[ESPN] With his grandson on one side and his son-in-law on the other, 87-year-old Andy Mousalimas chose Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy with the first pick of his 50th and final fantasy football league draft. And so began the beginning of the end of an era that started in 1963 in a rumpus room in a home in Oakland, where Mousalimas made the first — and possibly worst — pick in the history of fantasy football: George Blanda over Jim Brown.
Fifty years. Mousalimas has a lot tied up in this silly game. He still has the original hand-written draft list from 1963, with names like Blanda and Brown, Y.A. Tittle and Fran Tarkenton. He doesn’t claim to have invented fantasy football — a minority owner of the Raiders named Bill Winkenbach gets the credit — but he is undoubtedly its most energetic caretaker and resident historian.
He is the keeper of the oft-repeated lore. In his opening speech to those assembled in the upstairs room of an Oakland bar and grill Tuesday night, Mousalimas recounted his favorite story: how, in 1979, a team drafted Cardinals tight end J.V. Cain two weeks after he died. Mousalimas stopped to point out the man who made the pick, Frank Pappalardo. “Don’t blame me — it was my partner,” Pappalardo says. “My partner wanted that guy.” It sounded a lot like a line he’d been called upon to recite several times a year since 1979.
His voice trails off. He’s finished after this season. “I’m almost 88 years old, and it’s time,” he says. “But I’ll tell you, a lot of great memories came welling up tonight.” He talks about the friends he’s lost and the ones he’s gained and it’s clear this was only tangentially about football, even from the start. It was about friends and stories and a long life lived well.
Mousalimas tears up a little thinking about it. The wild Friday nights, the 3 a.m. trips to the Oakland Tribune on Monday mornings to get the paper and start tallying Sunday’s scores, the Tuesday lunches when they posted that week’s standings. It’s crazy how something as silly as make-believe football teams can create such joy.
He takes a breath and catches himself. He’s 87 but strong, fit, active. There’s more out there for him, and within a few seconds he’s back to the present, turning toward his grandson and saying, “I really think we’ve got a good team this year. I think we’re gonna do fine.” Full Story HERE
Hold on, one sec.
*Get tissue, wipes tear.
Ok, I’m ready.
I mean, if that wasn’t the greatest story you’ve read this summer than you are reading way too much. Drink a beer.
But seriously, that was phenomenal. I have been running a Fantasy Football league for 11 straight years now, and this is why I do it. Not for the money, but the memories. Fantasy Football is a beautiful thing, and all the haters are just that…haters.