The cigars were lit. The brandy was sniftered. Big chief honcho Brandon Funston had a carnation for his boutonniere, a cheat sheet at his spot at the head of the table, and a live brass quintet that played heraldic music as each owner entered the board room. Funston wore a tuxedo and tails, Brad Evans showed up in his prom suit, and yours truly wore shoulder pads. The all-important Yahoo! Friends & Family Draft was just minutes from beginning.
Wait. None of that is true.
We did the F&F draft online, just like the rest of the drooling masses. Okay, Brad did wear his prom outfit (including a Chicago-Bears-orange cummerbund), but it had nothing to do with the draft. It was a Wednesday, after all.
Evans has reviewed his favorite and least favorite picks of the F&F Draft, so I won't be talking strategy, sleepers or busts – except to say: some idiot took Priest Holmes. Oh, wait. That was me. Instead, I'd like to fill you in on the sights, the sounds, and yes, even the smells of the F&F Draft '06. I'd like to do all that, except, as I say, we did the thing online. Therefore, all I've got is the chat room. Here's how it went:
12:46 p.m. – Harris logs into the chat room by himself.
12:47 p.m. – Harris types "Anyone here yet?" seven times per minute.
12:53 p.m. – Harris realizes it would be faster to simply copy and paste the phrase "Anyone here yet?"
12:56 p.m. – Harris rushes back from the bathroom, wondering if anyone has started typing something in the chat room.
12:58 p.m. – Evans shows up, adding to the premise that all the new columnists are kiss-asses.
1:01 p.m. – Matt Buser is third-man-in, confirming the premise that all the new columnists are kiss-asses.
Okay, that's quite enough of the timestamps, wouldn't you say? With the first overall pick, I confound my own preseason projections right here on Yahoo!, and select Larry Johnson. I later tell the assembled press contingency, "I panicked. I was enjoying the spotlight of having our franchise on national TV, and the index cards got mixed up. We're just lucky I didn't hand in the card that said, 'Ricky Williams.' That's for my Fantasy CFL Draft later today."
Matt Romig, selecting eighth, has an extraordinarily difficult decision: Steven Jackson or Jerome Bettis? As he ponders, he informs the room, "I had to adjust Big Ben down to only 11 rushing TDs with his motorcycle injury." Romig shocks his loyal Midwestern posse by taking Jackson over Bettis, on whom he will pass 14 more times. (Hey, this is news … see also: Holmes, Priest.)
As the selections track back for the second round, Funston announces to defending champion Chris Liss of RotoWire: "Liss, you are not going to win this thing this year." Instead of leaping over the conference-room table, fists balled, Liss calmly replies, "You're probably right. Looking at this 12-team field, I'd give myself a 40 percent chance."
The running backs are falling fast and furious … Willis McGahee … Julius Jones … Domanick Davis … and the little voice inside my head is whispering, "Don't take Willie Parker. Don't take Willie Parker." Unfortunately, I take Willie Parker. The chat room is conspicuously silent, presumably because no one wants to hurt the new guy's feelings. I take Marvin Harrison (over Randy Moss and Hines Ward) to salve my self-inflicted wound.
Right about Round 4 – and anyone who's ever done an online draft will recognize this moment – the F&F drafters became suspiciously complimentary of one another's selections. To wit:
Funston: You're evil Harris.
Harris: Why evil?
Funston: Driver would've made a nice fifth rounder.
Peter Schoenke selects LenDale White.
Funston: Ah, that sucks.
Matt Berry selects Laveranues Coles.
Funston: Ouch – had Coles queued up.
John Hansen selects Michael Vick.
Harris: Never heard of him.
Evans: Nice value on Vick.
Berry: Yeah, RBs are hard to find this late.
Funston: Wow, had Vick queued up. It was like Jim Jones was handing me Kool-Aid and Hansen jumped in and drank it instead.
At this point in the proceedings came the F&F Draft's two hallmark moments, both in the ninth round. First, I'd just selected Muhsin Muhammad for some reason (perhaps it was all the angry Chicago email I got after writing the Juggernaut Index), and was up again. I thought about how much my team was going to rely on Larry Johnson. I thought about what would happen if Larry Johnson got hurt. I thought about how badly I'd feel if I didn't have Larry Johnson's backup. I thought about the fact that Larry Johnson doesn't, strictly speaking, really have a backup yet. The time wound down. My pulse quickened. And I found myself making one of the least-likely mouse-clicks of my career, right behind the time I bought JDS Uniphase at $210. But it wasn't my fault. It's June. The Chiefs don't know anything for sure. He could suddenly get healthy again. The sun was in my eyes!
I took Priest.
Seven picks later, Romig, an inveterate Steelers fetishist, did something nearly as strange: he drafted Santonio Holmes. And the following exchange took place:
Romig selects Santonio Holmes.
Evans: You don't get points for a rap sheet Romig
Berry: We get points for arrests?
Buser: That's awesome
Frankly, it might not even be that bad a pick. But the last time all of us were out in Santa Monica, Romig subjected us to a late-night viewing of the Steelers Super Bowl DVD, at which time all eyes became glazed, all buzzes were lost, and Romig acquired a black-and-gold bullseye across his bow. Suffice it to say: if Terry Bradshaw's going to mysteriously wind up on someone's roster this year, I think we've all got a pretty good idea whose it'll be.
Oh, there were other moments. When DeAngelo Williams went to Schoenke, Evans, a known Williams devotee, was seen to sigh and gaze wistfully in the chat room. A quick discussion of bye weeks ensued, and Funston opined, "Yeah, whoever plays me in Week 4, you're welcome." Curtis Martin was pitied. In homage to the Borg, KFFL decided to refer to itself only in the first-person plural. But the only real excitement left was figuring out when Lago was going to decide to draft a second running back. Mike Anderson was the man. Eventually.
And so it was. We "experts" clocked in at an hour and a half, not bad for government work. I skulked out with my tail between my legs, Romig scrambled to search Yahoo! for "Santonio Holmes" and "statute of limitations," and Evans spray-mounted a poster of Shaun Alexander over his poster of DeAngelo Williams. Some sort of marvelous prize was promised to the winner (back off, Liss), and a motorized cervical spine was promised to Priest Holmes. And now, with a fine flourish and hearty adieu, I hope you'll excuse me while I pray for T.J. Duckett to get traded, preferably to Kansas City.