Lessons from (fantasy) football…

If you know me, you know I love football; you know that I love the Patriots above all (I discovered football while in college in Boston, when Drew Bledsoe was still the quarterback). This year, for the first time, I thought I would add to my Sunday fun by joining my brother-in-law’s fantasy football league. I am not very good at it… probably for a number of reasons. One of these reasons, I thought until last night, is that I let my feelings get in the way of my strategy. The name of my fantasy football team is The Brady Bunch. My second draft pick was Tom Brady. I have Alex Smith as my backup quarterback, but had not played him all season, despite poor fantasy points by Brady, just because, well, Tom Brady is Tom Brady.

Yesterday, I decided I had to set emotion aside and play to win. Yesterday, I did what I thought I should have done weeks ago:  yesterday, I benched Tom Brady in favor of Alex Smith. Like a sign from the Universe, the Bleacher Report last minute “Sit ‘em / start ‘em” advised to do just that. Yesterday, Tom Brady scored 53.75 fantasy points, to Alex Smith’s 8.75.

What did this teach me? A few things…

Never bench Tom Brady. When you are good, you are good, even if you have a few weeks in a row of less than stellar performance. At the end of the day, skill, practice and perseverance always win.

Don’t (always) listen to the advice of professionals. Obviously, the brains behind the Bleacher Report know more than I do about football – fantasy and reality. That does not mean they are always right.

Don’t listen to gossip. What is wrong with Tom Brady’s right hand? While a photo of it looking swollen and hurt went viral last week, and the Twitter rumor mill is filled with discussion of how injured it is, the Patriots have been (characteristically) mum about the topic. And as Brady’s performance yesterday showed, no matter what his hand looks like, he can still use it – exceptionally well.

Instead, listen to your gut. What I did yesterday went against every fiber of my being. Actually, right after I changed my lineup I texted my brother-in-law to tell him what I did, adding “I just died a little inside.” If it feels wrong, it probably is wrong.

Never, ever give up. Yesterday, I gave up on Tom Brady. We are only halfway through the season, and I gave up. I lost faith. Yesterday was a great reminder that it ain’t over until it’s over.

Yesterday, I also remembered one of the many reasons I love football so much – the lessons I learn watching this game (and now playing in the fantasy world) are so very applicable to the business world…