I was a freakin’ jerk. Also, I was exhausted.
About 19 years ago I lay awake in my room. The dull crimson glow of the LEDs strewn across my ceiling reflected the smattering of insults, indignation, ignorance I found myself leaking – no – hurling forth wherever I went. This radiant brick asylum I constructed now unraveled right in front of me.
As I trudged through the endless scroll of transgressions I had committed against people in my life that I held as friends, I began to feel heavy. Every wrongdoing was a massive chain draped across my chest. The cold, metal links stifled my breath, coiled around me, and set to constrict every ounce of awfulness out of me.
Lies I told about someone “sneaking” behind me into my best friend’s house without my knowledge and taking things that belonged to his sister.
The satanic drawing that I shipped over at lunch to the religious kid that used to be my friend.
Constant whips from words that landed like barbed wire on the ears of those who dared “challenge” me at the lunch table or in class.
My intention was to list more, but I’m hoping that you, the reader, didn’t see all of that and jump ship. If you are still with me, let me complete the picture. Mike Tulanko: son, honor roll student, plenty of productive activities and hobbies, part-time bully and full-fledged asshat.
Pointing fingers at all of the external factors that lead me to this mental prison at 11:37 pm on a school night would have been fruitless – and I recognized that. I could blame all the bullies, bad examples, breakups and barricades that I thought were necessary to build.
What would come from that though? Another excuse? Another lie to myself?
No way! Not this time!
A Fresh Start
I was done making bad choices. I was tired. Tired of being a jerk. Tired of the endurance and effort it took to be so callous. Tired of putting up multiple calculated fronts depending on whom I found myself surrounded with. Tired of being an empty void of a human being.
All of this weariness was due to the fact that I chose to do the things that I had led to this moment of clarity. Life circumstances be damned! I chose to be this miserable person who only seeks to bring people to the same level of misery, whether directly or indirectly.
I knew what I had to do. I had to stop and work hard to break the patterns I had fallen into. I had to surround myself with people who made me laugh with them, not at others. I had to rise above and realize that life is too short to be a jerk. It is way easier to seek positive intent and not take everything as a personal assault on my existence.
This Just In
I asked my wife if I am a jerk, and without hesitation, she answered, “No, you aren’t a jerk. Why are you asking me this?” Truth be told, I don’t have to ask her. This isn’t because I am perfect in any way, but because she would let me know if I was, indeed, exhibiting jerkishness.
Over the years since the night I decided to no longer be a wretch to others, there have been highs, lows, bumps in the road and successes. The greatest success has been finding someone in my life who loves me so unconditionally and helps hold me accountable to myself. Or, as my parents put it, “doesn’t put up with my shit.”
I could write a whole novel series on the trials and tribulations that got me to where I am now, but all you really need to know is that there are three key philosophies that keep me on the right path.
The Three Keys
- Nobody is “out to get me.” I lost that strange sense of false self-importance and if I stumble it is easy to remind myself to chill out. After all, I’m just a speck of dust floating in the universe. No need to get swept into a wormhole!
- It is exponentially easier to be kind than it is to be an insidious curr. Let me steal an old saying I told myself often at the onset of my path to a kinder me: It takes more muscles to smile than it does to frown.
- You reap what you sow. It’s no coincidence that once I started being kind, I found myself surrounded by more genuine people. This allowed me to embrace differences in people and perspectives while finding the beauty in all of it. This was very contrary to the rotten tomatoes constantly on my vines before.
I managed to make what I call a “170-degree turn.” We all stumble, but it is the effort and focus toward a meaningful endgame that keeps humans moving in a positive direction. To say that it was a one-eighty ignores the imperfect nature of humans and the human experience.
Decisions, Decisions: Players Headed 170° This Season
Sam Darnold (QB, Carolina Panthers)
The Darnold Went Down to Panthers
Speaking of imperfect, let’s talk about Sam Darnold. His performance is much like my backstory. I don’t need to give you a lot of stats to see the picture. His Total Quarterback Rating (QBR) never being over 45.9 in three seasons tells you most of what you need to know. It hasn’t been magical.
While off to an OK start in his rookie season, he soon fell into the path of Adam Gase – who has a reputation for anything other than success. Here’s the deal though: Darnold has found himself newly unchained and will be lacking excuses for poor performance.
Darnold has been shipped to Carolina and is reuniting with one of his favorite targets from his time with the Jets, Robby Anderson. The QB on the rebound also has Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall Jr. at his disposal. Get Darnold on the cheap in dynasty superflex leagues now if you can. At best, he can turn his career around with the new supporting cast and be a solid QB2. At the worst, he is out of a starting job at the end of this season.
Just for your reference, I snagged him in a 12-team superflex league as part of a deal during the rookie draft. I sent Julio Jones, Ian Thomas and a second-round pick for a slightly later second-round pick, Darnold, and Cole Kmet. That’s a pretty fair price for taking a risk on a young, starting QB.
Courtland Sutton (WR, Denver Broncos)
Sutton You Should Consider
Courtland Sutton caught passes from Joe Flacco, Drew Lock and Brandon Allen in the 2019 season. He put up an impressive stat line (1112 yards, six touchdowns, 16 games playd, and almost double the targets of the No. 2 Denver receiver) in his second season. With the addition of Jerry Jeudy in the 2020 draft, managers were salivating at the idea of a two-headed monster of a receiving corps.
Then, Sutton sustained a Week 2 ACL injury in 2020.
He became an afterthought to many dynasty managers. Now with a cadre of stop-gap quarterbacks and the focus on Jeudy and Noah Fant, Sutton generally flies under the radar for some owners. Especially those who are distracted by the fresh round of shiny, new receivers.
Are you going to let Sutton get overlooked as Keenan Allen did after his 2016 season-ending injury? No way! Not this time!
His bounce-back could easily be just as epic.
Gus Edwards (RB, Baltimore Ravens)
In Gus We Trust
Gus Edwards is officially the thunder to the J.K. Dobbins lightning. With Mark Ingram moving on to the Texans, the Ravens’ running back room is a two-person show. Lamar Jackson is utilized heavily in the running game as well, and they really didn’t need the additional cost of three solid running backs.
Considering that Edwards was Points Per Reception (PPR) RB37 and standard scoring RB28 last season with the crowded backfield, it stands to reason that he has the potential to take on more work and make his way into RB2 territory.
Dobbins has the same potential, yet his price is so much higher. The 170-degree turn here is for redraft owners to make.
Edwards current Average Draft Position (ADP) is just ahead of the 10th round in PPR leagues. I see no reason for the Ravens to alter their approach to mixing up their productive running game often.
The RB position gets gross pretty fast in the most common redraft league formats. Take a shot on Edwards and live to enjoy cheap RB2 production at a great cost!
Remember: You reap what you sow.
Make today a great day! And don’t forget to be awesome (DFTBA)!