as much sense.
- Logan Wolverine (WR) – Um, because he CUTS THROUGH THE DEFENSE?
- Wesley Crusher (DT) – Um, because he CRUSHES THE QB?
Er…yeah. I mean, obviously there were only so many positions where there was some kind of logic behind the renaming. And geek that I am, I dutifully renamed the whole team (even the third string players who I was never likely to actually see on the field). You can see a photoset over on Flickr that shows the whole team. Lots of Game of Thrones, Star Trek, and comic book references to be had. Also lots of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter references, though those were mostly to amuse my stepdaughter, who is crazy for Harry Potter, and my sister-in-law, who is nearly as big a nerd for LOTR as Stephen Colbert. You can also view a Google Docs spreadsheet with all the player names.
Everyone on the team was a fictional player, so I didn’t feel too bad about renaming them. Or rather everyone was fictional except for Chris Kluwe (P). Him, I cheated a bit to get him on my team, and so of course didn’t rename him. Why? BECAUSE HE’S CHRIS KLUWE THAT’S WHY.
So anyway, yeah. That’s the geekiest thing I’ve ever done. What’s YOUR geek secret?