This week, Deadspin and Jezebel swap beats to celebrate America’s most dangerous and controversial pastimes: football and fashion, two sports that have far more in common than you think.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I must stand in my truth: the reason I started playing fantasy football is because a man I dated a few years back enjoyed nothing more than sitting on his couch and watching every football game on television from sunup to sundown. My strategy to handle this bonding experience was to read a book quietly while drinking ice water; eventually, I realized that maybe to be polite, I should feign interest. Fantasy football was my answer; seven years later, I still play, despite knowing very little about the sport and its players.
The first year I played, I lost miserably, having drafted my team based solely on whether or not I had any familiarity with the team and my associations, be they negative or positive. I refused to draft a Patriot as a hard-and-fast rule, and gave preference to the San Francisco 49ers, then coached by Jim Harbaugh, with his Costco reading glasses and Sharpie lanyard. Games are miserable because losing sucks; with this in mind, I enlisted my sister Shaina, as co-manager and mastermind of the entire operation. My performance improved; I stopped dating that man; I began to look forward to screaming at a television while clutching a half-eaten chicken wing. Fantasy football feels slightly problematic, but like most things in life that are, it’s fun.
As I was leaving the house to meet my sister for the draft last season, the handle to the front door of my apartment broke, locking me inside for what ended up being more than three hours. Shaina and her boyfriend arrived to assist, but we had second pick and there was no time to waste. We drafted by shouting orders at each other through my front door, using the breaks in between to try and troubleshoot the issue that was separating us. The locksmith came around midnight. Five months later, my sister and I came in third place—our best showing yet.
Imbued with confidence after emerging semi-triumphant from great adversity, we decided to draft our team this year with a new set of criteria in mind. Mascots are tired; sorting through hundreds of photos of butts as a draft strategy felt insurmountable. Social media, however, is a great way to judge athlete talent. Professional athletes are brands first and foremost, so any glimmer of personality that peeks through is a nice way to make a game that causes CTE more palatable. With that in mind, Shaina and I consulted the rankings, cross-referenced Instagram, and set out to put together a team of champions.
Here’s our starting lineup:
Cam Newton, 4 million Instagram followers
The man writes some of the most iconic captions in the history of Instagram—and in hieroglyphics, to boot. Also, he posts constant #OOTDs but never tags the brands, so good luck trying to copy his drip.
Danny Amendola, 616,000 followers
While Amendola is essentially that dude from high school who went through a finance bro glow-up and came out the other side, he’s also signed to Ford Models and crams the occasional earnest post between thirst traps. Also, he’s dating Olivia Culpo.
Pierre Garçon, 194,000 followers
The man simply loves to bowl.
Todd Gurley II, 1 million followers
As the owner of the most polished Instagram account on our team, Gurley either has a really good personal photographer in his crew, or he or his agent pull from Getty quite often. He’s a hypebeast, he was on Celebrity Family Feud, and most importantly, is probably our best player.
Marshawn Lynch, 1.7 million followers
He is an icon in the Bay Area, on the same level as, say, E-40. Befitting of his iconic status, he doesn’t post much—a photo of his dogs, promo material for his #BEASTMODE apparel, etc—but his lack of rabid participation makes his social media presence that much more alluring. Above, a grainy slideshow tribute to all the women in his life.
Vernon Davis, 883k followers
Vernon Davis is out here reminding you that, cheating scandal be damned, he is a family man. And much like the dad he is, he adores the use of a literal and direct hashtag. It is excellent dadstagram. #thebike #theglasses #birthdaygirl
Tyler Higbee, 16.1k followers
He loves his mother and a good #TBT, and he has a sense of humor about it. “Snaggle Tooth Shawty,” a post from 2014, celebrates life before orthodontia, and belongs on a t-shirt immediately. His Instagram avatar is a mash-up of his own face and that of Guy Fieri.
How did we do?
At some point over the weekend, we looked at our team and both felt great dread. Naturally, we lost. We had first pick this year in our draft this year and we blew it on Cam Newton. In retrospect, we should’ve taken Saquon Barkley in the first round. But mistakes are merely lessons waiting to be learned. We’re not going to win this year. Really. We’re not. But at least all of our men are verified.