Happy birthday to my dad: It's funny: I was a die-hard Cubs and Bears fan as a kid because my dad is from Chicago and was a fan of those teams.
Eventually, my fandom for those teams eroded (although I'm still highly sympathetic, but I can't insult real Cubs/Bears fans by calling it "fandom" anymore), but it was that "first love" for a team -- particularly being a "displaced fan" -- that turned me into a sports fan.
It was on my mind last night as I did my annual fantasy football draft. I was picking 7th and committed to taking a QB first. Rodgers, Brees and Brady were all off the board, and I was deciding between Cam Newton and Matthew Stafford.
In the end, the thing that proved decisive is that Cam Newton is my 6-year-old ason Gabe's favorite player -- I knew we'd have a lot more fun this fall watching games on Red Zone if we had a mutual rooting interest in Newton.
I wonder if Gabe will be a Panthers fan for life or if he merely loves Cam -- he likes a lot of individual players and a range of teams, mostly the TD-scorers he knows from watching Red Zone last year.
When I was 6, I'm not sure I had much more of a handle on sports than knowing which NFL team nickname went with which city. Last week on vacation, Gabe and I went through the Top 100 players in fantasy football and he knew the specific team for roughly 75% of the list.
Is he growing up too fast? Is that just the evolution of having more information available? At age 6, I'm not even sure I really understood that I was a Bears fan -- that didn't come for another few years, in my hazy recollection.
In the end, I think the "how did we get here?" is less important than the fact that he and I can share the experience together.
(Funny: This was supposed to be just a short "Happy birthday to my dad!" line at the end of the post. It turned into the lead.)
Lance: I think I've always been in the "I assume he's a cheater but then again they're all cheaters so really in the end who cares he seems like a pretty amazing athlete who has done amazing things for so many people" camp.
Mississippi State: It's sort of like recruiting in college football -- everyone is doing something shady, so it's not surprising or insulting when those tactics come out, as they seem to be doing in Starkville. I'm a fan of Dan Mullen's, so this is an example of where I'll go "Oh well" where I might not for, say, a coach I dislike like Jim Tressel. (Not that the potential violations are anywhere on the same scale. Also, my biggest problem with Tressel was that he was so sanctimonious. Mississippi State's goal is to try to get bowl-eligible in the SEC as a historically second-rate program -- as noble of a goal as you could find.)
NBA: Can we please not make a big deal out of this Wade thing about LeBron and Jordan? OBVIOUSLY, LeBron isn't at Jordan's level yet. It's hardly an issue Wade would affirm that.
NFL: I kind of love that the Colts would trade a 1st-round pick to try to complete their rebuilding in less than a year.
CFB: I started working on my BlogPoll ballot -- one of my favorite little fun side hobbies every fall. I'll tell you right now that I'm picking Alabama No. 1, and the notion of anyone picking USC over the Tide is absurd to me. USC may go unbeaten through the regular season, but they will get leveled by whoever wins the SEC (probably Alabama). I look forward to heading down the ballot, where things get more interesting.
Fantasy: So here's the obligatory post-draft "here's my team" list:
Cam Newton (7th overall in a 14-team league), with Luck as the backup QB. Historically, I have drafted RBs and WRs early and suffered during the season with weak QBs. Not this year.
RBs: Marshawn Lynch and Peyton Hillis (with Kevin Smith as initial W/R, plus Jacquizz Rodgers and Alex Green as backups).
WRs: Jordy Nelson and Percy Harvin (with Justin Blackmon, Randall Cobb and Brandon LaFell as backups. Cobb was basically my Nelson handcuff.)
TE: Vernon Davis (with Greg Olsen as backup -- I'm clearly going long on the Carolina O.)
I'm actually pretty happy with my draft for once. That clearly means I'm headed for a bottom-three finish.