#NFL100Memories – 11/100

Choosing teams! – By James (&Cathy) Fotheringham – @NFLHypeTrain

So my moment is more of a story of how me and my Wife finally solidified which teams we would support as we grew to live the game. It wasn’t a direct route, in fact, we started with two totally different teams and two totally different reasons.

The journey starts in January 2013. I had just got into the NHL and was following the Penguins but had only just discovered the NFL on Sky. I don’t go out much but an a night owl so I end up getting interested. Having looked into hockey fantasy leagues I stumble on a playoff team selector. I have no idea about anyone but it’s a way of learning, right? I have a fantasy team of sorts and that’s me sucked in for what has now been 6 years. At this point I pick of the 10 teams to support in the playoffs and I choose the 49ers since I enjoy Mythbusters and that’s based in SF. I also like trolley cars and think the Golden Gate is comparable to the Humber Bridge (I’m from North Lincolnshire, it’s one of the better features of the place). It’s shaky logic but when you look at the other 9 teams and know no players it was all I had!

Meanwhile my wife Cath chooses the Ravens because of The Blind Side and Michael Oher. Much more logical than me and of course you know what happens in that Super Bowl… When both teams win their championship games I send in a message to the legendary Kevin Cadle (Rest in peace) and the Sky team to say my team is playing my wife’s team in the Super Bowl… I still remember Jeff Reinbold and Neil Reynold wishing us luck to still be together.

Of course on February 3rd 2013, Cath is the one who prevails as the Ravens win 34-31 in New Orleans. This is the game where the lights go out in the Superdome and the 49ers almost come back from 28-6 down but a missed 2 point try with 10 mins to go and a Justin Tucker Field goal for the Ravens on their next possession is the difference. It’s a blow and I go back to Hockey while football hits the off season.

When August 2013 hits I make a decision which will affect the rest of my life. I get into fantasy football. My first full leagues are just public leagues as it’s still very niche in the UK but I find some leagues and pick some teams purely on guess work. In terms of the NFL as a whole I’m hooked and get two tickets for the Wembley game between the 49ers and the Jaguars in October. To date it’s the only game I’ve seen live in person but it was an epic experience. Colin Kaepernick has a quiet game, Frank Gore got 2 TDs and was in my fantasy team while MJD was the one player Cath had heard of on the Jags.

Cath really got into it and was flying the flag for the “Home” team Jags. This seems to have an effect because when the season ends and Michael Oher is released by the Ravens and isn’t looking quite so elite, she pins her colours on the Jaguars. She liked the underdog story, wanted a team in Florida (since we love Orlando) and with them coming to the UK often she felt they would be easy to support. I decide my logic with the 49ers doesn’t hold up to a loyalty and now I have all 32 teams open to me I look at changing my allegiance.

Jan 2014 I attend my 2nd live hockey game at the Sheffield Steelers in the EIHL. I’m now tied to the Steelers title. My fantasy teams are the Ironowl Steelers (Iron for Scunthorpe United, Owl for Sheffield Wednesday and Steelers for Sheffield Steelers and now…). This is where my allegiance in NFL swaps to Pittsburgh and that becomes “My city”. Sheffield and Pittsburgh are both quite industrial and Steel driven and with a shared name it was an easy swap to make. I was already massively into the Penguins while Cath went back to her “anything Disney or film based” logic and chose the Anaheim Ducks.

August 2014 comes around and I’m hooked on Fantasy Football; I won a title! My first full season playing and now knew the key players for most of the league. There was no going back now! I’m now solidly a Steelers fan and Cath is allied to the Jags. She gets interested in fantasy too (but not to the same level) and the rest as they say is history.

It’s a strange tale but the day my email was read out was my most fun NFL moment while my favourite playing moment is probably a Frank Gore 2 yard TD which happens at our end of Wembley. Even though Fantasy is my main love and the platform for so many of my favourite moments, it’s telling that my highlight comes at the time when I was literally the closest I could be to the action. I really need to get back to a game soon.

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