This is the sixth installment in our ongoing oral history project. You can read previous chapters here.
Heading into the 2011 season, the NFL lockout cast a pall over the OIL. No one knew if the labor dispute would be resolved in time for fantasy football leagues to salvage the season. But this was the OIL; it had faced worse.
Newly-added Yancy Baldwin (who was on the 2006 SECFOR mission and 2008 Ramadi mission) was in Iraq again, so the lockout was the least of our concerns. We'd all been there,some of us more than once. And we'd all known Schuster before he spent months in Walter Reed. That always kept things in perspective.
Everyone hoped for the best and made plans for the season. Fortunately, the lockout was resolved, and year six of the OIL went off without a hitch.
CLIBURN: Duffy upped the rivalry ante in April by publicly calling me out.
DUFFY: And I was committed. I let Cliburn know I wasn't going to let him relax one bit. The Hangovers hated the Arrogant Americans. That extended to our respective Facebook pages.
CLIBURN: Then, shortly after Duffy's taunting, I made our rivalry official. While I was at it, I recognized all the rivalries that had developed over the years. From that point on, week 13 would be Rivalry Week.
This is the fifth installment in our ongoing oral history project. You can read previous chapters here.
The 2010 season was relatively peaceful. Unlike 2006 and 2008, no one was deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Unlike the 2007 and 2009 seasons, no one had just returned from deployment. And, unlike 2009, no one was in Walter Reed this time. It was also the first season after establishing the website in March 2010. But the OIL didn't stop there. They started a weekly podcast to discuss all things football. They made the DBFA a reality. They replaced a successful OIL manager. And they took the next step by ordering a traveling trophy.
Buying Some Hardware
The league really evolved after the 2009 season, and the commissioner wanted a way to reflect that. So he scoured the Internet for traveling trophies and found SculptureAlley.net.
CLIBURN: But I had a dilemma: should we order a new trophy each season or should we buy a traveling trophy? I knew what I wanted, but I put it to a league vote anyway. Fortunately, the league wanted what I wanted: a single, traveling trophy.
DUFFY: That's what I voted for.
This is the fourth installment in our ongoing oral history project. You can view previous chapters here.
The fourth season of the OIL saw many changes and a lot of drama. Not just petty trade controversies, either: life and death drama. Remember, the 158 returned to Iraq in Fall 2008, and they were there risking their lives until August of 2009. That was the year many of us were reminded that our opponents each week were soldiers and friends first, rivals second. And that's where any discussion of that year has to begin.
As the 2008 season ended and 2009 began, the 158 was still in Iraq. Although Betchan, Bruesch, and Purdue were able to compete from Ramadi in 2008, the league was well-aware that their brothers-in-arms were in harm's way. Then, in May, the point really hit home when SECFOR member and future OIL manager Adam Schuster was shot by a sniper.
CLIBURN: What do y'all remember about that?
JESSEN: I was on base walking to the chow hall when Schuster's squad came flying in off mission. SPC Bentley came running over and told me Schuster had been shot. I ran into the TMC to see him, but somebody kicked me out of the room. Parra showed up shortly after and we both were trying to figure out his status was and what was going to happen. Then they took him to a chopper in a body bag which was pretty rough, because we didn’t know what was happening. All we knew was what they kept telling us that he was going to be okay. That was probably the worst day of my whole military career.
BALDWIN: I was on that mission, too. It was a horrible day. I was in First Platoon and Bravo Battery with Schuster on the SECFOR mission, and we'd been really close.
This is the third installment in our ongoing oral history project. You can view the 2006 installment here, and the 2007 installment here.
In the summer of 2008, the 158 was once again notified it would deploy to Iraq. It had been rumored for months, and it was finally confirmed. Most of the league members at that point were still in the 158, and the future of the OIL was in doubt. But OIL commissioner Cliburn was determined to make it happen.
CLIBURN: I was really surprised when we heard the 158 was deploying again. We'd all done the math when we were on the SECFOR mission and thought we'd be home at least a couple years before our number was called a third time (the first being the 2003 activation discussed in chapter one).