There’s no doubt the fantasy explosion over the past decade, evolving from a niche hobby to mainstream status, has contributed greatly to the sport’s growth, fueling its own economy while facilitating a smarter, more analytically-informed discussion on football. In fact, it’s how I broke into this business, cutting my teeth writing fantasy “blurbs” for Rotoworld, now known as NBC Sports Edge.
But just because a player disappoints you in fantasy doesn’t give you the right to viciously attack them on social media. We’re all competitive but let’s get a couple things straight: 1) fantasy football is, at the end of the day, just a game and 2) Calvin Ridley is not a robot. He’s a human being like the rest of us, experiencing sadness, anxiety, fear, self-doubt and everything in between. For the Twitter masses to take their frustration out on Ridley for the sheer act of being vulnerable is shameful and one of the reasons why so many battling mental health issues are afraid to seek the help they so desperately need. As a star receiver in the prime of his career, Ridley is richer and more famous than most of us will ever be, but that doesn’t make him immune to the same struggles as everyone else.
For some, Ridley may be just another name on a Yahoo dropdown menu, but to others, he’s an inspiration, shining a light on a problem that’s not going away. Between wealth disparity, racial tension, widespread government corruption, mixed signals from those in positions of authority, the pressures of social media and a global pandemic that an alarming percentage of our population still won’t acknowledge, our country has never been more divided. The chaos of the last year has made our world difficult to digest, but we don’t have to do it alone. This discussion is long overdue, but thanks to athletes like Ridley, Simone Biles, Lane Johnson, Naomi Osaka and countless others in the sports realm, we’re finally having it.
Remember, whether we show it or not, we’re all dealing with something. Ridley should be commended for addressing his mental health, not raked over the coals for it. The world needs more examples like Ridley, and, ultimately more empathy for those who are suffering or in pain. You’re allowed to be frustrated when players on your fantasy team don’t perform to your liking or are constantly in and out of the lineup with injuries, but remember, they don’t owe you anything. With that in mind, Chris Emma and Jordan Cohn joined me to talk fantasy with Titans newcomer Adrian Peterson, the unlikely emergence of Mike White and Mark Ingram’s return to the Big Easy among this week’s slate of topics.