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.
PYLE: I did too. I can't believe two people voted against that option.
CLIBURN: Well, at least no one voted for "no trophy."
DUFFY: Did anyone notice at the time that there were 14 league members and 16 votes?
CLIBURN: I'm sure I did, but the vote was so one-sided that it didn't make a difference.
DUFFY: Ah. That makes sense. It's not like we're electing the president here. A little voter fraud was harmless in this situation.
CLIBURN: After that was settled, the question shifted to which trophy to buy. I put it to another league vote, but this time the league went in a different direction than I would have.
DUFFY: Which did you want?
CLIBURN: I wanted the Two Tone Football Sculpture.
DUFFY: You should have included photos in the post. I just thought the Leatherhead sounded better.
CLIBURN: I included links to the photos, but I guess you guys were too lazy to click on them.
DUFFY: Probably. After seeing all the photos later, I liked the Two Tone one better, too. But the Leatherhead one is "grandfathered" in now. I love it.
CLIBURN: After that was settled, I made our order at Sculpture Alley.net. After looking all over the internet, they were the clear choice to make our trophy. Five years later, I reached out to our rep at Sculpture Alley to find out more about the operation.
SCULPTURE ALLEY REP: Sculpture Alley was started in 2004, but I had been working in the trophy industry longer, in a different capacity.The great thing for me about Sculpture Alley is, and always was dealing with the people, the end users of the trophies, and getting to know folks. That was very important to me.
CLIBURN: They did a great job, and I have fond memories working with their staff. And, to my surprise, they remember us pretty well, too.
SCULPTURE ALLEY REP: What the OIL hammered home was the realization that a trophy was a symbol of a unifying force: it represented the past and the future at the same time.
CLIBURN: In what way? Not that I disagree, but I like to know what others see in our league.
SCULPTURE ALLEY REP: Take the logo for example. You have the football, along with Oklahoma (a very recognizable state outline for any American), but then you also have the Iraqi point of reference within the outline of Oklahoma, which is very unusual. Logos like that stick out.
CLIBURN: What else do you remember about the OIL?
SCULPTURE ALLEY REP: I thought it was amazing that you all served together. I loved how all of those elements were rolled into this symbol through the trophy and logo. So yes, you guys stood out, and you still do.The logo and trophy allude to that story, in a very simple but powerful way. And we're proud of it.
CLIBURN: How many trophies a year does Sculpture Alley produce?
SCULPTURE ALLEY REP: Sculpture Alley does hundreds of trophies, but they don’t all stand out. There are a few that shine much brighter than others, and your league is in that elite group. It’s been my honor to work on your trophies, and I hope Sculpture Alley continues to recognize how important these relationships are. It’s not just a trophy, it really is much more than that.
CLIBURN: The trophy arrived in June 2010 and looked fantastic. I remember immediately taking it to Josh after he got off work.
HASTINGS: It was awesome to see my name on there. I put it up on the mantle as soon as Justin brought it over.
CLIBURN: And I immediately had to take a photo of him with it for the website. I needed the rest of the league to be properly motivated to win it from Josh in 2010.
Welcoming an Old Friend
For whatever reason, Josh's brother-in-law didn't return after the 2009 season, so the league had to choose a new member. This time, the league would be going back to its roots for membership though.
CLIBURN: McLaughlin (Josh Hastings's brother-in-law) was replaced by Ulysses Henderson, who was on the SECFOR mission in 2006. I don't remember why he wasn't still in the league in 2010, but nothing major happened. Plus, it opened up a spot for a guy I was trying to get into the league for a while. Once again, everyone in the OIL was prior military.
HENDERSON: Cliburn had recruited me for the OIL for a couple years at that point, but open spots didn't happen that often. I started out in the MGL in 2009 before switching to the OIL in 2010.
CLIBURN: I was glad Henderson joined the league. And I liked his team name: DARC NARCS.
HENDERSON: At the time, I was in the narcotics division at the police department . . . and I'm a black man, so DARC NARCS worked for me. It rhymed and kind of described who I was at that point.
DUFFY: The name was an instant hit regardless of its origin.
CLIBURN: I was just glad it wasn't CT LPD EMT or whatever it was you used in the MGL the year before.
HENDERSON: I remember you saying I had to change my team name if I was joining the OIL. Anyway, I was confident when I joined the OIL because I'd always won or nearly won the department fantasy leagues.
DUFFY: Either way, I was glad to have Henderson in the league. We'd known each other before the SECFOR mission and were in Second Platoon together as we trained for Iraq. And we were in the same fantasy football league in Baghdad together (before either of us knew about the OIL).
HENDERSON: I'd just like to point out that I won that league in '06.
The Dead Ball Foul Show
Before the 2010 season, Cliburn, Duffy, and Hastings started a weekly podcast: The Dead Ball Foul Show. Its tagline was Life, Love & Football. Each week the men would meet at Josh's house to drink beer and talk football. Fellow OIL managers called in. Listeners called in from Brooklyn, Cleveland and even Germany.
CLIBURN: Trovillo actually found BlogTalkRadio for us. He was going to be a big part of the podcast but, just as we were starting, he got a new job that kept him from it.
TROVILLO: I loved the idea and planned on being a big part of that show. I started looking for platforms we could use to make it happen and stumbled across BlogTalkRadio.
CLIBURN: I remember Trovillo sending me an email with the link. It was perfect. It didn't take long for us be doing a weekly show on it.
DUFFY: We were doing so many things right, but this show made me a believer in our own big thing. I feel like it took a few episodes to get a feel for what we were trying to do. Between Josh's radio voice, the football knowledge, the analysis, and the life commentary, it was special. I remember high-fiving when our live listener count shot above 25. I miss the show, and I think about it often.
Tweaking the Formula
CLIBURN: The 2009 season was the best season to date, but it wasn't quite perfect. The point per 10 return yards for individuals and D/STs skewed the scoring. So, going into 2010, I changed the settings to one point per every 20 return yards and removed return yardage from D/ST scoring altogether.
PYLE: I was glad to see that happen. I understood the reasoning behind giving return yardage points, but the 2009 settings skewed the scores too much.
DUFFY: I remember throughout the years pulling up box scores to try to figure out how my defense actually scored any points in a particular week. This small change would have changed the outcomes of MANY games before, but the change was good and I feel like most people welcomed it, especially those who had recently lost close games decided by a 38-yard punt return.
CLIBURN: And I went away from the 14-week regular season of 2009. We switched back to the 13-week regular season with a championship game in week 16.
The 2010 season was the first with the new traveling trophy, so the stakes seemed higher from the opening kickoff. The trophy was
CLIBURN: Josh was the trophy-holder all season, and it drove me crazy to see it on his mantle every week during the Dead Ball Foul Show. But it motivated me.
DUFFY: I knew our league was special because there was never money on the line yet people acted as if losses were a matter of life and death. That's ironic, because so many people in the 158 took nothing seriously, not even matters of life and death.
CLIBURN: This was the same unit whose member got a "toe tag" tattoo before the 2006 deployment, after all.
DUFFY: Exactly. So, it was a surprise to see so many guys share the same passion for the league that I did.
CLIBURN: The trophy was definitely a catalyst for the league, and I told Josh often that I was going to take it.
DUFFY: And, while Justin openly envied the trophies and made plans to store them at his place for a year, I secretly did the same. I didn't have a good-enough win-loss record to make my dreams known. I was sort of the laughing stock.
CLIBURN: I think that may have been how you saw yourself, but no one was a laughing stock. Certainly not one of the hosts of the weekly podcast.
DUFFY: But I'd never made the playoffs, so I felt like aiming for the trophy was a little presumptuous.
CLIBURN: I made sure the trophy had every previous season's champion engraved onto it, starting with Pyle, of course.
PYLE: I liked knowing my name was on the trophy. Switching to a traveling trophy was the right choice.
BRUESCH: It really was. It made everything feel more "real."
MORGAN: I wish we'd that trophy from day one so I could have had my year with it. But I was glad to see my name engraved on the new trophy either way.
CLIBURN: 2010 was also the first season we had a live draft. It took place at Buffalo Wild Wings and attracted almost the entire league. Those that couldn't be there drafted via phone.
FINCH: I don't remember a whole lot about the draft that year. I just remember liking the feel of a live draft so much more than the online drafts of before.
CLIBURN: Didn't we have a woman running the draft board for us that year? How'd that happen?
DUFFY: Her name was Blakely. Josh and I met her at Mike's Sports Grille, which we frequented for a beer after the podcast each week. We offered her $50 to be our Vana White, and she gladly accepted. It turned out Jessen knew her somehow too.
CLIBURN: That was a nice touch. It was much better than having the drunk guys stumble up to the draft board.
CLIBURN: We determined draft order NFL-style that season, so Morgan had the first pick, since he finished in last place the previous season. I was surprised when he went with Peyton Manning number one overall.
DUFFY: Yeah. QB was clearly overvalued back then. That's really improved since Morgan took Manning first overall that year. Wow.
MORGAN: I felt like Peyton was the safest pick at one, so I ignored the experts and went with my gut.
CLIBURN: I'm not saying Peyton was a bad pick, but I felt like he wasn't worth the top pick. Of course, this was after looking at hundreds of mock drafts and ADPs, so I may have been outsmarting myself.
DUFFY: This was my first draft I remember feeling like I was prepared and actually knew what I was doing. I loved it in 2010; I hate it now. I was a sucker for snatching up two running backs right away, but I don't believe in that anymore.
CLIBURN: And by this time we'd switched to PPR scoring, so the importance of two bellcow RBs was greatly diminished, although that's still hotly debated.
DUFFY: Well, I'm on the "they're less important now" side of that debate now.
CLIBURN: Me too. Especially since I tend to draft in the back end of the first round each year anyway.
DUFFY: I do think I reached that year by taking Packers TE Jermichael Finley in the fourth round (but for the right reasons this time; I thought he was a Jimmy Graham/Gronk type back then) . . . embarrassing.
CLIBURN: 2010 was the first year I went WR-WR with my first two picks, and so did Josh. Our teams looked very similar as a result.
DUFFY: I loved Justin's and Josh's teams. I wanted to redraft right away, but I didn't say it out loud. I pretended to love my draft.
TROVILLO: I couldn't get to Oklahoma from Tennessee, so I had to draft via phone.
CLIBURN: I've got to hand it to my then-fiancée. She communicated the available players to Trovillo as each player was taken off the board.
MRS. CLIBURN: I definitely earned some praise that day. I was the official timekeeper and Trovillo's assistant manager that whole day.
TROVILLO: It was inconvenient, but it was still better than autodraft. I appreciated the help.
DUFFY: Between the two of you, your WRs were amazing. If I was going to compete, my roster management was throughout the season was going to require a lot of wheeling and dealing to upgrade my WRs.
CLIBURN: WRs were definitely the weak spot in your draft.
DUFFY: That draft, I overvalued RBs and undervalued WRs. My new draft strategy is exactly the opposite. I did have Josh Freeman at QB during his one good year though, which is good because Matthew Stafford only started three games that season due to injury.
CLIBURN: I think part of the flaw in your strategy that year was valuing return yardage the same as we did in 2009. In 2009, guys like Josh Cribbs and Leon Washington were extremely valuable. But, in 2010, we'd cut the return yardage scoring in half, so rounds seven and eight were perhaps too early for those guys.
DUFFY: That makes sense. Plus, I drafted Ravens-era Anquan Boldin in the third round and he was a disappointment. Then I reached for Finley one round later.
CLIBURN: This was the first year I went WR-heavy early, so I felt nervous putting all my eggs in that basket.
DUFFY: But it was your mid- to late-round RBs that made your draft.
CLIBURN: True, but I never could have predicted how it'd go. After picking those two elite WRs, I picked four running backs in a row with high PPR upside: Pierre Thomas; C.J. Spiller; Darren Sproles; and a guy named Arian Foster.
DUFFY: Didn't you have Foster in 2009?
CLIBURN: I did, but I didn't start him in the OIL Bowl. He went off that week, and I never forgot his name.
HENDERSON: The biggest mistake I made was drafting Vincent Jackson in the sixth round.
CLIBURN: Drafting him wasn't necessarily a mistake. Yeah, he was holding out, but a sixth-round pick wasn't a bad risk for the potential reward.
HENDERSON: Yeah, the bigger mistake was holding on to him as long as I did.
CLIBURN: It's understandable though. You're always afraid he'll come back as soon as you drop or trade him. That did torpedo your season though.
Any Given Sunday
CLIBURN: Pyle wasn't the only one looking forward to the season. After my draft, I was more excited than I'd ever been.
PYLE: That was a good feeling seeing such a competitively-balanced league after the draft.
DUFFY: I agree. I hate feeling like a quarter of the league is out of the running before the games even begin.
Heading out of the draft and into week one, Pyle made a good point regarding the competitive balance of the rosters:
HASTINGS: Going into 2010, I was a Champion, and I wanted it to stay that way. So I prepared like crazy and went into the season expecting to win. But, now that I had the ultimate bragging rights over Justin, the pressure doubled. Plus, I wanted to dominate the regular season to prove 2009 wasn't a fluke.
CLIBURN: And I felt that pressure, too. 2008 was my breakout year. Then I lost the 2009 OIL Bowl to my longtime friend and rival. So, going into 2010, I couldn't wait to finish what I started in 2009. But, in the meantime, I craved even more competition.
HASTINGS: So Justin and I started a second league that season, too. We named it after our high school football team and numbers: Mac656667. Later I renamed it the Man's Game League though. That just fit.
CLIBURN: Josh's signature line on the DBF show was "Man's Game." It developed naturally, and it seemed perfect for our other league.
HASTINGS: The MGL was just to keep us occupied. Justin was commissioner of the OIL and I was commissioner of the MGL. I don't know when it happened, but the MGL started to take on a life of its own. We wanted a very cutthroat feel to it. One idea was whoever finished last was to be banished for a year. The trash talking and competition were hitting all-time highs, even between the two leagues.
CLIBURN: Josh was my main adversary in those days. He and I were best friends in high school and beyond. We played high school football together, and he beat me in the 2009 OIL Bowl. Duffy and I talked a little trash, but it would take more than a common employer to get me to want to beat Duffy more than Josh.
HASTINGS: We were on a path to dominance in both the OIL and MGL. It seemed that we were destined to meet in either the championship or semifinals.
CLIBURN: It sure seemed that way. We'd met in the OIL Bowl the year before, and both teams began 2010 looking stronger than they ever did during 2009. Plus, both our MGL teams looked great.
CLIBURN: I remember Duffy's team caption going into week one was "the pressure is on, must beat the commish in week one."
DUFFY: It was. Even before there was officially a rivalry week, I knew who I wanted to beat more than anyone else.
The first week of the season seemed like a seamless transition from 2009 as Hastings's ThroatPunchers started their title defense with a 166-point outing against Henderson's DARC NARCS.
CLIBURN: That was a rude welcome for the DARC NARCS. It was Henderson's first season in the OIL, and he started it by going against the highest-scoring team in week one.
HENDERSON: I didn't know anything about the 2009 season, but I competed against Josh in the MGL the season prior. So I knew he'd be tough.
DUFFY: I think we all had kept an eye on that matchup during the first week. No one thought Josh's 2009 season was a fluke, but it was interesting to see if he could follow it up with a successful season.
HASTINGS: And I felt that pressure. I definitely wanted to prove that my run late in the 2009 season wasn't luck. I knew what I was doing, and I wanted to prove it (again) in 2010. That's why I was so satisfied winning my first two games. Normally, I wouldn't care. Weeks one and two don't win championships. But it was a great start to my title defense for sure.
DUFFY: I started the trading that season by trying to pry Roddy White away from Henderson.
CLIBURN: Again, one more year into the league, trades were more easily executed. But we did have that one veto to start the year. What was up with that?
DUFFY: I don't quite remember, to be honest.
CLIBURN: I vaguely remember either one of two scenarios. Either Duffy accidentally accepted a trade and both parties agreed to rescind the trade or the league thought Duffy was pulling one over on the new guy in the league (even though Henderson had played plenty of fantasy football before, including winning the league commished by Hillier in 2006).
HENDERSON: I don't remember exactly either, but both scenarios sound familiar.
CLIBURN: Yeah, I'm sure both of them happened at some point. I just can't remember if this was one of those times. I'm leaning towards the league vetoing it because Brian Westbrook was a backup RB in San Francisco at this point and Roddy White was having his career year.
DUFFY: That sounds about right. But I didn't mourn that trade for too long. I quickly looked elsewhere to bolster my team.
CLIBURN: On September 21, I decided Matt Ryan just wasn't doing it for me at QB1, so I traded away a couple backups for what I hoped would be an upgrade at QB: Donovan McNabb. [NOTE: the trade was processed on September 24, but there was a three-day waiting period]
CLIBURN: In week three, I avenged my 2009 OIL Bowl loss to Hastings's ThroatPunchers. But, of course, the stakes weren't nearly as high, and he still had the trophy.
HASTINGS: I did still have the trophy, but I hated losing all the same. At least it was early in the season though.
CLIBURN: Yeah, and you and I both know that wasn't true revenge. You can't compare winning a week three matchup to a championship game loss.
HASTINGS: No, but no one wants to lose to their rival . . . no matter what week it is.
CLIBURN: True, but beating you that week just didn't make up for that OIL Bowl loss. I'm not sure anything ever could. That loss was heartbreaking.
Andy Reid Screws the Hangovers
The season's turning point may have been week three, when a real-life football coach's decision altered the course of the season for two fake football coaches.
DUFFY: I'd drafted Matthew Stafford in the ninth round, but I picked up Michael Vick after Kevin Kolb was injured in week one. And it looked like I'd lucked into a hell of a fantasy QB until things changed in an instant when Andy Reid told NFL Radio and the rest of the world he was going forward with Kevin Kolb as his QB. So I dropped Vick without hesitation to address another concern.
DUFFY: Josh and I were driving down Flower Mound Round in Lawton. We were about to make that hard left turn onto Rogers Lane (the one where you always see those buffalo) when NFL Radio said:
" . . . in other NFL news, Andy Reid announced Michael Vick will remain the Eagles starting QB following Kevin Kolb's return from injury."
CLIBURN: I'd heard the news, too. And I knew who had number one waiver priority: me. I got Vick and Duffy wasn't the only one upset.
CLIBURN: What's funny is that Schmidt thought he had a chance at him with a waiver priority of nine.
DUFFY: And the rest is history. I tried to claim him back off waivers. Yeah, right. Cliburn had the number one waiver priority that day. Anyway, Vick scored 382 fantasy points that season. I'm getting angry again just thinking about it. It sucks to make bad decisions or be wrong. It is far worse when it benefits your adversary.
CLIBURN: I remember telling two UPS co-workers about it. Brett Cox was like a fantasy football O.G. His first fantasy quarterback was Don "Magic Man" Majkowski. He was old school and used to calculate all fantasy points by hand. So he knew his stuff and he "got it." He knew how important it was for me to have bragging rights at work. He helped fan the flames in that regard. And no one could stir up some stuff like Tim Viani. That guy was incredibly witty, and he enjoyed ribbing whoever lost that week.
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 that year.
PYLE: They're must have been a lot of byes in that week four pillow fight between me and Cobb.
CLIBURN: That's the only way I can imagine it going down. My dream of an undefeated season ended in week five as Rogers's AMMODOGS took me down.
ROGERS: That wasn't my best season, but I liked being the first team to beat Cliburn.
DUFFY: I was just glad someone knocked off the 'Mericans. They seemed invincible there for a while.
CLIBURN: But I bounced back the following week and beat Trovillo in a fairly high-scoring matchup.
TROVILLO: The only thing I hate more than scoring 145 points and losing is scoring 145 points against Cliburn and losing.
CLIBURN: I was really happy to get home from work and see this message posted. As commissioner, I loved that someone was acknowledging how great the league had become.
HASTINGS: There's not much to say that I didn't say in that message. The OIL was special.
DUFFY: I'm not going to lie: I was pretty motivated by Josh's message.
CLIBURN: Me too. It made me feel so accomplished as a commissioner that I'd cultivated this. And hearing it from Josh, my longtime friend, made it all the more rewarding. He wouldn't bullshit me. This message was when I knew our league had really arrived.
DUFFY: I had my first 200-point outing in week seven against the AMMODOGS.
CLIBURN: And I appreciated that, since he'd ruined my perfect-season bid.
DUFFY: But then I turned around and stunk it up the next couple weeks.
CLIBURN: So you went from 200 points to less than 100? You must have had a lot of byes that week.
DUFFY: I remember several times I couldn't break 100 points. I don't think it was byes, just bad luck and bad decision-making.
CLIBURN: Going into week nine, I made one last trade. C.J. Spiller was disappointing, so I traded him and two QBs (remember, I had Vick) to Bruesch for Peyton Hillis. He would be my W/R for the home stretch.
BRUESCH: That trade worked out for me because my QB situation was really bad at that point. And Spiller wasn't too bad for me. I won my first matchup after that trade and felt pretty good about it.
DUFFY: I was almost doubled-up by Leal's Nobodies in week nine: 144.45-77.95, and my up-and-down season continued.
CLIBURN: It was a pretty bad stretch for the Hangovers there in the middle of the season. That's for sure.
DUFFY: It was. But I kept the faith, and kept on trucking.
CLIBURN: Schmidt was a threat to make the playoffs all season but his 81-point performance in week nine may have ensured he didn't go further than week 13.
PYLE: That's typical Dead Again though. They always threaten for legitimacy and then lay an egg.
CLIBURN: And that's why you're maybe the most entertaining rivalry in the OIL.
Weeks 10 and 11
CLIBURN: In week 10, Michael Vick scored 60.65 points in the greatest fantasy game a QB had ever had in the OIL. I had to work at 0330 and it was a Monday night game, so I didn't see all of it. But I sure loved checking the score the next morning.
PYLE: Aside from a few teams, the entire league was finishing strong. It's not often I score 161 points and lose, but that happened in week 11.
CLIBURN: I know it's starting to sound like a broken record in this oral history project, but it seems like that happens to you more than anyone else.
PYLE: It does. I'm just glad someone else sees it.
CLIBURN: In November I once again changed the playoff policy mid-season. But that would be the last time I made such a big change during the season. But I had my reasons:
CLIBURN: I remember telling Brett about it at UPS. He was unconvinced though.
COX: I told Boots that's just something you don't do. But it was his league, and he was the commish. So I just let him know that'd never fly in my longtime league and let it be.
DUFFY: On principle, I didn't like this move, but only because it happened midseason. I agreed with the reasoning.
LEAL: In hindsight, it didn't really affect me all that much. But I know I didn't like it at the time. In 2009, I was on track for the number one seed and a first-round bye. Then Cliburn switched the playoff format from six teams to eight teams. That took away the first-round bye, and I got upset in the first round. Then, in 2010, Cliburn was on track for the number one seed and he switches from eight teams to six? Yeah, I was a little upset at that abuse of power.
CLIBURN: It was an abuse of power, but not a self-interested one. I know it's hard to say that when I benefitted from it directly. But I stand by the reasoning behind the move, and we've kept that playoff format ever since.
Weeks 12 and 13
With two weeks left in the regular season, there was still a battle for the last playoff position.
As the regular season drew to a close and the playoffs began, four teams finished strong: Cliburn's Arrogant Americans; Duffy's Hangovers; Hastings's ThroatPunchers; and Jessen's DominationStation.
CLIBURN: As the playoffs began, I knew my fate hinged on Vick staying healthy, so I did something I'd never done before: I picked up my QB's handcuff.
In the first quarterfinal matchup, Duffy's Hangovers made their playoff debut against 2007 champion Morgan and his Whackers franchise.
DUFFY: This was my first playoffs appearance. I lucked out. I just wanted to beat Cliburn. I looked past this game and it fortunately didn't cost me a win.
MORGAN: After my championship in 2007, 2010 was my first season back in the playoffs. I hated losing, but at least I showed that 2007 wasn't a fluke. And, at the end of the day, I still had my name on that trophy.
In the other quarterfinal match, original OILers Jessen and Pyle met in a classic DominationStation vs. Lucky Enuf contest.
JESSEN: I had a 6-7 regular season record, so I was just glad to make the playoffs. But I peaked at the right time and knocked off Pyle. I was surprised to find myself in the semifinals, but I was glad to be there.
PYLE: 2010 was just another disappointing season for Lucky Enuf. Not much news there.
CLIBURN: The week leading up to our semifinal matchup was incredible. Remember, we worked together every morning at UPS. And we spent a lot of time outside of work drinking beer together and hosting the DBF Show.
DUFFY: Thing is, I always envied the guys that won regularly. But for all the reasons we became rivals, this game meant a lot. I wanted a piece of Justin's squad so I could win and speed up my journey in search of credibility.
CLIBURN: I spent the semifinals week in the hospital, so I don't actually remember knocking Duffy out of the playoffs.
DUFFY: I hate losing. I hate it more when it's Justin in the other end administering my beatings.
The other half of the Final Four pitted Jessen's DominationStation against 2009 champion Hastings and his dominant ThroatPunchers team.
CLIBURN: Josh ended Jessen's season, and it wasn't even close. I felt bad for Jessen because he had finished strong and beat a former champion in the first round. But Josh's team was too stacked.
JESSEN: I'd made a good run late in the season, but I was still a six-seed. Still, it sucked getting that far only to be routed.
HASTINGS: Like I said earlier, Justin, Duffy, and I all competed in both the OIL and MGL that year. And Justin and I met in the MGL's semifinals. I won that game by fractions of a point, overcoming some clear cheating by Justin.
CLIBURN: Hey, if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin' right?
HASTINGS: Yeah, well it doesn't make it right. Anyway, even though that semifinal matchup was in the MGL, it had a long-lasting effect on the OIL. It's what led to the "Bullshit Joe Fucking Webb" rule.
CLIBURN: See, during the 2010 season, Yahoo! had Joe Webb listed as a QB/WR for the Vikings, even though he played QB exclusively that season. In the semifinals of the MGL, I needed a WR but the waiver wire was thin. So I inserted Joe Webb into my WR slot, even though I knew he was starting at QB that week. In essence, I got to start two QBs against Josh.
HASTINGS: Thankfully, Justin's cheating didn't work, and I went on to the MGL championship game.
CLIBURN: The following week, on the Dead Ball Foul Show, Josh said I never deserved to win because I'd used "bullshit Joe fucking Webb" at WR. That rant inspired Section VI (e) of the OIL bylaws:
VI. (e). Players may only be inserted into roster positions that correspond with the position listed on that player's official team depth chart, as accessed on www.NFL.com, otherwise known as the “Bullshit Joe Fucking Webb Rule” (for example, in 2010, Yahoo! listed Joe Webb as a QB/WR, however the Vikings official depth chart had him listed only as a QB. Therefore, the only eligible position for Webb in these leagues was QB.).
HASTINGS: I'm just glad I won that matchup. Imagine how upset I'd be if you'd won with Joe Webb at WR. But that was in the MGL. Over in the OIL, we both won our semifinal matchups, setting up a rematch in the OIL Bowl.
CLIBURN: And this time it wouldn't be in unpredictable week 17, thank God. This time it'd be best on best. This time I wasn't leaving Arian Foster on the bench.
OIL Bowl Rematch: #2 ThroatPunchers vs. #1 Arrogant Americans
HASTINGS: I liked facing Justin again in the OIL Bowl. He and Duffy were the two guys I knew the best, after all.
CLIBURN: And I have never wanted to beat someone as much as I wanted to beat Josh in the 2010 OIL Bowl. We were best friends in high school and beyond. We played football together for six years. And, of course, he beat me in the 2009 OIL Bowl.
HASTINGS: Plus we talked football every week on the DBF show. There was a lot of trash talk going into that game.
CLIBURN: I was out of the hospital by then, but I was still in a lot of pain. When we realized I was going to win, my wife said "you did it!" and I just slowly pumped my fist in pained silence.
MRS. CLIBURN: That was the saddest thing. It was like he couldn't even enjoy it.
CLIBURN: Inside, I was ecstatic. But I hated that it wasn't a rout. Josh took me behind the woodshed in 2009, and that'll always stick with me. But a win's a win, you know? I mean, that was a great team Josh had.
CLIBURN: Aside from QB, Josh had a hell of a team that year. It's easy to see how he went 11-4. LeSean McCoy was a monster that season, but he didn't do as well in week 16.
CLIBURN: I went 14-1 that year, thanks in large part to Vick. But I had a fantastic team all around. I drafted Arian Foster in the fifth round. I had Darren Sproles in a PPR league and Peyton Hillis during his one good season.
2010 Champions: Arrogant Americans (14-1)
DUFFY: That was the first season we had the Harrington Trophy from week one, so that made it worse. I can't imagine anything worse than seeing your number one fantasy rival win the league.
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 they took their rivalry seriously is an understatement. The business at UPS took a backseat to their drops and trades that season. They both schemed daily to outdo each other. But Justin was the first one to win the trophy, and he made sure everybody in our center knew about it.
TIM VIANI: That was hilarious. I remember Boots taking a picture of himself and the trophy in his Sunday best . . . and plastering the photos all over the office! Everywhere Adam looked he saw Justin and the trophy.
DUFFY: I couldn't help but laugh when I came into work and saw that.
CLIBURN: I had Martha at work take the photo for me. She was laughing so hard, we had to do it in a couple takes.
VIANI: That rivalry made for some good times around work because it could be pretty mundane otherwise. I liked to pour fuel on the fire whenever I had a chance . . . then I'd sit back and laugh at how hard they took it when they lost.
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.
The Rest of the Story
The following are the final rosters of the 12 teams that did not make it to the OIL Bowl, in order of finish.
JESSEN: I think that was Darren McFadden's one good season. Other than him, my team wasn't that good.
DUFFY: I was disappointed finishing in third place, but I had a 7-6 regular season record. So third place was actually pretty good. Still, it was just another season without a championship.
PYLE: That's what I get for having Eli and Sanchez both on my roster.
MORGAN: Peyton Manning didn't disappoint as my first-round pick, but my RBs were horrible. My RB2 that year was Keiland Williams? Wow.
SCHMIDT: I had a really good QB and RB corps, but my WRs held me back.
COBB: I had a pretty good team. Not great, but not bad either. I could have been better at QB though.
ROGERS: Aside from beating Cliburn, it was a pretty disappointing season. Rodgers carried my team, and my RBs weren't bad. But, aside from DeSean Jackson, my WRs were pretty bad.
FINCH: Matt Schaub was actually a fantasy stud that year. Welker did really well, too. And Chris Johnson was the fastest guy in the league at that point . . . but the rest of my team was a bunch of high-end turds (hence the 5-8 record).
LEAL: Aside from Brees, Harvin, and T.O., I didn't have a very good roster that year. I guess that's why I finished 4-9.
BRUESCH: My WRs held me back. I had a great corps of RBs and my QB was great. But this is a PPR league and my WRs weren't very good. I learned from that.
TROVILLO: This was my worst season. Nothing seemed to work.
HENDERSON: That was Miles Austin's big year, so I was very happy picking him. And Philip Rivers was really consistent for me all season, but my RB corps was horrible and it cost me big time.
Starting a World War
HASTINGS: Neither Justin nor I were satisfied with just competing for intraleague supremacy. The rivalry between us projected itself on the leagues and was the catalyst for the World War.
CLIBURN: The idea was simple: have the two champions of each league square off in a week 17 matchup. It gave us one extra week of fantasy football, although we presented as a way to see who was the better manager and which was the better league.
DUFFY: We hatched the idea at a Mexican restaurant in Lawton. We ordered another trophy and named it the Trophy of Versailles.
CLIBURN: The Treaty of Versailles ended World War I, and we were about to start our own "World War." So, it sounds silly, but we named the DBFA prize the Trophy of Versailles.
HASTINGS: It was another piece of hardware to claim and throw in other managers' faces. I won the first World War and brought home the Trophy of Versailles. But the best part was I topped expectations. I blew everyone away, especially Justin.
BRUESCH: I liked the idea of the World War, and looked forward to competing in it myself one day.
World War I:
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San Diego Chargers
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The D League