As designated rivals, that matchup occurs every year in week 13's Rivalry Week. They played each other 10 times from 2007-2013 with the rhetoric rising each year. Their respective Facebook pages compete for fans and talk trash throughout the offseason.
Occasionally, the men would spend the weekend "in the field" at Fort Sill. But most drill months, the men would drive 30 miles east on State Highway 7 to Stephens County to spend their weekend as part of B Btry 1st Bn 158th FA regiment. Both were at the armory one morning in late 2004 when Duffy gave Cliburn a heads up on a job.
Duffy worked for UPS, and Cliburn interviewed for and got the seasonal position. In January 2005, Cliburn landed a more permanent position there, and the two of them saw each other every morning in the similarly-outdated UPS building on the south side of Lawton, Okla.
CLIBURN: He went 3-10 that first year (competing as Left of Center), and we played each other in week 11. I won 78.00-53.00 but I don't remember bragging too much. I mean, he was 3-10, and I didn't make the playoffs anyway.
DUFFY: I didn't know who six of those guys were that year. And Cliburn was the only Bravo guy in the group. He was also the only UPSer. So, from the beginning, he was the guy I focused on.
CLIBURN: But it wasn't until 2008 or 2009 that we really bragged about OIL victories at work. I won our 2008 matchup and we played twice in 2009, each winning one (it was a 14-week schedule that season). I won the week 13 matchup that year 192.80 - 89.30 and had fun rubbing it in Duff's face. It was before Rivalry Week became official, but there was no denying that week 13 matchup was special. Maybe that's what gave me the Rivalry Week idea.
CLIBURN: And part of it may have been we saw each other every morning, but it was for short periods of time. Duffy had a million things to worry about before my shift ended. I was loading 1,000 packages in three or four UPS cars, so I was busy too. What little time we had seemed better used talking about the big picture than talking trash about a single matchup.
DUFFY: That's true, too. Plus, we knew we'd see each other at drill each month anyway. There was time for trash talk there. UPS was an environment that regularly manufactured stress. Cliburn and I always seemed to mutually cherish a five minute football conversation as it was a way to "stop the bleeding" every morning. You know, I'm not really sure what we talked about during the off season. I can't say I remember talking about anything else unless it was work related.
Evolution of the League and Rivalry
When I joined a fraternity in college, we had a Web site with a private forum. More trash talk occurred there than you could imagine. And the OIL Web site created similar opportunities. It provided us with a chance to talk trash with an audience. It turned trash-talk into an art. It was a performance, and the message board improved everyone's trash-talk performances.
DUFFY: We eventually started a Facebook group and that siphoned traffic away from the Nabble forum. Eventually, we focused exclusively on the Facebook group and that's where the rivalry's trash talk blossomed. Honestly, we had to instigate some rivalries in the league. Others existed before the league was created. Cliburn and me . . . ours didn't seem to fit either mold. It was different; it came naturally.
CLIBURN: At some point, we deleted the Nabble forum altogether. The Facebook group was just too convenient, and no one posted on the original message board anymore. But it still had a big role in the evolution of the league and the OIL Web site.
Focusing the Hate
CLIBURN: But we knew that if anyone found out they'd accuse management of helping some drivers at the expense of others. That was the environment at UPS. Drivers already accused management of playing favorites, so we never implemented it. It was a good idea though. It showed how ubiquitous fantasy had become in our lives that we were looking for ways to fantasize mundane, everyday things like work. Those fantasy UPSers discussions were ultimately a failure, but they were a lot of fun.
JOSH HASTINGS: I was a part of the OIL the first year it wasn't in Iraq. That was 2007, and I finished in last place. I decided at that point to take an entire year off to get serious . . . to actually learn instead of winging it and relying only on football knowledge. I read everything and anything I could: drafting strategies, roster management, trends, analytic processes, player consistency, evaluations, expectations, every bit of player news, any and all tips and tricks.. I wanted to not only win but win it all. When 2009 came around I made sure to ask Justin for another invite because this time I was ready.
CLIBURN: I knew he was serious then because we had weekly meetings to go over our ever-growing draft binders. I didn't think he'd win the league, but I knew he wouldn't finish last again.
HASTINGS: I went into 2009 armed with the right knowledge. It's really a basic and simple piece of advice: know your league's scoring settings. I had a plan to grab the most consistent players, add a few from free agency and bank on my players hitting their stride just as I made the playoffs. I barely made the playoffs with a record of 7-6, but the strategy still paid off. I breezed through the first two rounds as expected. I made the championship, facing Justin's Arrogant Americans, who not only beat me every time we faced each other but had glided through the season virtually unscathed.
CLIBURN: I really thought I was assured victory. Hastings was 7-6 and had finished last in his only prior season. But, like I said, at the time, there was no one else I wanted to beat more. I went to junior high and high school with Josh. We played football against each in grades 4-6 and with each other for six years after that. Still, I didn't take him seriously.
HASTINGS: I could have easily been satisfied with just being in the final. But no, I wanted to beat Justin to put an exclamation point on my return. We decided to get together and watch that week's worth of football at his place. It was me, Justin and Adam. That day was filled with beer, food, and trash-talk.
DUFFY: The only thing that could have made that day better was if I was in the championship. Everything was set up perfectly. Like Josh said, we had beer, food, trash-talk and a fantasy football championship. And these guys had years of history together. It was great, but it was clear pretty early that Cliburn was going down.
HASTINGS: To sum up what took place: down goes Justin's two top players: Wes Welker and Maurice Jones-Drew! And it happened early, too.
CLIBURN: I was in the kitchen getting more buffalo wings when that happened. I thought Josh and Duffy were joking when they said Welker had gone down.
HASTINGS: And I had added and started Devin Aromashudu that week. Weeks 16 and 17 of 2009 were the only fantasy-relevant weeks of his career. But I had him. I knew it was sealed when I saw Justin's shocked face in the doorway to the living room. No matter how many times he hit refresh on his computer, the final score was not changing. I was the champion and had my exclamation point.
CLIBURN: That stung. It stung bad. I stuck with my studs, and it cost me. But no one could predict that Welker and MJD would go down, or that little-known Arian Foster would go off on my bench. Anyway, there was no question Josh was my biggest rival at that point. It would take a lot to get me to focus on someone more than I did Josh.
Andy Reid Fuels the Fire
" . . . in other NFL news, Andy Reid decided to go with Michael Vick following the Kolb injury"
BRETT COX: I remember that. The rivalry was ugly and fierce in those days. Duffy seemed to always be on the ugly end though . . . with losses piling up like empty margarita cups on Bourbon Street. We gave him Hell every Monday morning for being beat before the Sunday Night kickoff. Because Boots Callahan (Cliburn) was my immediate supervisor and our shift started at 0430, we always got the news of Adam losing early. It got really ugly the year Justin won the championship.
BRETT COX: I remember the day the trophy arrived. It was a big day for both Justin and Adam, each wanting to be the first to hoist the grand prize. To say these guys took their rivalry seriously is an understatement. The business at UPS took a backseat to their drops and trades. They both schemed daily to out do each other. Justin was the first one to win the trophy, and he made sure everybody in our center knew it.
CLIBURN: I love that trophy. We ordered it from SculptureAlley.net and couldn't have been happier with the results. I loved posing with it.
DUFFY: I did take losses hard . . . especially when I worked with my rival and had to see him carrying the damn trophy around at work, showing it off to co-workers who know you're in the same league and, by extension, know that you are not a fantasy champion.
But then we created the DBFA and instituted a rule: no one could be in more than one DBFA league. Josh was the founder and commissioner of the Man's Game League (MGL) and he wanted to stay there. He left the OIL, and it allowed us to add Yancy Baldwin. I hated to see Josh leave because he'd dominated the league in his two years in it. But I understood his logic.
HASTINGS: Instead of keeping the status quo, I wanted to move forward with what we'd created. But I knew I could not be in both the OIL and the MGL. What if I won both? Who would be in the World War? I only saw one option: leave the OIL. As hard as that decision was, it was the most logical one. Sadly, that meant my rivalry with Justin would take a backseat. It wasn't that hard though. We both have a ton of respect for each other so the transition was easy. In 2011 and 2012, I won the MGL's Call Memorial Cup, adding a three-peat and five championships to my fantasy resume.
CLIBURN: Josh made the announcement on the Dead Ball Foul Show. It took Duffy and me by surprise, but we couldn't argue with his logic. And he was making the MGL something special. Plus, he was expanding into more of an analysis role.
HASTINGS: The best part about it is it inspired me to become an actual sports talk radio host, on the very station Justin and I grew up listening to: KXCA 1380 AM in Lawton. That helped me develop my own brand of sports talk: The Visitors Section podcast. But all the failures before that got me there, and without them I would not be where I am today.
CLIBURN: And that explains a lot why there were no hard feelings when Hastings left the OIL. When he did, it allowed the two of us to confer with each other more on fantasy decisions. And it allowed me to focus my attention on beating Duffy.
DUFFY: I couldn't let the Arrogant Americans outdo me, so I commissioned a new logo at 48hourslogo.com. I ordered a Hangovers jersey with the new look, and then I one-upped him by ordering an official Hangovers mug and clock from our league store. That CafePress store was huge for us. The sheer number of items available was insane. And they all looked amazing with the new Hangovers logo emblazoned on the front.
I wanted something subtle to highlight the Hangovers element of the name.
DUFFY: I was really happy with how the logo turned out. The artist did a fantastic job. It was based on the old Packers design.
So, the beer mug within the H was perfect. And, rather than a shadow of the outline of Wisconsin behind it, I went with the shadow of Vince Lombardi.
And the color scheme and logo looked perfect on the official Hangovers jersey. It was worth the money; that's for sure.
Moving Beyond the Warehouse
DUFFY: I started dating Leslie about that time. She was (is) the best friend of Cliburn's wife. They were both an only child, so they always felt like sisters. Cliburn and I saw each other a lot more at drill and in social situations with those two organizing outings so often. At drill, we relayed our trash talk through other guys in the league on the drill floor. Jessen and Rogers helped perpetuate the rivalry in those days. They even developed a rivalry of their own.
DUFFY: It didn't matter. They made fun of our league in general. The Facebook pages just took it up a notch is all. This was before Matthew Berry's Fantasy Life came out and finally brought fantasy football into the mainstream, so I wasn't surprised when the ladies laughed at us taking our rivalry to Facebook.
Making it Official
That meant I had to determine who would serve as league rivals each season. With Josh Hastings out of the league, I thought the choice was simple. By that time, it was clear that Duffy and I were rivals. Christopher Trovillo said he wanted me as his rival, and I understood why. After all, I was really the only one in the league he knew personally. But I saw Duffy every week day from the 2007 season through my championship 2010 season. When I designated the Hangovers as the rival of the Arrogant Americans, I was just acknowledging what we already knew.
DUFFY: There was no question. I can't even think of anyone else who could have been my rival. It just made sense, and it felt like it had been that way the whole time.
CLIBURN: It's hard to believe that Rivalry Week has only been around since 2011. It seems like its been a fixture for so much longer than that. In my mind, I envision Duffy and I discussing each Rivalry Week matchup every year. But I instituted Rivalry Week in the summer of 2011, and I moved to Norman later that summer. Duffy and I never discussed our Rivalry Week matchup at UPS because I was long gone by then. But it's a testament to our rivalry that it feels like we always did.
DUFFY: True. It all developed organically and that's why designating us as rivals seemed like a mere formality. Even in my 4-9 season, I was doing all I could to position myself to beat Cliburn in week 13.
CLIBURN: Same here. In 2011, I was 5-8. But I didn't throw in the towel because I wanted bragging rights after Rivalry Week. Unfortunately, the Hangovers trounced us in week 13. I didn't make the playoffs, so that was my last game (and loss) of the year. I hated it.
Taking the Rivalry on the Road
Things really changed when we didn't live an hour away anymore. I had a million things going on with moving, being away from my girlfriend while she worked on selling her house, starting a new job, learning a new place. But we still found time to keep our rivalry and that's what kept me sane and made me feel like little had changed.
CLIBURN: Once Leslie moved up there, it was a lot harder on her and Deanne. You and me could text, email, and post Facebook insults. That's all we really need to keep our rivalry going. They're different though. They're "touchy feely" in a way that men never understand.
DUFFY: Definitely. All we needed was the OIL, a cell phone and an Internet connection to make things feel normal.
Raising the Stakes
DUFFY: It still wasn't first place, but it was better than Cliburn. And I beat him during Rivalry Week that year, which was the first season we had an official Rivalry Week.
CLIBURN: Maybe it makes me a bad rival, but I was actually hoping Duffy would win it all that year. I was already out of the playoffs, so I didn't have a chance. Plus, I mean, I felt sorry for him. I didn't want it to be like the Bedlam rivalry where one side is always a contender while the other just lives to beat its rival.
DUFFY: That's what I'm talking about. Those are the kind of smug best wishes you get from the Arrogant Americans.
CLIBURN: That and our dry wit. When the Hangovers were in the midst of a downward spiral in 2012, I sent Duffy a sympathy card. "We are so sorry about your losses," it read. That was the best $3.99 I ever spent.
CLIBURN: I did it to keep it light. I went 5-8 the year before with much the same injuries and bad luck. I knew exactly how it felt.
DUFFY: What made it worse was that Cliburn won the OIL Bowl that year . . . again, while I went 4-9 and got an insincere sympathy card in the mail. But it's stuff like that that makes the rivalry last. I wouldn't expect any less from the Arrogant Americans. It just gave me that much more motivation to win in 2013. I hated going 4-9. Losing seasons are just not acceptable . . . not when you have someone like Cliburn around to rub salt in the wound.
DUFFY: Yeah, but I lost to the Arrogant Americans in the semifinals. That stung. I was poised for a championship, and then my number one rival knocked me out of the playoffs. I'll never forgive Jacob Tamme for the 1.9 points he gave me in the most important game of the season.
CLIBURN: It had to sting scoring 175 points and losing. Duffy would have beaten the other two semifinal teams that week. I was excited. I just beat my biggest rival and I was going to the OIL Bowl to avenge a .5 loss earlier in the season against Cobb's Dogs of War. I was favored, and he had multiple injuries. He was relying on Bilal Powell as a starting RB in the OIL Bowl.
COBB: In Bilal Powell we trust.
CLIBURN: Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds? Someone relying on Bilal Powell in the championship game? Surely, I would win, set a record for most OIL Bowl championships, and rub it all in Cobb's and Duffy's faces. I started celebrating before the games even kicked off. My third championship was a foregone conclusion. But I lost the OIL Bowl. All that celebration was for nothing.
DUFFY: Meanwhile, my Hangovers were 6-6, having clawed back from 2-5. I needed a win to make the playoffs.
CLIBURN: And I needed a win if I wanted a shot at the first-round bye. But it wasn't meant to be.
Keeping it Alive
CLIBURN: It is certainly moving in that direction. One of us has finished in the top four every season since 2008, in the top three every year since 2009. No matter where we finish though, no one will focus on a single game more than we will during Rivalry Week.
DUFFY: People should know we do have lives outside this rivalry. We put a lot into it, but we still have our priorities. We're not deadbeats in our mom's basement. Cliburn is married and just finished law school.
DUFFY: And, during much of our rivalry, each of us worked between 50 and 70 hours a week on top of having our monthly National Guard obligations. The rivalry was something to think about other than work, and it required little time. Maybe that's why the league and rivalry became so important to us: it kept us sane.