I’m like most people in that I have a few favorite days of the year. I love Thanksgiving—even though I have to work—and Christmas, and the Fourth of July. For me those three holidays are all about family, and the memories associated with them are precious.

I have one other day that I would throw into my Favorite Foursome, and there’s a chance that you’ll think it’s ridiculous. I’m completely okay with that. You either get it or you don’t.

The Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, for me, is like a holiday. It’s the day where I get together with some of my oldest friends, and few guys I know casually at best, for our annual Cape Cod Oblong League fantasy football draft.

I’m not ashamed to tell you that several of the guys who are in that league are like family to me, brothers and uncles. Three of my closest friends in the world are a part of that league, as is one of my mentors, a couple of former co-workers from my youth. The league formed about two decades ago and has been going strong with the same core members. Ten of the 12 guys in the league have been a part of it for at least 15 years.

It’s like one big dysfunctional family. My best friend in the world—who drafted this year from his summer retreat on Cuttyhunk Island—has been somewhat responsible for the Oblong League losing two players during his tenure. Let’s just say that neither possessed very thick skin. Bullying is certainly not acceptable in the real world, but in the world of fantasy football it’s called ribbing. In our league you get ribbed, especially if you whine about things. As the ultimate rib we are considering instituting a loser’s trophy for the guy who finishes last, and we’re going to name that trophy after the guy who just quit.

Ironically my buddy that does the ribbing has had one of the worst performing franchises in the league for the last several years. Whether he wins or loses he is going to make fun of his friends. We love him, whether for it or despite it probably depends on who you ask.

In two decades we’ve all mellowed, though. Some of the guys have far less hair than when we started. Our conversations at Dino’s Sports Bar in Mashpee have gone from raunchy and R-rated back in the day, to the far more tame concepts of scheduling college visits, taking senior portraits and how many youth teams are too many to coach now. Our time together has become a lot more family friendly. It’s PG-13 for sure.

Even though we’ve grown up, if not matured, the essence of why we started playing in this ridiculous league together remains the same. The camaraderie we have with one another, and the love we have for one another, is amazing. We lost one of our brothers a few years back. He’s still in the league with us, though. We named our championship trophy The Charlie.

Whether or not my name is engraved on The Charlie again remains to be seen. I love my team, and I always love my team, after the draft. Will Davante Adams and Odell Beckham Jr. stay healthy? Can I win without a bona fide No. 1 running back? Will I be able to trick anyone into allowing me to steal their best players again this year?

The NFL starts this week, and I’ll be watching intently not just because I love the games, but because I want to destroy my friends in fantasy football. It’s because I love them.

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