From the website:
After an offseason of conditioning and film study, more than a month of grueling practices in the summer heat and four exhibition games, NFL players are now ready to start playing games for the benefit of fantasy football leagues.
“We know how seriously people take fantasy football, and we want them to know that we take our role in it very seriously, too,” said Shaun Alexander, a highly-ranked fantasy running back. “Every weight I lift, every drill I run – it’s all because I want to provide those who own me with as many points as possible. If I make my owners happy and help them win their fantasy league, then I’ve done my job. Everything else as far as team goals is secondary.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell says the league’s purpose has shifted in recent years.
“Our players and our teams used to have one sole purpose: winning games and achieving a Super Bowl championship,” said Goodell. “But we all know where our bread is buttered now. Fantasy football has brought millions of new fans to the league and raised interest in NFL football to record levels. And while players still want to win if possible, they’d much rather lose and score two or three touchdowns than win with only a single score. Their reputations and popularity depend not on wins and losses, but fantasy points.”
Top-ranked fantasy running back Larry Johnson says he knows full-well that he owes his entire reputation to fantasy football, and is not about to put AFC West standings and playoff goals above posting big stats for his fantasy owners.
“This time last year I was nothing but a backup running back on a somewhat anonymous team in Middle America,” said Johnson. “But Priest Holmes got hurt, and I got to start the entire second half of the season and was fortunate enough to put up some pretty big numbers in the process. And then before I knew it, I was this big star thanks to fantasy football. I’ve never even started an entire season in my career, yet I’m on the cover of countless magazines and am getting talked about constantly on TV and the radio. I’m a household name. And I owe it all to fantasy football.”
Johnson says he can guarantee he will put up big fantasy numbers this season.
“I’m not going to bite the hand that feeds me. I’m a fantasy football creation, and I refuse to let down those who draft me,” he said. “I don’t care if we’re down 20 points in the second half and have to throw the ball to get back in the game, I’m ripping the ball out of Trent Green’s hands and running with it. I will let nothing stand in the way of me being the No. 1 fantasy player.”
And while players like Johnson have had their reputations built on fantasy football, others – like Pittsburgh running back Willie Parker – could be cursed to oblivion due to their poor fantasy reputation.
“I have a Super Bowl ring, but it means nothing when your son comes home from school and tells you he heard you aren’t a good fantasy football player because you don’t score enough touchdowns,” said Parker. “If Coach Cowher keeps taking me out on goal line situations again this year, my reputation in football will be ruined. Not to mention the fact that my son will never respect me.”