Family, Football & It Takes a Village
“It takes a village to raise a child.”
This saying has been on my mind the last few days. It is a very true statement. A child becomes a sum total of what they are surrounded by in their youth. Influences abound for a developing young brain, and it is impossible for them to not be shaped by the world around them. Parents, grandparents, cousins, friends, teachers, even strangers play an integral role. But does this end with youth? Is there a magic age where it no longer “takes a village?”
This thought process reminded me of when I very first moved out of my parents’ home at the tender age of 20. Back then, I thought I was already an adult, as we all tend to. This couldn’t have been farther from reality, but you know, dumb kids.
I felt ready to tackle the world on my own, as many do once they’re removed from high school. I had briefly attended college but was more interested in pursuing a career in the culinary field and had worked my way up the ladder at the local country club. I had money, and it was time for me to spread my wings.
As it just so happened, one of my co-workers, Dane, had just moved into a house not far from my childhood home. This house had a small, vacant carriage house in the backyard right on the alley. Dane and his roommates (his long-time fiancee, Brandi, and his best friend from childhood, Webb) naturally wanted someone they knew to live there and share the yard and garage. It was perfect.
I moved into the tiny carriage house the day before my 20th birthday. Most people probably would have said “no thank you” at first sight, but I was just excited to be out on my own. The kitchen was minuscule. The bathroom had only a clawfoot tub with the smallest water spout you’ve ever seen. There was no air conditioning, and the only heat came from an old gas box heater with no vets or ductwork. In total, it was probably under 500 square feet. But it was all mine.
To say my family wasn’t pleased would be an understatement. Dane, Brandi and Webb were in their 30s. They had moved to Colorado from Louisiana and were somewhat the definition of “hippies.” Their love for the band Widespread Panic – herein referred to as WSP – was unmatched. I cannot imagine what my parents thought was going to happen. But in all reality, there couldn’t have been a better situation for me to learn to live on my own.
I saw a lot of life in that year. We had a shared detached garage that we turned into a joint hangout. Webb had a crazy idea one afternoon to carpet the entire place with remnants from a local carpet company. So we did it. We set up our band equipment, a bar, an old couch and some TVs. It became known as “The Sandbox.”
People flocked to the somehow suddenly iconic garage. Dane and Webb had a collection of friends who had all found themselves in Colorado from various parts of Louisiana. Some of them were old fraternity buddies, some life-long friends and some family. We acquired new friends through work and other friends. I even added a roommate, Marcus, to my cozy home.
We would spend the majority of our non-working hours in “The Sandbox” singing, jamming, laughing, watching football and The Game Show Network (the original “Newlywed Game” is one of the greatest game shows ever made, and I’ll die on that hill) and just generally enjoying each others company. We had crawfish boils and impromptu karaoke sessions. We lived life to the fullest with no regrets.
For someone who had never been on their own, having a collection of adults around me who had been doing this on their own for years was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
Dane, Brandi, Webb and the whole gang looked out for me. They showed me the ropes. How to have fun but not go wild. I learned responsibility, balanced with a good time, in a way only they could have shown me. That year spent in a mini-house with some of the best people I’ve ever known is a big part of why I am who I am today. They were my village. Each and every one of them.
To this day, I still talk to Dane, though not as often as I should. I recently reconnected with Webb on Facebook. Marcus became a long-time roommate until he moved away to Portland, and we have recently reconnected upon his return to Colorado. Those experiences are things I will never forget. They shape the way I interact in the world. Almost 20 years later, it has had a profound impact on how I want to raise my son, how I treat people and how I choose to carry myself in the world.
The things in life that leave the most impact are sometimes the most unexpected, and that rings true in fantasy football, as well. James Robinson is a perfect example. No one saw the undrafted-free agent running back turning out a solid RB1 season in Jacksonville. Yet, here we are. Finding that one player no one saw coming can change the trajectory of your dynasty teams.
This week, in my final edition of “Decoding Dynasty,” I’m going to give you two players I think might be in line for an unexpected breakout that you can acquire cheaply heading into the 2021 season. What are we waiting for? Let’s get to it.
Decoding Dynasty: Training Camp Dart Throws
Ty Johnson (RB, New York Jets)
The running back situation for the Jets is an interesting case. Tevin Coleman seems to be the de-facto RB1 heading into camp, there has been a lot of hype for the fourth-round rookie Michael Carter out of the University of North Carolina (UNC) and then there’s Ty Johnson.
Reports out of New York indicate that Johnson is due for an increased workload compared to 2020. We saw him have a mini-breakout in Week 13 against Las Vegas when he had his highest snap share (63 percent), most touches (22) and highest yard output (104 yards rushing) of the season.
The talent is there. He’s successfully averaged 4.5 Yards Per Carry (YPC), despite playing for both the Lions and the Jets, two of the NFL’s worst teams over the last two seasons. All Johnson needs is opportunity. Coleman has a history of knee issues, and as we know, those can be nagging. If his knee continues to give him issues and he lands on the injury report as he did with San Francisco last season, Johnson could be next-man-up.
At his current price, which is most likely in the neighborhood of a third or fourth-round rookie draft pick, Johnson is worth taking a shot on as added fantasy depth in the event he does see an increased workload.
Thaddeus Moss (TE, Cincinnati)
Tight end is probably one of the most difficult positions to find value in the fantasy football world. Outside of Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Darren Waller, it seems to be a crapshoot as to who is worth rostering. Thaddeus Moss definitely falls into the fantasy crapshoot category with high upside potential.
We didn’t get to see what he is capable of at the NFL level last season. Signed as an undrafted free agent out of Louisiana State University (LSU) by the Washington Football Team, Moss was sidelined the entire season with a foot injury.
Washington released him after the end of the season, and Cincinnati promptly grabbed him off of waivers. Why does this mean anything? Because Moss is now being reunited with his former teammate, Joe Burrow.
I will admit this is a long shot. In his lone season with Burrow at LSU, Moss showcased his skillset and ended the season with 47 catches for 570 yards and four touchdowns. He showed an ability to stretch the field as a tight end, and let’s not forget that his father is NFL Hall-of-Famer Randy Moss.
Moss will be competing for targets with veterans C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample. All indications from Cincinnati lead me to believe that, if he can stay on the field, Moss could be the TE1 in the Burrow-led offense. And considering he is rostered in only 46 percent of leagues on Sleeper, he is someone you can either find on the waiver wire or acquire very cheaply with a fourth-round rookie pick or an aging dart throw veteran.
No column would be complete without my staple. My calling card, if you will. The dad joke. Here’s one we can all relate to:
My boss told me to have a good day, so I went home.