“Ear to the Ground” is a year-round column from the stylings of Bo McBrayer, blending the spice of life with fantasy football advice in the form of a dynasty trade value chart good for the next month. Join him this week as he discusses lessons learned from Martin Scorsese, while examining the dynasty landscape pre-NFL Draft and through free agency.
The thing with birthdays is that they keep coming. That is, if you’re lucky enough to continue waking up on the sunny side of the dirt. As we get older, they seem to roll around at a more frequent pace.
My extensive work with senior citizens has taught me that it’s all relative. It has also taught me about inevitability and the importance of filling the remainder of our finite existences with memories.
One skill that I developed over my years through an obsessive number of repetitions is a keen eye for detail and nuance. Growing up in a rural environment made it feel like there were more than 24 hours in a day. The pace was easy, the stress minimal. As long as the sun was shining, the crops were growing, and kids were playing pickup games in the schoolyard.
I could hold the football high and tight like Emmitt Smith and high-step like Deion Sanders. I could also become every San Francisco Giant or Seattle Mariner in a game of wiffle ball, emulating every batting stance and idiosyncratic cup adjustment.
Float Like a Butterfly
I loved watching movies with my parents on rainy days. It was special because it doesn’t rain much in northern California. We could go months on end without missing a ball game to a rainout. When the sky was falling, I had my nose in a book or my dad was unwrapping a bag of Act II popcorn for the microwave.
Dad loves gangster movies. I was first introduced to the work of Martin Scorsese with “Good Fellas,” followed by “Casino.” Scorsese’s use of subtext and parallel storytelling is unmatched in cinematic history, and it took a good while before I could truly capture all of the brilliance in one viewing.
“The Departed” came out in theaters when I was in college. Even though I had watched every major film in existence thanks to a five-at-a-time Netflix plan (we used to get movies in the mail, kids!), I went and paid for a ticket to see Scorsese’s latest work. The cast was immense. I still consider “The Departed” to be the greatest movie ever made. One seemingly insignificant quote stuck with me from that first viewing and still leaves my mouth on a near daily basis.
Frank Costello (played by Jack Nicholson) to guy at his bar: “Who let this IRA MFer in my bar? Just kidding. How’s your mother?”
Guy sitting at the bar, clearly flustered: “Ah, she’s on her way out.”
Frank: “We all are. Act accordingly.”
The permanence of the line resonates with me constantly. It ties into the opening monologue that kicks off a gritty, hand-woven story of masculinity’s role in humanity with, “Ain’t nobody gonna give it to you. You have to take it.”
Scorsese so perfectly encompassed the stunning proximity of our demise that it shaped how I view my own damn birthdays. Maybe I’m too whimsical, but my birthday falling on the first day of spring is uniquely juxtaposed to the morbidity of fate. Flowers are abloom; new life is abundant. I am one year older, and my hourglass is waning.
Sting Like a Bee
Details are like atoms. They are minuscule parts to a whole. Everything around us is made of details. One can attempt to “micro-manage” their days to fill them with enjoyment, but it’s a slippery slope. At a certain point, we’re managing the fun right out of our existence instead of relinquishing control to the almighty. The best of everything is organic and candid.
Days in adulthood no longer have 24 hours to fill. There are fewer holes in the ice to come up for air than ever before.
Do we adapt or overcome? Do we push further onward or float? The only certainty is that we will eventually run out of air or lose the strength to breathe it.
“Happy birthday,” they say. Now the symbolism behind the candles on the cake seems pretty messed up.
I won’t end this piece with darkness. That’s not really in my nature anyway. The thing with existentialism is it’s devoid of details. You either are, or you’re not. While I am, the focus will be on staying awake and touching the ground. Try to use all five senses every day. Push this organic vessel to its limits and remember what is important.
Vikings sent their fallen loved ones down the river in a canoe set ablaze. I’m still here, getting older. I’m still alive and growing.
In the words of hip-hop duo Atmosphere, “F**k it, might as well row that boat.”
Dynasty Trade Value Chart: Comers, Stayers & Goers
With as many dynasty leagues as I have, it’s as if my life is subsequently running perfectly parallel to the ebbs and flows of the NFL calendar. “Families are always rising and falling in America,” according to Nathaniel Hawthorne. The players I’m trying to flip or keep to build a dynastic championship fantasy team range from rising stars to surprises at their peak.
The ones I am looking to make a trade for, hold or trade away during and after the 2023 NFL Free Agency period at each position are noted on a dynasty trade value chart below:
|Justin Fields (CHI)
|Geno Smith (SEA)
|Derek Carr (NO)
|Jonathan Taylor (IND)
|Najee Harris (PIT)
|Austin Ekeler (LAC)
|Elijah Moore (NYJ)
|Chris Godwin (TB)
|Christian Watson (GB)
|Jake Ferguson (DAL)
|Chigoziem Okonkwo (TEN)
|Mark Andrews (BAL)