Recently I had the great honor to spend some time chatting with one of country music's biggest stars. It turns out that Darius Rucker is also one of football's biggest fans. In fact, he's a die hard Miami Dolphins fan who counts Dan Marino among one of his closest friends. We spoke the morning after the Dolphins got shut out at home by the Bears and I could sense the frustration in his voice as we rehashed the game. "Thigpen never looked comfortable in that game," Darius said. When I asked about Brandon Marshall and his taunting penalty to Jay Cutler, Darius replied "That's what you get with Marshall. He's a great player but you get that stuff too."
So what do you get when you combine a love of the NFL with an even stronger love of your fans? Darius Rucker's End Zone Obsession is the result and the site has become the perfect venue for fans to compete against him and talk trash at the same time. If you're thinking that this is a game in name only, think again. Darius relishes the interactions and has no trouble bringing the smack talk. He even threw a little smack my way when he learned that he had beaten me with the Week 10 picks.
"I'm loving it. At every meet and greet there's always someone there saying that they're whooping me in the game. They're having fun. I'm having fun. Each week 10 people get to win some great prizes and the grand prize is a trip for two to Hawaii," said Rucker.
I've talked about the game recently. It's easy and free to play. Simply register at the site and make your weekly picks. There's so much more to the site such as private leagues and message boards, trophies for your virtual locker room, customized virtual jerseys, personal blogs, and more. The season's almost over so head over and register today!
At the site you'll notice that Darius's t-shirt says "Fantasy Football Legend". Turns out that he's not only a fantasy football fan, but he's also the commissioner of three leagues. "It started out about 6 years ago. My band was a close knit group but at the end it really started to feel like a job. We started playing fantasy football and one of the guys asked why we didn't do this 20 years ago? It was fun. Now I've got a Hootie league, a country league, and a Big Money National league."
I'm a fantasy football nerd but I have to admit that Darius could give me a run for my money. He was just as knowledgeable and passionate about the game as anybody I've ever met. It's a true fan who can remember everything surrounding some of fantasy's best moments. For example, Darius was with his band in a bar when Favre threw that 82-yard TD to Greg Jennings on the first play of overtime against the Broncos in 2007. One of the guys said, "The only way I can win is if Favre throws a bomb to Jennings." The whole place erupted after that throw.
More recently, Darius's security guy went into Monday night's Philadelphia/Washington game down by 58 points. Every fantasy player knows the outcome of that game - yes, that's the record setting performance by Michael Vick. His security guy won that game with a few points to spare. Perhaps that's why Darius offered up Michael Vick as his choice for this year's fantasy MVP. So who does he think belongs at the other end? "Reggie Wayne has to be the Bust of the Year. You expect every game to be a big one but then they double team him. He's so good that you can't sit him, and if you do, that's the week that he has a big game." I'm not ready to agree with Darius on Reggie Wayne as Wayne is still a Top 10 receiver, but I think we all can understand where he's coming from. It's the same feeling those of us feel who drafted DeAngelo Williams or Randy Moss with a first or second round pick. We're expecting big games and then they fall short.
When I asked Darius if he could trade in his music career for an NFL career and which team he'd play for, I should have guessed the answer. "I'd play quarterback for the Dolphins...unless of course Dan Marino was the quarterback, then I'd play wide receiver." We also touched on the NFL's recent crackdown on big hits. "You know, it's a little hypocritical but I understand why they're doing it. They've got to try to keep those guys safe," Darius said.
Whether talking about the NFL, his new site, or fantasy football, Darius had an opinion on it all. I was even able to get a Super Bowl prediction from him. "I would have said Miami and Washington earlier this year, but now it's the Falcons and the Patriots. I'll take Atlanta to win it. It would be huge for that city just like it was for New Orleans."
It was easy for me to forget that I was talking to one of country music's biggest stars. Talking with Darius is like talking to one of your buddies. He's a down-to-earth guy who enjoys football & his fans and has found a way to merge the two. I can only imagine the trash talking going on in his leagues.
Darius visits multiple sites each week including ESPN and FantasyFootballNerd.com for research.
"I love Fantasy Football Nerd. I read it every week."
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