Fantasy football and Madden video gaming are fun. But has it made the modern fan less aware of the real concepts of a real football game?
It’s 2022 and people love fantasy football. People love the Madden video game. Both games are tied directly to NFL football, but the rules of the games are not the same. And sometimes it appears that players of video and fantasy gaming try to push the agenda of gaming rules onto social media platforms. Everyone doesn’t do this, but some do. Those that do seem to be the ones confusing what goes on during real football games with what goes on with fake football games from Madden and fantasy football.
The Modern NFL Fan’s Knowledge And Gaming
Every day, someone with wild takes on social media has to be reminded in a football debate that the NFL isn’t Madden. The same is true with fantasy football. For the fantasy football fan, stats are what matters. When players don’t produce the stats the fantasy players wanted, the players begin to micro-analyze stats and label those players bad players. But it’s not that the player is bad in the NFL, it’s that the player may only be bad for their fantasy football game. And that’s when fantasy and reality are being confused with what real NFL football is actually about.
To begin with basics, the object of football is for one team to have more points than an opposing team at the end of the game when time runs out. Vince Lombardi, the former Green Bay Packers coach and the man the Super Bowl Trophy is named after, once said, “football is a game of inches and inches make the champion.” Yes, there are several gamers of both video gaming and fantasy football gaming that understand the rules of football. But there are also numerous gamers that have no clear understanding what Lombardi’s quote means nor do they have any a correct concept of the methodology of a real NFL football game.
Yes, big stats with a lot of yards will give you points in fantasy football. But those yards are meaningless in a real game if the team doesn’t score nor win the game. Adrian Peterson would get fantasy players a lot of points but rushing for 211 yards didn’t help the Minnesota Vikings win against the Chicago Bears on December 1st, 2013, because he didn’t score a single touchdown. The Vikings lost the game by three points.
The same can be true for quarterback play. Former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 443 yards against the Atlanta Falcons on December 22, 2012, but lost the game because he didn’t have a touchdown. For gamers, those yards may have been great. But that is where fantasy is sometimes confused with reality. And yes, there are points scored in fantasy football with touchdowns as well. But in a real football game such as the one Stafford had against the Falcons, because the fundamentals of the game weren’t executed properly, the Lions failed to reach the game’s objective. That objective was to win by scoring more points than their opponent.
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A player can also do well in the game without having giant stats, because that player’s contributions to the game helped secure a win. Last season, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa only had 202 passing yards against the New England Patriots in the first game of the 2021 season. But because he had a passing touchdown and a rushing touchdown, which totaled 12 points, the Dolphins were able to secure a 17-16 victory.
It’s true, the doubters will argue the defense won the game, not Tagovailoa. But if you take away those 14 points, the defenses efforts would’ve been in vain if the final score was only 3-16 in favor of the Patriots. The little things are more important than the big things in winning football games because they are the fundamentals of the game. That is the meaning behind Lombardi’s famous “inches” quote.
Tua Tagovailoa played one quarter of a final preseason game last Saturday and finished with a perfect passer rating of 158.3, 121 yards, and a touchdown. One of those plays was a 51-yard completion to Tyreek Hill. However, once again, he was scrutinized for the throw on both social media and in the national media. Instead of him being praised by everyone that he contributed with Tyreek Hill to an explosive play that moved the chains over half the football field, some people complained that he didn’t throw the ball far enough to score a touchdown on that play, which he eventually did score on the drive.
Certainly, Tagovailoa is his own worst critic as he even said that Hill could’ve scored if he threw it better. But the point is people criticizing that throw have forgotten that the scoreboard doesn’t care how the ball gets to the end zone, whether it’s one play or four plays, as long as it gets there. The football mentality has become so ridiculous that the thought process is that touchdowns should come on one-play drives. People have become so enamored with the details of fantasy gaming that every single play in NFL games is being micro-analyzed now. As a result, the basic concept of just winning real football games is overlooked.
It appears we are living in an era where if the ball has moved to the endzone, regardless of if it’s by way of a few short passes, a pick-six or several run plays, if the quarterback has a great short-yardage goal-line touchdown pass, it’s not good enough. Now, people are under the assumption that stats score points and unless the quarterback had 50-75 passing yards on that drive, the short yardage has no significant meaning to them, nor will any short yardage play score.
And that is where reality and fantasy are becoming confused today. The reality is that if a touchdown is scored on a drive, whether on a short-yardage goal-line pass, or from a long 70-yard touchdown pass, neither scores more points than the other. Both plays score the same six points.
But yet there are some talking heads in the national media and fans getting on social media criticizing plays, with their approach as if the plays on the field must be done a certain way or those six points won’t count. And that approach only makes the person pushing that agenda look foolish. Because in the end, Vince Lombardi never knew what fantasy football, or a Madden video game were. As Lombardi taught his team when he said they needed to get back to the basic fundamentals of the game, so does the modern fan.
Lombardi held up a football and said, “Gentlemen this is a football.” He proceeded to teach the fundamentals of the game. The foolish micro-analyzing of explosive plays needs to stop when passes are completed. If a pass is caught with it being underthrown or overthrown, a completed pass moves chains. Fantasy football and Madden are fun. There’s nothing wrong with playing the game. But those that confuse the fantasy of those games with the reality of real ones need to come out of their fantasy bubble and learn the fundamentals of the game. By doing so, they will learn that football is truly a game of inches, and that truly does make the champion, rather than great yardage.