This is the 10th installment in our ongoing oral history project. You can read previous chapters here. After final proofing and editing, it will be published in The Book of OIL: Volume Five (2015). Look for it on Amazon.
Celebrating 10 Seasons
2015 marked the 10th season of the OklahomIraqis League. It was special, and, behind the scenes, Cliburn had been thinking about it for years.
CLIBURN: Every summer, I reach out to guys asking where they'd like to have the draft party. In 2012, I text Pyle about it and mentioned our 10-year draft.
PYLE: I gave him my opinion about the 2012 draft, but I reminded him that we needed to do something big for the 10th season.
CLIBURN: So I was brainstorming ideas for quite a while.
PYLE: The thought of a SECFOR reunion had briefly crossed my mind a couple of time before celebrating Killman's life, but when a large number of us gathered to celebrate Killman's life, reality set in that we need to be reuniting on a regular basis. Once again the OIL served its original purpose of providing a means of bringing everyone together.
DUFFY: I think everyone realized the need to get the band together after SECFOR brothers Joseph Killman and Michael Tenequer passed away.
CLIBURN: True. After the tragedy of Killman's and Tenequer's deaths, my thoughts turned from having the best draft party to having the best reunion.
DUFFY: And, since expanding by 14 teams in 2014 had turned out well, Cliburn wanted to expand again.
CLIBURN: I knew the key to re-connecting and staying connected to more SECFOR guys was by getting them invested in the league. That's what had kept me in touch with the current SECFOR guys, so it made sense. I may have jumped the gun though.
DUFFY: I was pretty withdrawn when Cliburn first brought this up. On the one hand, I had visions of something from The League where we would go somewhere like Vegas. On the other hand, I lived in Wisconsin. And I had become all too familiar with drafting remotely. I was excited for the rest of the guys, but I assumed I'd be drafting online again whether or not everyone else did something cool.
CLIBURN: The closer we got to it, the more I started thinking of it not as an epic draft party, but as a reunion.
DUFFY: And, by expanding the league by 14 teams, we realized this could be a 42-man reunion. At that rate, it could be a chance for the whole SECFOR group to reunite. So that's what we did.
Hiring a New Designer
CLIBURN: In the midst of planning a reunion and finding expansion members, we had to hire a new designer for our team logos, as well as one for our league logos. For team logos and uniforms, we hired Michael Taylor. He was a member of the SportsLogos.net message boards, as was Hector LaVie, who created our league, conference, and championship game logos.
Adding 14 More Franchises
CLIBURN: The closer we got to the draft, the more nervous I got about actually filling out the new conference.
DUFFY: Which is weird because, to us, this is the greatest league in the world. Why would anyone not want to be a part of it?
CLIBURN: Exactly. I was politely turned down by quite a few former SECFOR soldiers, and I was shocked. I just had to focus on being happy that the guys who did join were excited to be a part of it. I think the first one to join was Cordes, who took on the SECFOR Sixers identity I'd floated out there.
NATHANIEL CORDES: There was only one reason for me to join the OIL: it was about reconnecting and maintaining the relationships that were built during the 2005-2006 deployment to Iraq. I think the OIL has a great thing going for it. And it's a great tool in the healing process that soldiers face after a deployment like the one we had. I chose SECFOR Sixers . . . well, because that was our mission back in 2006. It just fit.
AARON GRAY: I was living in Enid and wanting to keep in touch with the SECFOR guys. Cliburn asked if I wanted to join the league, and I said yes . . . even though I'd never played before. I chose the Great Plains Drifters name after Cliburn suggested it.
ZACK BRAKE: I'd actually played fantasy quite a bit before, so I knew what was I doing. But I also wanted to get back in touch with the guys I deployed with.
JIMMY MITCHELL: I also joined for the camaraderie. I wanted to keep in touch with the SECFOR guys. I'd played fantasy before, but it was my first year in the OIL. My team was the Nightmares.
CLIBURN: Why'd you decide on that one?
MITCHELL: It was listed on the page of available team names. Sorry. I wish I was more original, but I'm not.
CLIBURN: You did take it a step further and make it based on Freddy Krueger though.
JASON BELLAR: Cliburn reached out and asked me through Facebook if I wanted to join. I'd wanted to reconnect with some of the guys from the SECFOR deployment, so I signed up as The Xtreme.
CLIBURN: What's the story behind that name?
BELLAR: It was chosen by my kids. That was the name of the little league baseball organization a good friend, my wife, and I started. All three of my older kids have played for the team, and my daughter still does.
BILL STRAILY: I joined the OIL mostly to reunite with the SECFOR guys.
SCOTT BUEHRE: I signed up because I thought it would be a good way to stay connected with some of the guys from the SECFOR mission. I chose the name Dirty Dogs because that was our platoon name during the SECFOR deployment.
CLIBURN: Had either of you played fantasy football before?
STRAILY: Yeah. 2014 was my first year playing though, but I enjoyed it. I named my team the Enforcers because I was a civilian cop for so long.
BUEHRE: Yes and no. I co-managed a team with someone during Randy Moss's rookie season, so it had been a long time since I'd played fantasy football. And this was my first year on my own.
DEREK "LIL B" BALDWIN: I agreed to join the OIL back in May when "Brick" Cliburn asked me if I wanted to join the fantasy football league they started on the SECFOR mission. I didn't realize there even was an OIL, but I was honored to be a part of it.
CLIBURN: Had you played fantasy football before?
D. BALDWIN: No. I never had because I don't gamble, and I always had the impression that's what it was about until I agreed to join the OIL.
CLIBURN: I'm glad to hear that. I never wanted the OIL to be about money. It's about friendship and brotherhood.
D. BALDWIN: I learned that pretty quickly. I love how it started as something to keep your mind occupied and grew into something to keep you connected to the ones who had your back over there.
VINCENTE PIERRE: I thought the league sounded like fun. I'd played fantasy before, so I knew what I was doing. I chose the name Mechanics because . . . well, I'm a mechanic.
RANDY MCKAY: I chose Orangebloods because I was always the lone Texas fan in the unit.
CLIBURN: I convinced Jon Gomez to join as the Preppers, and he and Grant Hudson made 12. Hudson agreed to take on the Combovers name I'd suggested. We still needed two managers, but, like I said, I was turned down by quite a few SECFOR guys. So I reached out to other veterans.
DERRICK TADLOCK: I was told about the league by Jessen. He knew I'd played fantasy football for about 10 years, and I was member of the 158. It was an honor to be invited because of what this league really means. I signed up and created Team Tadlock. That's what our family calls itself.
BRIAN GAUTHIER-OGLESBY: I met Cliburn at Powerhouse Bar in Oklahoma City that summer. I was a USMC vet and he and I hit it off right away. A few months later, he invited me to the OIL. I had never played fantasy before but I accepted.
CLIBURN: Plus, we added SECFOR soldier Don Roe to take the place of Briscoe in the AFC.
ROE: Cliburn had emailed me asking if I'd be interested, and I jumped on the chance. I'd never played fantasy before, but I knew I could learn that. What mattered to me was being in touch with all the SECFOR brothers.
CLIBURN: Roe took Briscoe's spot. Briscoe joined the AFC in 2014 but quickly realized fantasy football wasn't for him. So, his team shows up as [Team Redacted] in the league archives.
ROE: I chose Rebel Alliance because I'm a big Star Wars fan.
D. BALDWIN: I picked my team name because I thought it fit great for a football team. I had something else picked out, but then Brick suggested the Blue Falcons. I thought it was kinda catchy . . . especially for such an Army-centric fantasy football league.
OGLESBY: I chose the name Vandals because vandals fuck shit up and I wanted to believe my team would too.
CLIBURN: I had big dreams for our reunion and draft party, and I knew it take some money. So I started contacting news organizations with our press release. I knew we had a good story that people could connect with, but I had no idea we'd reach so many.
DUFFY: It seemed like we were constantly texting ideas back and forth. This is when things started transforming from visions and dreams to reality and actual plans. The more people that made contact with Cliburn, the more it seemed we were going to be able to make a big deal out of this. The draft, the reunion, and the media coverage began to take shape and you could feel the excitement and optimism growing, even through text messages and emails. Cliburn and I stay in touch, but we seemed to have more random phone calls during this period than we had in quite some time. It's funny: we used to get excited when our website reached a certain number of hits, but that seemed like small potatoes once this started getting traction.
CLIBURN: I gained a new respect for event planners and public relations managers during that summer. Between social media updates, media interviews, fundraising, securing locations for the reunion and the draft, booking hotels and flights, it seemed like it never ended.
PYLE: I was sending press releases to every news outlet I could think of, and I made contact with the IPLOs and the 49th MP that we served with to spread the word. Then one evening, out of no where, I turn on the news and there is Justin's mug on the local news spreading the word. I truly do not know how Justin found enough time in the day to accomplish everything he accomplished while working full time. We were all sharing the Go Fund Me page through social media and email. I can't even explain the response we received from my local community in Anadarko. Donations were being made left and right.
TROVILLO: I had a vested interest in the fundraising for the draft. I had hoped that I would be able to attend my first draft with all of the members, and the fundraising was going to give me that opportunity. When Justin said that I had a ticket reserved it was a bittersweet moment. I finally had the means to go, but the timing was the worst possible. My daughter was due to be born that weekend, and there was no was that I was leaving my 9-month pregnant wife at home, alone, with no one near enough to help in the event her water were to break. I was going to have to miss again. While sad, I was okay with it.
Planning The Draft Party
While the reunion was held in Oklahoma City, the draft was held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
CLIBURN: I'd been racking my brain all summer trying to think of a place to hold the draft. Then a sales rep from the stadium contacted me through our website.
CLIBURN: So I started asking the guys, and they loved the idea. Even Duffy.
DUFFY: It's no secret that I'm a Packers fan. But this seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for us.
PYLE: Well, the Dallas Cowboys are my team. There, I said it. With that said, I was super stoked about conducting our draft at AT&T Stadium, especially when Cliburn indicated that we may get to do our draft from the press room and we would get to go up to the podium to announce our picks. I was like, "ARE YOU SERIOUS?!"
Yahoo! Covers the OIL
CLIBURN: In the run-up to the reunion, Yahoo! Fantasy Sports writer Andy Behrens wrote an article covering the OIL. Better still, the good folks at Yahoo! agreed to interview OIL managers at the draft for a feature video on the league.
"We didn't mean to auto-draft,” Justin C. Cliburn said. “But the Internet in Baghdad wasn't the most reliable."
LEAL: That reunion was great for me. I wish others would/could have come, but seeing everyone that did come was incredible.
REED: I had a great time catching up with everyone and finding out what everyone was doing with their lives. I wish more people would have showed up, but life is busy. It brought back some good (and not-so-good) memories of all the things we encountered in our deployment. I wish more of my squad would have been there, but it was a great weekend and I look forward to the next one.
CLIBURN: I was really hoping your squad leader (SFC, later 1SG, Williams) would have been there. I couldn't get in touch with him though.
PYLE: I thought the reunion was fantastic. It was really great to see so many of the guys I served with, many of whom I hadn't seen or spoken to since 2007 (I ETS'd in July 2007, shortly after our return). I do wish everybody could have made it, but the turnout was still great.
LEAL: I loved that even though I hadn't seen some of the guys in years, we fell right back into our old ways during that weekend.
CLIBURN: Definitely. I hadn't seen some of those guys since the SECFOR mission, but it felt like just yesterday. We had guys come in from Wisconsin, North Dakota, Colorado, Houston, and beyond.
PYLE: And it wasn't just 158 guys that came. Lt. Col. Zimmerman Ret. (Capt. then Maj. during the SECFOR mission) flew in from his residence in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Michael (our interpreter while in theater) also flew in from Tampa, Florida. Lt. Col. Zimmerman made contact with Gen. Don Currier and convinced him to come from Sacramento. I was really happy that most of our squad was able to attend. I probably should have been more help to Cliburn and Duffy setting everything up, but I was just so happy to reunite with everyone.
CLIBURN: I was perfectly happy to let you enjoy the reunion. That was why we put in all the work.
FITZGERALD: The reunion was awesome. I had always been the type of guy that talked to everybody in the unit, so catching up with everybody asking about their lives, wives, kids, whether they were still serving or out and working was really cool for me. And I loved that one of the IPLOs that worked with one of the Baghdad platoons came and that Gen. Currier came.
CLIBURN: That was our squad's IPLO, Ben Jackson. He drove all the way from Illinois.
FITZGERALD: I was surprised by the senior leadership from our SECFOR company that did not attend, especially with Duffy coming in from Wisconsin and many guys coming in from all around Texas.
ZERGER: The reunion in Bricktown was great. It was awesome that we had such a great turn out and that we had hotels provided for us if people needed them. It was great catching up with everyone, and hearing stories that had been forgotten. I thought Henry Hudson's Public House did a great job of taking care of us.
BRAKE: I couldn't stay for long because my company was really busy, but I loved the short time I got to spend there. I just wish I could have joined everyone the next day at the stadium.
LYNN: I really enjoyed seeing everyone at the reunion. I live in North Dakota now, so I rarely see anyone from the deployment.
NATHANIEL CORDES: First, I would like to thank Cliburn and those that played a bigger role in making this two-day event happen. I know a lot of hard work and planning was put in before, during, and after to make the reunion go off without a hitch. The night of the reunion was a mixture of emotions for me. I was happy to be drinking beer and eating with those that showed, and I was in a slightly frustrated mood towards the ones that couldn't make it to the event. I wasn't mad at the individuals for not showing up or pissed-off directly at them but more disappointed or selfish that I couldn't reconnect. Again, the reunion in Bricktown was awesome and was a real blessing to be a part of.
STRAILY: I loved my first season in the league, but the best experience was definitely hanging with the guys in Bricktown during that reunion weekend.
GRAY: I remember pulling into bricktown excited to see everyone but couldn't find a parking spot. It pissed me off because I had to piss like a racehorse, whatever that really means. I don't know. When I finally got to the bar and saw everyone I felt the brotherhood hit me pretty hard. It was a good feeling to have again I must say. That night was awesome catching up and drinking with everyone.
DUFFY: At some point, I looked around and couldn't find Cliburn.
LEAL: No one could. It was like he disappeared.
CLIBURN: Then I returned from my car and everyone knew I'd left to take a quick nap. It was a long, exhausting weekend and we'd been going since 1000 that morning.
CLIBURN: The morning after the reunion was rough. I think we all got 90 minutes of sleep or less, and we had to be on the bus by 0500.
DUFFY: After having a successful reunion and catching up with everyone, I was stoked. The morning of the draft was no different. Even though I got hammered, I was up early the morning of the draft, blasting George Michael, drinking a beer in true Wisconsin fashion. The bus ride was a blast, and we enjoyed some beers and heckled each other and caught up on old times.
ZERGER: I loved that we splurged on a bus to and from the stadium. It was a great rapport-builder for the "main league" and the expansion leagues.
LYNN: The trip down south was a little painful due to the hangover I had from the night before.
BUEHRE: The bus ride down was definitely fun listening to all the guys' war stories . . . some I hadn't heard before.
CORDES: The bus ride to the Cowboys stadium was another good benefit for us to take part in. Not only was it a great idea because there were a few of us, including myself, that was feeling the effects from the night before, but the bus ride gave plenty of us another opportunity to dive deeper into conversation and reconnect. Stories, pictures, memories, and phone numbers we shared amongst everyone during that early morning trip to the stadium.
CLIBURN: Of all the decisions I made regarding that weekend, I am most proud of the charter bus. That ride down was so much fun. I'll never get tired of hearing those war stories . . . or the stories of drunken nights at AT.
PYLE: The bus was a fantastic idea! It brought back memories of hanging out in the barracks (or in our tin cans in Iraq) cutting up, laughing, and telling stories (some of which may have been exaggerated a bit).
BUEHRE: I knew that if I'd gone to sleep Saturday night, there's no way I'd have been able to wake up and go to the stadium. So I just stayed up all night and rolled down there like we were on 24-hour ops.
PYLE: I honestly don't believe Buehre remembers anything from the ride down to the stadium.
CLIBURN: He looked like a dead man, but we all did.
GRAY: I was super tired on the bus at first but as soon as we stopped and got the beer I felt reinvigorated. The rest of the ride to Dallas was mostly a blur to me but I still remember that it was a blast.
ROE: I didn't ride the bus and sorry I missed that opportunity. My girlfriend wanted to come with me since she is huge football fan. We drove down on our own but we should have ridden the bus.
BROSH: The bus ride down was actually the only part of the day I didn't like.
CLIBURN: That's just because you weren't in the back drinking with us.
CORDES: Third, we off loaded at the stadium, things seem to go pretty smooth. However, it felt a little awkward when the staff was finding a room for us to do our draft session. It seemed our party was being accommodated but at the lowest level. The draft room that our party was put in was a play/kids room off to the side hidden at the lower level of the stadium. When we walked into the room designated for our fantasy draft, there wasn't much time to set anything up because our party quickly transitioned to the stadium tour.
DUFFY: I thought the actual draft was like a really bad ending to a great movie (our fantastic reunion weekend). Once we got to Jerry World, I stepped off the bus and basically got yelled at for holding a beer (which would never happen at Lambeau). We were herded together and brought through the front door. Everything went downhill from there. For one, our venue was not all it was cracked up to be. We ended up in some daycare/practice room.
GRAY: I agree. When we got to the stadium, everyone was a little upset that we couldn't bring the beer inside and I recall Cliburn saying something about capitalism. Tough shit, guys. AT&T stadium was pretty daunting from the outside, but when we got inside is when the magnitude of the structure really set in. Besides airports, it's probably the biggest building I've ever been inside. A monument to that capitalism shit you were talking about.
PYLE: From there, Cliburn, Duffy, Bruesch, and myself were pretty busy.
CLIBURN: We stayed back to set up the draft room while waiting for our Yahoo! interviews, so we didn't get to tour the stadium. But the rest of the league did, and I think they enjoyed it.
PYLE: And going on the tour of the stadium with the group would have been fun, but I'm happy that I got to assist in setting up the draft room and making sure that everything worked. Three conferences drafting simultaneously without a hitch is no small task! I liked that we had plenty of room for all three drafts, but that draft room clearly was not equipped for our needs. But as always, we improvised and overcame all obstacles, making it a very successful draft.
DUFFY: As far as the tour goes, I don't think we missed much.
CLIBURN: . . . says the guy who hates the Cowboys. I'm not a Dallas fan either, but I would have liked to take the tour, just like I enjoyed the Lambeau tour we took two years prior.
CORDES: The tour was great and had plenty of things to see and talk about. The lunch was probably the worst part of the whole tour. The concession stand was humming at full price! From there, all of us went back to the draft room to begin the draft party. Overall the draft went smooth with the amount of teams involved and those that couldn't make the trip and had to remote in for their draft picks. All in all, not too bad.
LYNN: I almost lost my mind when I had to pay $20 for a hot dog and a beer at the concession stand. Also the lack of beer during the draft was painful.
DUFFY: The tour culminated in getting us together for a photograph and instructed to eat overpriced stadium food quickly before the beginning of the draft because we were not allowed to eat in the daycare.
JESSEN: You might think Duff is joking, but it really was the daycare room for all the stadium workers. They had little bitty tables and chairs, toys, and sign-in sheets behind where we were drafting.
DUFFY: It really felt like we were being babysat. On a brighter note, once we got beyond the first couple rounds, the draft went well as far as the fantasy football aspect. I loved my team (I would learn later that I was wrong for that).
CLIBURN: What'd we miss on the tour?
ZERGER: I thought the tour was okay; the draft room was so-so. I think a lot of things were promised to the commish that weren't delivered. I think we could have just as easily drafted in a hotel bar or conference room and had a bar tab that would have paid for most people's drinks.
CLIBURN: I was disappointed in the draft day experience, but I'd been working on it for months. I'm not sure anything would have met my expectations. Our rep at the stadium had not necessarily promised anything, but he'd talked about drafting from either the field or the post-game press room.
ZERGER: Also we could have paid for pizza or something. I hated that we couldn't bring in our own food or drink . . . or any beer (not even their beer).
CLIBURN: I don't blame our stadium rep for that though. Those are contract clauses with the companies that spend a lot of money to be sold in that stadium. As for the beer, that sucked. I promise you as Commissioner, I will never allow a non-alcoholic draft again.
ZERGER: I think you did a great job overall but didn't exactly get what you were led to believe could happen. Weirdly, my favorite part was the bus ride and extending the reunion with everyone.
BUEHRE: I thought the draft room had plenty of room for us, if nothing else.
CLIBURN: It did. But it was kind of like they rolled some old field turf under the bleachers and called it a room. We were at AT&T Stadium but it felt like we were in the catacombs. That being said, there was a college football game there the previous day, and the crew was having to replace the field before the season began.
TADLOCK: I thought the draft day experience was really cool. The tour was great, and I loved the setup of the draft room.
ROE: I enjoyed the draft and seeing the stadium and as always being around my brothers again.
BUEHRE: Tours of huge stadiums like that are always two-fold for me. First, I think it's great that they can spend all this money to have all of the top-of-the-line equipment, rooms and amenities for the players and the fans. Then I think of how much it cost to demolish and build the new stadiums, and I think about all the other things that money could be used for. Like, with our group, most of us would probably think of homelessness and other veteran groups that could be funded for a good period of time with the amount they spent on one building. But I understand the first thing on all owners mind is making money . . . after all we are in America.
GRAY: Our tour guide Barry was a nice gentleman for letting me out to smoke. It seemed to be miles to find a door to the outside world but we finally found one. The only thing I can remember about the tour really was how jealous my brother would be (he's a die-hard Cowboys fan). Most of the pictures I took were to enrage him. The draft room was somewhat dungeon-like but it was still a good venue in my opinion.
LEAL: I thought the tour was cool. The room the draft was held in didn't live up to what I had in mind and who doesn't allow beer at a fantasy draft? WTF?
BROSH: Having no alcohol in the draft room really sucked, but the rest of the day kind of made up for that.
STRAILY: I thought the draft was awesome. It was a great experience, so it'll be hard to top.
CORDES: Now about my draft picks...Ha, I messed up right from the get go and it showed during the regular season. Next year, I will have a different mindset for picking players. I better. I can't keep getting my butt pounded like I did this first season with the OIL.
GRAY: The actual draft was pretty nail-biting for me. I didn't know (and still don't know) shit about pro football, let alone fantasy football. I was texting my friend every five seconds with updates and he tried to keep up as best he could. I feel he did a good job, and the draft went well for me overall. When the draft was over I felt relieved. The bus ride back was a good time but knowing it was bringing our reunion to its final destination made it a little melancholy in nature. Overall the experience was badass, and I can't wait to do it again at the cabin next year.
ZERGER: The thing that bothered me about the stadium was, we couldn't bring our own food or drink in, so that was kind of a drag.
FITZGERALD: The draft location was fine for me, being a local guy. However, I should have certainly remained in the OKC area the evening of the reunion rather than head home to Fort Worth. The tour guide gave me shit for having a Rams t-shirt on, but that serves me right for being a Rams fan in the first place.
HENDERSON: I was just pissed I was going to miss a chance to be inside Cowboys Stadium. I had to work Labor Day weekend for the police department and couldn't make it. At least the Commish did me a solid and drafted for me though.
MITCHELL: I wasn't able to make the draft party, but I was able to draft my team on my phone. It was easy and enjoyable as far as the process goes.
FITZGERALD: I used the player rank printouts that Brick prepared for us during the draft. I didn’t have the same awesome feeling that Duffy had walking out of there, but I felt more confident going into my second fantasy season.
FINCH: The draft sucked for me because I missed the damn bus to Dallas. I was way too hungover and tired to drive down there, too. So I just decided to draft from the comfort of my own home. But draft time rolls around and the Yahoo! draft room never opens. So I called Yancy and he informed me you guys were already drafting. I said WTF? and hung up on him like it was his fault. Poor guy.
YANCY BALDWIN: Finch never learned the saying "don't shoot the messenger."
CLIBURN: I thought I'd made it clear we were using ClickyDraft.com instead of Yahoo!. ClickyDraft was developed by a Reddit user and allows for a hybrid draft where you get the live draft experience while allowing others to draft remotely.
COBB: I also thought we were using Yahoo! so you obviously didn't make it clear enough.
FINCH: I was so pissed, I thought about saying fuck it and not playing. But my momma didn't raise no pussy, so I took on the team drafted for me by my sweet battle Clyburn. It must have sucked for him drafting his own team and someone else's too. Thanks, Brick.
CLIBURN: It did suck, but I didn't want you to get screwed by autodraft . . . even though I definitely sent multiple emails about ClickyDraft.
CORDES: After heading back to the hotel at the drop off point, everyone pretty much went their respective ways. I thought about that weekend for several more weeks and very much missed everyone. I can't wait till next year! Lastly, if all I have to complain about was the lunch at the Cowboys Stadium, then things were pretty much golden for me. Again, Cliburn and those that played a big role for the reunion and fantasy draft party, I tip my hat to you guys for all your efforts.
NFC Draft Results
ROGERS: I was laughing and telling stories the whole down on the bus, but I was strictly business when it came time to draft. I prepared more than I ever had.
CLIBURN: I don't know if I've ever heard someone more confidently announce a draft pick than Rogers did when he selected Antonio Brown at 1.04. You could tell he knew all offseason who he was taking.
TROVILLO: I really hate that I wasn't at the draft to experience that firsthand. I still haven't met most of the guys in the league, and I've been in since 2007. I was drafting from home in Knoxville, Tennessee instead. Then I had trouble logging into the new draft system and ended up missing my first pick. That was fine though, as it was a pretty well-known fact that I was taking Le'Veon Bell, who was on my 2014 championship squad.
CLIBURN: I made sure that happened for you, but I didn't know what you wanted after that.
TROVILLO: But then I was logged in and still wasn't able to make my picks. Although I had made my second-round selection (Brandon Marshall), my next pick was auto-selected (Aaron Rodgers). While Rodgers was very productive (409 points), if I had my pick counted, I would have taken Brandon Marshall and Emmanuel Sanders at the 2.14-3.01 turn.
CLIBURN: So that would have given you Le'Veon Bell, Brandon Marshall, and Emmanuel Sanders to build your team around.
TROVILLO: Exactly. I had a plan going into the draft, but I didn't get to execute it. Instead, I got behind in the draft and had to start scrambling from the get-go. Fortunately, I was able to snag Marshall later in the draft, but Sanders was gone by the time I got another shot in the fourth round. Jimmy Graham in the third round was also auto-drafted. I got so fed up that I eventually gave up. I was screwed from the start. I knew I was going to have to rely on trades, and just started planning how to get the best players for what I had available. I was the defending champ, but the playoffs seemed really far away to start the 2015 season.
CLIBURN: I was surprised Bruesch chose Eli Manning. After all, Jack's two championship teams had superstars at QB: Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. And Eli was 29-29 from 2011-2014.
BRUESCH: But I'd had Eli before.
CLIBURN: Yeah, in 2009 . . . when you went 4-10.
BRUESCH: But there were other issues that season. I like Eli. He's kind of a safety blanket. You're not going to get crazy numbers out of him, but he's very consistent. And, for the price you pay for him, it's good value.
DUFFY: That's very true. It plays right into the late-round QB strategy I ascribe to. This was the first draft where I found myself going "damnit!" at least once every single round. Our league gets harder every year as everyone seems to get better and better. What I was shocked by was Cliburn choosing Jeremy Hill at 1.13.
CLIBURN: I had my reasons, but I was also really distracted. I was inputting the draft picks for every team and actually drafting for five teams.
BRUESCH: I sat next to him during the draft, and I felt bad for Cliburn. He was way too busy to concentrate on his own team.
CLIBURN: It's a bad excuse, but I'll take it. Honestly, other than Hill, I felt really good about my draft at the end of the day, drafting for five teams or not. It sounds crazy now, but I was ecstatic I got Ryan Tannehill in the eighth. And I reached for him, but I was thought I got incredible value in Arian Foster in the third round.
DUFFY: I understood the logic, but I thought you could have waited to get him.
CLIBURN: I probably could have, but I wanted to make sure I got him. Other than Hill, Foster, and Tannehill, I don't remember many individual picks. I do remember Pyle getting testy with me drafting for other guys though.
PYLE: No, I actually felt bad for you drafting for so many teams. I knew how you wanted everything to work perfectly and go off without a hitch. That wasn't the issue at all. My issue was with the mid-draft advice you were handing out to individuals that were present at the draft . . . the same individuals who went on to have decent seasons and then talk shit about how great their team was.
CLIBURN: Man, I don't want someone to get a player they shouldn't just because another manager picked a guy on IR right before them.
PYLE: Screw that. I say, next time, let their sorry asses draft a kicker with a torn ACL in the eighth round. It's not my, nor any of the other 12 members, fault that particular ass hat failed to conduct any research. It happens every year, and you always chime in with your two cents. STOP IT! I did my own research; let them do their own research.
CLIBURN: Who was I helping? The entire draft still feels like a daze.
PYLE: Well, one thing I remember was Leal was about to draft somebody that was out for the year and you chimed in telling him not to make that pick. That's when the Yahoo! story aired my comment "So, you're a draft adviser now, too? Is that what's going on?" Then Leal acts like his team was so great by his own doing.
LEAL: My team was great by my own doing. I was the one that took the risk on Brady. And, if I remember right, Pyle was the one with two or three guys huddled behind him and his laptop during the the draft talking about who to draft next. Besides, looking back at my draft, I drafted Montee Ball, who had already been cut. So, if Cliburn was telling me who not to draft, he did a bad job.
CLIBURN: What blew my mind was Jessen taking Andrew Luck in the second round. He never took QBs early. But, paired with his first-round pick of C.J. Anderson, his team looked pretty damn good.
JESSEN: I really thought after those first two picks I was going to finally get over the hump and win my first championship. I am definitely going back to my old ways of drafting.
HENDERSON: I hated that I couldn't draft my own team, but I was pretty happy about getting Cam. Thanks again, Commish.
CLIBURN: I remembered you'd had him in 2014 when you upset me in the first round. So, when he was available in the seventh round, I made sure you got him again.
PYLE: That was the best team you drafted. Jamaal Charles; Cam Newton; Devonta Freeman; David Johnson, etc.
CLIBURN: How'd you feel about your own team?
PYLE: I left AT&T Stadium feeling pretty good about my draft. My only regret at the time was taking Greg Olsen in the fourth round. I felt good about a WR corps of Odell Beckham, Jr. and Emmanuel Sanders with Tony Romo at QB. I wasn't ecstatic about my RBs, but based on all prior info up to the draft, I felt Justin Forsett, Giovani Bernard, and Danny Woodhead would be productive. I had heard some good things about Matt Jones and Tyler Lockett and I felt both were well worth the late round picks. I went into this draft really searching for value and production from my later round picks. I felt I had that with those guys, but maybe my best late pick in hindsight was the Red Rocket, Andy Dalton. I can honestly say I didn't foresee Romo going down so early in the season and I definitely didn't foresee Dalton being a top-five QB for most of the year.
DUFFY: I remember spending much of the bus ride back to OKC digesting lineups and making predictions. We always think we're so smart at the beginning of the season.
CLIBURN: I spent a lot of the bus ride back inputting the draft results into Yahoo!. Then we talked about which managers drafted best. I remember thinking Rogers had the best team going into the season. Antonio Brown, DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, Kenny Stills, Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon, Matt Stafford . . . it looked like a perfect PPR draft.
Heading into the season, the NFL suspended Tom Brady four games for his role in "Deflategate." Then, just before the OIL draft, a federal appeals court overturned the punishment. But the NFL filed an appeal immediately, so no one was sure Brady would suit up in week one. Brady's draft stock plummeted, but a few OIL managers weren't afraid to pounce on him.
LEAL: I had no problem taking Brady! And I'm glad I did. He won me games all on his own from the outset. He was an amazing sixth-round pick for me.
TADLOCK: I jumped on him in the sixth, too. It wound up being a good move. He was my most consistent scorer throughout the season.
NEELY: I snagged him in the eighth round in the AFC.
AFC Draft Results
As the OIL managers prepared for the draft, player after player went down with injuries: Jordy Nelson (ACL; season-ending); Kelvin Benjamin (ACL; season-ending); Arian Foster (groin; out 3-6 weeks). But not everyone was paying attention.
REED: It wasn't long into the draft that I had to ask Cliburn what to do about Neely. He took Jordy Nelson, even though he was out for the year.
NEELY: Man, I had just spent time TDY at Fort Jackson. I didn't realize Jordy was injured!
CLIBURN: I always hate to see someone waste a pick like that, but Neely owned it.
ZERGER: I was shocked Lynn took a WR first overall, but I thought it was a good move.
LYNN: I did a lot of research before the draft, and I thought he was my best bet.
CLIBURN: Here's the thing about Lynn. When he decides to take something on, he does days of research into it. I remember him telling me everything there is to know about the French Foreign Legion (from when he'd considered joining it years earlier). If only everyone researched as much as Lynn, the draft wouldn't be nearly as fun.
REED: Absolutely. After he made his first-round pick of DeMarco Murray, Peacock said "Okay, I'm gonna blow everyone's mind with this pick" and then he drafted Sam Bradford . . . IN THE SECOND ROUND. I said yep; you did. Mind blown!
PEACOCK: I just thought I would pick a few sleepers that everyone else would overlook. Well, in hindsight, that wasn't the case now, was it? Thanks for all the shit I took on that one!
CLIBURN: And you only got more shit when you chose Peyton Manning in the third round.
PEACOCK: I thought he'd play like he did the previous 14 years and I'd be able to trade him for a king's ransom.
CLIBURN: That wasn't the last time Reed had to get my opinion on a perceived draft snafu, either.
REED: I had to get Brick's opinion on Venable. He was the defending champion, but he chose WR with his first six picks. Something seemed off.
CLIBURN: I asked if it was autodraft, but Venable was actually logged in. So we let it continue.
VENABLE: I was on a camping trip in rural Washington. I had enough reception to get logged in, but it kept going in and out.
REED: I wasn't surprised Brosh was awarded the best draft. He seemed really into it the whole draft.
BROSH: I got a lot of advice from my brother that day. Part of my draft success was picking Arian Foster so late. If he came back and played like himself, I got a top-five RB in the sixth round.
PFC Draft Results
BUEHRE: The number and position of players was different than what I was thinking and it ended up going a lot faster than I anticipated. I did have my cheat sheets but after the fourth or fifth round they kind of went out the window and just used the computer recommendation. Initially, I thought it was pretty good draft, but Eddie Lacy really let me down as a first-round pick. That's what I get for drafting a Packer as a Vikings fan.
TADLOCK: I was able to draft my own team at the stadium, but I wasn't too excited with my results. I thought it was a pretty average draft to be honest. I do wish there would have been more guys from my league, the PFC, in attendance. But it is brand new after all, so maybe the 2016 draft will have more PFC managers.
D. BALDWIN: I know I was trying to draft my own team, but I don't think I did. I was on my phone and it kept auto-drafting or something.
CLIBURN: What did you think of your first draft?
D. BALDWIN: I was new to fantasy football, so it was all confusing. It was kind of hard for me because I've always been a Dallas Cowboys fan . . . so to cheer for a player from another team wasn't something I had done before.
MITCHELL: I was happy with my draft, especially with Jamaal Charles as my number one pick.
STRAILY: It was a great weekend. The reunion was so much fun. The bus drive down was perfect, and I enjoyed the stadium tour. The only thing that made it better was finding out Yahoo! awarded me the best draft. That bus ride back, I felt pretty good.
The End of the DBFA
DUFFY: As the season dawned on us, I knew the DBFA as we knew it was over. Josh Hastings had dissolved the MGL, my brother Noah wasn't keeping up with the Norse, and the expansion conferences complicated things.
CLIBURN: Remember, the DBFA was what we referred to as a "competitive confederation of fantasy football leagues." They each had the same league settings and competed in the "World War" in week 17. But, with the MGL disbanding, and the Norse falling by the wayside, it seemed like the OIL was the only DBFA league left standing.
DUFFY: I hated how the MGL turned out. Mostly, I hated it for my fellow 13P Stephen Pennington. He was in the MGL, but he was also a 158 guy.
STEPHEN PENNINGTON: I met Hangovers manager Adam Duffy in 2011. We started a league together for the B 1-158FA FDC section called the Bravo Bar Hoppers. He told me about the DBFA and we modeled our league after those settings. I ended up winning that league, and when a spot opened up in the MGL the next year, Duffy recommended me for the job. I was in the MGL for three years placing fifth in 2012, third in 2013, and third again in 2014.
CLIBURN: How did you feel about the MGL disbanding?
PENNINGTON: I was upset. I fully expected to have my name engraved on the Call Memorial Cup before it was all said and done. I just didn't expect it to be done so soon. But I was in plenty of other leagues, so I thought I'd just focus on them and move on.
The 10th OIL season had plenty of storylines going into week one. Who would win the NFC? Would Bruesch, Cliburn, or Pyle win a record third OIL Bowl? Would someone new break through? Or would Trovillo repeat? Over in the AFC, could Venable repeat? And who would win the PFC in its first season? Would it be a veteran fantasy manager or a rookie figuring it out as he went along?
NFC Weeks 1-2
CLIBURN: I felt incredibly confident going into week one. I was projected to go 9-4, and everything felt right with the world. It was good to see Pyle projected to make the playoffs, too.
PYLE: I hadn't made the playoffs in three years, so I was glad to see Yahoo! believed in my draft. I just hoped I could live up to the expectations.
LEAL: In hindsight, I think Yahoo! projected Brady to serve a long suspension because I was projected to go 2-11.
Sometimes the best moves go under the radar, and that was the case with Bruesch. Before the first game even kicked off, he added a WR from free agency that had, historically, been a fantasy dud.
BRUESCH: With Kelvin Benjamin tearing his ACL before the season started, I thought Ginn was worth a shot. Cam Newton had to throw the ball to someone.
DUFFY: As usual, Cliburn got the trading started before the first full slate of games was finished.
CLIBURN: I had Arian Foster, who would miss the first few weeks of the season. So I wanted his handcuff in Alfred Blue. I thought I upgraded at TE while Trovillo upgraded at RB.
TROVILLO: Trading with Cliburn has become an early-season tradition, it seems. I was thinking DeMarco Murray was an injury waiting to happen in Chip Kelly's hurry-up offense and Ryan Mathews would be a valuable handcuff.
BRUESCH: I thought I was upgrading my WR corps in a big way here. And, if D-Jax had stayed healthy, I may have.
TROVILLO: I was happy to give up the boom-or-bust nature of DeSean Jackson for the steady-eddy PPR dynamo Kendall Wright. And I thought Darren McFadden would be fantastic behind that Dallas offensive line.
CLIBURN: I got trounced in week one. The season started with Jessen, Rogers, Duffy, and Leal looking like the favorites, and I hated that I was near the bottom.
JESSEN: It was nice to start out 2-0 after some down years. It was even better to beat Cliburn and Duffy in consecutive weeks.
PYLE: I was staring down the barrel of a schedule that began with my first four games against the previous four champions. I was not too pleased prior to the draft. After my draft, I did feel confident though. Week one, my team laid an egg and I wasn't too happy. Week two my squad bounced back and performed like I was hoping they could. Plus, a win against Cliburn always adds an extra level of satisfaction!
FINCH: The only thing worse than missing the draft was having Cliburn pick my team and then starting out 0-2.
CLIBURN: I thought I did a pretty good job drafting your team. You just had a bad first two weeks. Your text message made me chuckle though.
FINCH: We were both doing poorly to start the year, which is why I said both your teams sucked.
AFC Weeks 1-2
ZERGER: Yahoo! must have thought our drafts were pretty lopsided since they predicted four teams to go 10-3. It was looking like a pretty top-heavy field heading into 2015.
MUSSELMAN: I have to admit it was nice beating Sergeant Major in week one.
CLIBURN: He was the defending champ and was the top NCO on the SECFOR mission. I think everyone was gunning for him in 2015.
MUSSELMAN: Definitely. 2014 wasn't a great year for the Apes, but 2015 was starting out pretty good.
ROE: It wasn't a good start for me though. The Rebels' first season in the OIL started with a huge loss to Fitz.
REED: I knew going in that I was facing two of the top teams in the first two weeks: Vultures and Steel Reign. I was lucky to get out 1-1.
PFC Weeks 1-2
STRAILY: The only thing that could have made the draft day better was finding out Yahoo! projected us to finish number one.
BRAKE: But the Brawlers knocked you off right off the bat!
STRAILY: We brushed it off though with a big win in week two.
CLIBURN: Mitchell's Nightmares were lucky to start 2-0 after averaging just 124.77 points per game to start the season.
MITCHELL: Hey, a win's a win, right?
CLIBURN: And 2-0 is 2-0. There was still plenty of time to build your roster, too.
Reality Check: 0-2
Two weeks into the season, Cliburn let the 0-2 teams know how tough a row they had to hoe:
CLIBURN: At the time, I was talking as much to myself as I was anyone else. In the NFC, Finch, Morgan, and myself were 0-2. In the AFC, it was defending champion Venable, Peacock, and newbie Roe. In the PFC, it was McKay, Cordes, and Baldwin.
Bringing Back the Podcast
CLIBURN: I was happy to start up the podcast again, this time under the moniker The OIL Hour. A lot had changed since we first did the Dead Ball Foul Show in 2011 though. Rather than using BlogTalkRadio, we used Google's Hangouts On-Air feature . . . with mixed results.
DUFFY: The Google Hangout has a lot of potential, but we were still working out the kinks up until the final week of the season. Still, I was happy to block off some time each week to discuss the OIL with my battle buddies.
LEAL: I was more than excited to do the podcast. It was something that was on the schedule every week at my house. I felt like I was the wild card when came to analyzing upcoming matchups.
ZERGER: I enjoyed calling in from Amarillo every week.
CLIBURN: Maybe next season you won't eat potato chips while on the show, too.
LEAL: What was up with that, Z? It was SO LOUD.
OGLESBY: Cliburn invited me to sit in on the podcast, and I enjoyed it. It was clear that the OIL was going to be a lot of fun.
NFC Weeks 3-4
HENDERSON: Week three is when my team showed what it was capable of. Devonta Freeman, my ninth-round pick (thanks to Cliburn), took over the starting RB position in Atlanta and ripped off 42.3 points. We lost the next week to Rogers, but we still put up 146 points while Freeman showed no signs of slowing down.
PYLE: Week three, my team did decent considering Romo had nobody to throw to after Dez Bryant went down.
YANCY BALDWIN: That Dez injury killed my team. I was really counting on him.
PYLE: Indirectly, it hurt my squad too. But I felt a bit of relief after pulling out the win in week three. Week four, my team laid another egg and Romo went down. I was ready to just throw in the towel after this one. I'd had a relatively easy schedule up to this point as far as the points against, yet I was 2-2. I knew that my opponents would start lighting it up as the season progressed and my team wasted the opportunity to put some distance between us and our competitors for that first-round bye.
CLIBURN: It's always good to put that distance between you and the pack before the flurry of trades happen, too. Once those start, the league can change in a hurry.
PYLE: I thought this trade was ridiculous. Jimmy Graham wasn't playing like his usual self, but we all knew he'd snap out of it. Then Duffy traded Davante Adams for him.
TROVILLO: I was getting pretty tired of waiting on Graham, who I didn't want to draft in the first place. Adams started out the season well enough, so I cut bait on Graham.
DUFFY: I thought Adams would level off, and I gambled that Graham would find his role in the Seattle offense. This trade was a no-brainer for me.
CLIBURN: I'd been trying to trade Knile Davis to Henderson for a while. I was hoping his status as Jamaal Charles insurance would make him more valuable to Hendo, but he held firm and wouldn't give up much.
HENDERSON: I was getting pretty tired of Cliburn sending me trade offers involving Knile Davis. He wanted way too much!
CLIBURN: Then I gave up and asked for McKinnon, hoping I could parlay him into something from Finch (the Adrian Peterson owner).
COBB: The trade between Pyle and myself looks fair. I honestly don't recall which players I dealt and which ones I received. Bryant and Olsen are the major players. Gillmore was most likely thrown in for Beasley to sweeten the deal.
PYLE: I was still mad at myself for drafting Greg Olsen in the fourth round. Up to this point, Olsen had only had one good week (20+ points). Romo was hurt and his backup was inept, so Cole Beasley was very hit and miss. Gilmore had more fantasy points that Olsen at this point and Martavis Bryant was set to return in a couple of weeks. Plus my backup TE, Antonio Gates, was set to return soon. I felt that I would be getting a top 10 or 15 WR in Bryant once he returned in the flex spot. I had a feeling that Olsen would snap out of it and start producing more, but patience isn't my strongest trait. I was happy with this transaction at the time.
CLIBURN: This is my first instance of homerism. In the summer of 2015, I "came out" as a Saints fan. I always said I didn't have a favorite team, but I realized I'd always rooted for New Orleans. My father and grandfather rooted for them from their first season. My family was from the Gulf Coast, and I can't remember being happier after a Super Bowl than I was when the Saints defeated the Colts. Plus, New Orleans drafted one of my high school teammates, Jammal Brown, in the first round in 2005. So I accepted that I was a Saints fan, and then I traded away Maclin for Brandin Cooks when I maybe shouldn't have.
CLIBURN: Man, I felt bad about this trade just a few days later. I had wanted to draft Gronk, but he didn't make it to me. I was drafting for Schmidt and, when his pick was on the clock, Gronk was by far the best available. So I did the right thing and picked him for Dead Again.
SCHMIDT: I appreciated that, but I had some other holes on my team.
CLIBURN: So I traded him Jordan Reed and Steve Smith . . . who broke his back the next week. As good as Reed was in 2015, he wasn't worth a one-for-one trade for Rob Gronkowski.
SCHMIDT: Once Smith broke his back, I knew it just wasn't my year.
FINCH: My comeback began in week four. I added Gary Barnidge from free agency, and he ended up being a top-five TE.
CLIBURN: Rogers' team was looking pretty good. After four weeks, "they [were] who we thought they were," to quote Dennis Green.
TROVILLO: I felt pretty good after four weeks of play. I was the defending champion and was able to draft 2014 Hippies RB Le'Veon Bell first overall. He served a two-game suspension, but I still started out 3-1 . . .
CLIBURN: . . . whereas I didn't get my first win until week three, and I was 1-3 after week four. I hated that, but I wasn't going to panic just yet. After all, I still had Arian Foster coming back to save the day.
AFC Weeks 3-4
BROSH: I was counting on Foster, too.
CLIBURN: But you were able to draft him much later than I did. That allowed you to field a better team during his absence.
BROSH: I got lucky that no one else would take the risk on him. I started 3-1 with Foster still to return. There was no way I was finishing in 10th place again; that's for sure.
CLIBURN: The first trade in the AFC didn't occur until September 30, when Zerger and Roe exchanged players.
ZERGER: Vereen was a PPR monster in-waiting, and Martavis Bryant was set to come back from suspension soon. So I traded away Nate Washington and third-string Arizona RB David Johnson to Roe for them.
ROE: I was 1-2 and needed a spark. I couldn't afford to wait for Martavis any longer, and David Johnson was returning kicks and catching multiple passes a game. It was a leap of faith I had to make.
REED: Fantasy football at its finest. I put up 200+ points in week three but couldn't even break 100 one week later.
ROE: This is when I knew I made a good decision trading with Zerger. One week after acquiring David Johnson, he caught four passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. That was the spark I needed.
ZERGER: The trade didn't look as good for me after one week, but I knew that trade was about the long game. I was waiting for Bryant to come back.
CLIBURN: This is an example of me putting my nose where it doesn't necessarily belong. Neely didn't ask for advice, and I'm sure his AFC competitors didn't want me giving it.
ZERGER: Personally, I think if they want questions answered they should email you and it should be discussed on the weekly show or they could call in.
BRUESCH: I'm with Z. If someone asks, I don't see the problem. If you are just jumping in unsolicited, I can see where guys might not like that.
CLIBURN: I get it. I do. Sometimes I just can't help myself though. I see someone with holes in their lineup who has two top-tier QBs on his roster and I see how that strength could be used to better balance the league.
DUFFY: This doesn't bother me. The way I see it, if I ever manage to win this thing, I want to be able to say I was the best of the best. If people are new to fantasy football or unfamiliar with all the NFL players and need a little help here and there, then let's give it to them. It's no fun beating a punching bag; it's amazing to beat a boxer though. The older I get, the harder it gets to stay on top of everything. When I get that kind of advice, I always appreciate it. Let's face it though, we can help until we're blue in the face, but rarely does anyone actually follow good advice. It's harmless at a minimum. I'm for it. It's hard to swallow sometimes when my opponent is on the receiving end of that kind of help because I'm a sore loser. Being a sore loser doesn't justify NOT doing the right thing though.
YANCY BALDWIN: Honestly, I think it's fair. We all have friends that play. I would ask anyone in any of our leagues for advice or tips. That doesn't mean I'll take it; maybe I just needed a second opinion. I could go on and on but I don't think it gives anyone an advantage over anyone else.
ROE: I actually appreciated it. It was my first time playing fantasy football, and that advice helped me in the early part of the season.
PYLE: If he had directly asked for your input, I wouldn't have had an issue with it. I think we all turn to our own "sources" to gather as much knowledge, information, and insight as we possibly can find whether by way of internet articles, videos, podcasts, or friends and foes. I personally think your record speaks for itself and for the most part your fantasy football knowledge has be recognized. But I can see where Neely is coming from (we were all "newbies" once too) as we thought we had a pretty good grasp of what we were doing (I drafted Peyton Manning with the fifth overall pick in the inaugural season).
NEELY: I'm actually in favor. If nothing else, it'll probably keep me from trying to get a broke-ass player like Jody Nelson again.
PFC Week 3
DUFFY: I couldn't believe Gray's Drifters were doing so well. It looked like he was the darkhorse in the PFC.
BRAKE: I was sweating that week three matchup. Winning by .35 is too close for comfort. I know it's not the record, but it was certainly the narrowest margin of victory to that point in the season.
CLIBURN: Just be glad you won. Two teams failed to even hit triple-digits that week . . . but only one of them did so because he made no lineup changes: Hudson's Combovers.
At 1-2, Without Logging In At All, Hudson is Replaced
CLIBURN: After only three weeks of the newest OIL conference, a tough decision had to be made. I didn't like it, but that's why they pay me and Goodell the big bucks: to make tough decisions. Hudson was one of the first guys to say he wanted to be a part of the OIL's newest conference. So I was surprised when he didn't log in the first three weeks. I'd text him, emailed him, called and left voicemails, but I never got an answer. So, a change had to be made.
CLIBURN: That's when I remembered Stephen Pennington. He was in the 158 and deployed with the unit twice. He was also a three-year veteran of the MGL, whose scoring settings were exactly the same as ours. I text him and he agreed to take over the fledgling Combovers franchise.
PENNINGTON: Put simply, I joined the OIL because I was invited. Any time I am invited to compete in a league, I invariably accept. The way I see it, there are only two reasons someone would invite me into a league: either they want to show me they are better than me, in which case I must join to prove them wrong; or they believe I am a strong player who will add competition to the league, in which case I must join to prove them right. To be more specific in the case of the OIL, I joined because I love fantasy football, I love tradition, and the OIL is the place where fantasy football and tradition intersect. And, although I may not always enjoy being in the 158, I have always enjoyed the camaraderie of all those I have served with.
CLIBURN: What was your fantasy football experience prior to the OIL?
PENNINGTON: I started playing fantasy football in 2008 in a random league while mobilizing to Iraq on my first deployment. I did not do very well and did not really have the time or resources needed to put forth a good effort, but I had my first taste and knew I would try it again. I tried a couple more random leagues on different platforms and settings in 2009 and 2010, but it wasn't until 2011 that I got really into it. That was the year I did what most fantasy football degenerates end up doing at some point in their career: I joined way too many leagues. I wanted to try it all, so I was in leagues on every site I could find and all different league settings. So, with no MGL in 2015, I was happy to take a position in the OIL PFC, even though I didn't get to take over my team until week four of the season.
CLIBURN: What would you have done differently had you managed the team from the get-go?
PENNINGTON: Let's just say I would not have drafted three TEs and five QBs and definitely not where they were taken. My favorite pick was Le'Veon Bell in round one, but I ended up losing him for the season after he injured his knee in week eight.
CLIBURN: What was the significance of changing the name?
PENNINGTON: I chose to rebrand the young franchise the FDC Chiefs. It just fit, especially with everyone in this league being a part of (or familiar with) MLRS/HIMARS. When I took over the team, it was pretty bad. But I was glad to be part of the OIL. I wanted my team name to be something no one else had and I wanted it to reflect what I do in the 158. I chose the FDC Chiefs because it fulfilled both of those requirements and I thought it would be a fun spin on the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs.
PFC Week 4
DUFFY: I think the surprise of the early season in the PFC was Gray. His Drifters 3-1 and had blown out a couple teams.
GRAY: I was learning on the fly and just doing the best I could in my first season.
CLIBURN: The Vandals had a problem. They had two top QBs but could only start one. Meanwhile, they had a very weak RB corps. So I messaged Oglesby and told him Gomez needed a QB and had RBs to spare. That's how this trade happened.
OGLESBY: No, we didn't. That isn't a "problem" in the classical sense. It was an asset. But I appreciated the suggestion regardless. Justin's passion for the game impressed me, and he is someone I trust to give me advice. It was my first year playing fantasy, and I needed that "second set of eyes" while I learned the game.
NFC Weeks 5-6
PYLE: Week five I had to go pick up my towel before it got soaked by Duffy's tears! ". . . sooooo, YOU'RE SAYIN' THERE'S A CHANCE!," was the thought that crossed my mind after that win. I was feeling pretty good about my team again. And I left points on the bench to boot. There were other reasons why this win was so satisfying though:
First, I broke the 200-point threshold which is a pretty good indication of a successful week;
Secondly, Duffy is constantly talking as though he is the ultimate fantasy football expert, despite the fact that very little in the OIL record book supports that. And he completely discounted my draft on the bus ride home from the stadium.
CLIBURN: You held a grudge based on his post-draft assessment of your team?
PYLE: Of course I did! No one bad-mouths my team but me. But that wasn't the only grudge I held either.
DUFFY: Hold on. Yes, I am confident, but I don't consider myself an expert. And I didn't discount Pyle's draft, but I did throw some names out there for him during the draft because I had the Football Guys Draft Dominator app working, and I believe in a competitive league.
PYLE: I've been using that app for going on three years. Duffy wasn't giving me any advice I didn't already have.
DUFFY: Whatever. Baldwin benefited from it on the other side of me and he didn't complain about it.
PYLE: Looking back, I suppose it could kind of be considered back door advice. Whatever Duffy said or suggested, I did the opposite. Seriously though, we are all competitive, and if another manager is going to verbally spout off their "knowledge," or their thoughts on a particular player or situation, I will listen. I NEVER leaned over and asked Duffy what he thought about this player or that player however. And then I was pissed because Duffy threw me under the bus in front of the Yahoo! cameras (by calling me the crybaby of the league).
CLIBURN: It's too bad there wasn't time in that video for them to fully flesh out what he was saying . . .
PYLE: What was there to flesh out? He said I was a crybaby. But week five added to his season long meltdown (crying) rather than mine. So, yeah, this win was good, but I also knew it was a marathon and not a sprint (since I've led the league in scoring before and still missed the playoffs).
DUFFY: Okay, I did throw Pyle under the bus in my Yahoo! interview. But I told it how it was, and I thought I did it with tact. The thing is, I get Pyle, because we're both sore losers. I also am glad he won, because he's a good guy, a brother at arms, and unlike others in the league, Pyle has exhibited a coherent understanding of the NFL and never laid a complete turd as long as he's been in the league. I hate losing. I loved my draft and expected my patience would reward me with a turnaround. No such luck, though, and Pyle and Cobb basically gave me the final shove toward the worst season I've ever had in the OIL since I've known what I was doing. If I'm not mistaken, I even made a desperate attempt at a comeback by trading Pyle and arming him with the final weapons that led him to the playoffs.
LEAL: This trade worked out good for both us if I remember right. It gave me that handcuff in Williams and I turned around and traded Adams to Duffy for a WR that worked out.
TROVILLO: I was sure that DGB was going to end up being the go-to receiver in Tennessee. Mike Wallace was coming off of a 60+ catch year in Miami, and I figured he just needed to get in sync with Bridgewater. Karlos was having a big year, but I needed WRs in the worst way.
PYLE: Charcandrick West was a superb add for Lucky Enuf in free agency. He was getting more playing time, and I had a good feeling about him. Then I pulled out a victory in week six with West still in my hip pocket. I was happy to secure another victory as each one is precious. I felt pretty good about my team at this point in the season.
FINCH: I was finally starting to turn it around after giving up on Peyton. Since starting 0-2, I was 4-0 and things were looking up.
CLIBURN: Whereas I was seriously getting worried at this point. The season was just about midway over, and I was sitting at 2-4 with Leal, Trovillo, Henderson, Cobb, Finch, and archrival Duffy left to play. Then things got tougher when Cobb traded Alshon Jeffery to Finch.
FINCH: When I saw Clyburn drafted Peyton Manning I thought about quitting again. Just kidding. I really didn't know Peyton was gonna suck as bad as he did coming out of the gate. But he damn sure did. Awful. After my 0-2 start, I quit starting him. Then I looked for ways to trade him away for something, anything.
CLIBURN: I remember Finch sending me a voice memo that said ♫ inter-ceptions suck so bad ♫ to the tune of the Peyton Manning Nationwide commercial.
FINCH: He was killing me, and I thought it was time to cut my losses and get what I could for him. After all, Peyton Manning was still a big name. A lot of folks thought he'd snap out of it. I was prepared to get what I could for him and move on with Brian Hoyer and Jameis Winston at QB.
CLIBURN: The trade was not popular. Duffy was the most vocal about it though.
DUFFY: I thought either Cobb was helping out Finch or Cobb's unrelenting man-crush on Peyton had blinded him to how bad he was in 2015. It was a horrible trade.
COBB: I would like make clear why it wasn't a bad trade. Man-crush on Peyton Manning aside, I needed a QB and on Peyton's worst day he wins the Super Bowl. Alshon had been questionable week after week, so he was doing me no good on the bench.
DUFFY: When I saw it, I wanted to scream "collusion!" but it didn't even make sense in that respect. A player with upside for a washed up QB that may have won a Super Bowl on the back of one of the best defenses ever, which translated to almost no fantasy points. Alshon was injury-riddled, but we never know to what extent and even injured the guy played and scored points.
COBB: Listen, Duffy sent me multiple offers for Alshon, but you all know the way he trades. He offers three or four awful players that won't touch the field in exchange for my Pro Bowl guy. That might work on a child, but I'm aware that quality is more important than quantity in fantasy football. Finch sent me a fair one for one deal, I accepted. Duffy did not get the receiver he felt entitled to, and the rest of us moved on. But then Duffy went complaining to the commish about not getting his receiver. When that was brought to my attention, I quickly reminded him who was in last place and was one of the only original members to never win the trophy.
DUFFY: That's not what happened. Generally speaking, I think people should be able to trade at will. I'm in leagues with keepers, and leagues where you can trade draft picks, so I someone flakes out, they can try to maximize what little they have and invest it toward the next season. The OIL is not like that. This trade was, and still is, bullshit, and I text all that to Cliburn at the time.
CLIBURN: I thought Duffy's tirade was funny, but I also thought he made some good points and Cobb needed to hear them. So I sent them to Cobb to have him defend himself. Instead, he went on the offensive.
COBB: I was heated at the time. I mostly didn't like Duffy putting his nose in it. He was 1-6, so who was he to criticize my management? There weren't any long lasting hard feelings though. If I spent as much time on a league as Duffy does and continually came in last place, I'd be pissed, too. And I'd also find ways to blame others for my own misfortune.
DUFFY: I get accused of offering bullshit trades every year, but this flies? I don't have a championship, and I had a terrible start in this league while I learned the inner workings of fantasy sports, but in my era of knowing what I'm doing, I've been competitive with the exception of last year, and nobody saw that coming. Even the Commish gave my draft an A. Everyone can fuck right off. This trade was stupid.
More Trade Disputes
But it wasn't long before more trade drama rattled the league.
DUFFY: I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw this trade come through. I'd never seen a more bullshit trade in my life.
CLIBURN: It was clear Morgan was trying to help his buddy, so I sent him a link reminding him what collusion is:
Collusion and Team Stacking
CLIBURN: What really surprised me though was how honest Morgan was about it:
CLIBURN: Morgan tried to sneak one last trade by the following week, but it was too tainted by his earlier collusion to pass muster. Leal wasn't entirely blameless in this either. It takes two to tango, and he knew what was happening.
LEAL: Hey, you never know unless you ask. I usually send pretty one-sided trade proposals knowing that I'll get a ridiculous counteroffer. Eventually, we might come to a compromise. But Morgan accepted the trades, so who was I to complain?
AFC Weeks 5-6
REED: I loved beating Venable in week six. He was the defending champ and I was coming off two-straight losses. It looked like the Sawtooths still had a chance.
PFC Weeks 5-6
BUEHRE: The hits kept on coming in weeks five and six. I was just wondering what would happen next.
Injuries . . . Injuries would happen next.
Key RB Injuries Alter the Course of the Season
MITCHELL: This was a big blow. Charles was my number-one overall pick and had scored five TDs in the first four weeks of the season. I remember looking at what was available and it seemed like nothing. I had to watch the waiver wire week to week to see if somebody on bye was being dropped. It's tough when you lose somebody you can count on for 15-20 points each week.
GREEN: Well, my initial thought was "again!?" It seemed like this happened three years in a row. But then I pulled my shit together and reminded myself that I had a few decent backup running backs available. Todd Gurley was an unexpected star for me after he came back from his ACL tear. So he picked up the slack when Jamaal Charles limped off.
HENDERSON: It wasn't as bad for me because Cliburn had drafted Mark Ingram, Devonta Freeman, and David Johnson for me. Those three were doing really well. Losing Charles certainly didn't help, but it wasn't as catastrophic as it could have been.
PYLE: You always hate to see someone suffer an injury like that . . . but you don't hate it as much when you pick up his clear handcuff one week before the injury.
NYE: Le'Veon going down pretty much wrecked my season in the AFC.
TROVILLO: I'll second that, although I had first priority on the waiver wire in the NFC. So I was able to get DeAngelo Williams before anyone else did. Still, it wasn't the same as having Bell, I had to burn my waiver priority, and I had no other insurance on the roster in case something happened to Williams.
CLIBURN: Over in the PFC, it was Pennington's team that was devastated by the injury.
PENNINGTON: Bell was the one draft pick I liked when I took over the team. Then he went down. I was making waiver claims every week trying to remake the team, so I didn't have the waiver priority to land DeAngelo Williams as his replacement, either.
CLIBURN: The Vandals had the number-one waiver priority, so they're the ones who lucked into picking up Williams.
CLIBURN: This is when I knew my season was over. My first-round pick (Jeremy Hill) was playing nothing like his rookie season. My second-round pick (Randall Cobb) was showing he couldn't be a WR1 in Jordy Nelson's absence. And I burned a third-round pick on Foster because I thought the risk/reward of him playing like an RB1 with only a third-round price tag was worth it. So, when he tore his Achilles, I knew my first three picks were busts and I wasn't going to get out of my slump anytime soon.
BROSH: I was pissed. He was going to be what put me over the top, I thought.
BUEHRE: I was scrambling to find a replacement, but no one was going to produce what I thought I'd get from Foster. He had just returned and was putting up big point totals. Plus, I had Eddie Lacy, who was supposed to be a top-three RB (depending on whose list you followed). He was battling injuries himself and, when healthy, was not producing like a first-round RB. I drafted quality RBs all around, but none ended up producing with any kind of consistency. So I had a feeling I was doomed when I lost Foster.
CLIBURN: And the first few weeks of the season showed there wasn't a true handcuff to Foster. There wasn't a "next man up" RB to go pick up. It was just an RB1 gone without a replacement. Nothing to that point led us to believe Alfred Blue or Chris Polk would even approach Foster's production.
NFC Weeks 7-8
CLIBURN: After week seven, it was clear who got the better end of the Finch/Cobb trade. Finch throttled Cobb by over 100 points.
PYLE: I've got a pretty good feel for my squad at this point, and my initial draft thoughts were being validated. I remember coming across a random article talking about Jeremy Langford and how the Bears absolutely loved him and how he was going to start taking some of the load off of Forte, so I had him on radar and was looking most of the season to improve my RB position. I believe week seven was the downfall of my season.
DUFFY: I thought this was an opportunity to completely revamp my lineup before it was too late.
PYLE: What can I say? I was trying to hit a six-run homer on one swing. In my mind, Andy Dalton, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Allen Robinson, Matt Forte, Justin Forsett, Gio Bernard, and Antonio Gates was a very enticing lineup. Sure I was depleting all of my depth, but I was ready to go all-in and win this league. I wanted that third trophy bad. Looking back, and even at the time of the trade, I knew the risk. I knew that every player on my roster would have to stay healthy from here on out to even have a chance. In the 10-year history of the OIL, not once, not even a single time, have I received a legitimate trade offer from Duffy. Now, out of nowhere he proposes to me the opportunity to secure a top-five WR and a top-five RB in addition to a strong squad. The temptation and desire for the trophy were too much for me, so I accepted the trade and spent the next nine weeks watching the proverbial rope unravel.
LEAL: This was about the fairest thing we could do at the time.
MORGAN: It seemed like Sammy Watkins was always hurt, so maybe Woods could be the WR1 in Buffalo. Matthews was consistent but he didn't have a high ceiling.
MORGAN: Brees was nursing an injury and not playing well, so I traded for Andrew Luck . . . hoping he also would get it back together.
JESSEN: I was so tired of waiting on Luck to play like a top-10 QB. I was hoping Spiller and Edelman could turn my team's fortune around.
LEAL: My team was doing really well with Brady at QB. But LeSean McCoy was injured, so I thought Vereen could complete my lineup.
DUFFY: . . . and things came around full-circle as I got Davante Adams back.
COBB: I needed a RB and Alfred Blue was actually getting the lion's share of carries after Arian Foster's injury.
YANCY BALDWIN: I'd drafted Sam Bradford and Colin Kaepernick as my QBs. By this time, both were nursing injuries, so I was more than happy to get Russell Wilson as an every-week starter . . . especially for the low price of weekly disappointment Alfred Blue.
Whackers' Stunning Personnel Move
CLIBURN: Morgan, what were you thinking here?
MORGAN: The three weeks before this, Brees went for 26.65, 21.8, and 16.35 points . . . and he was nursing an injury. I had two other QBs on my roster, and I thought Brees was done. I had Philip Rivers, who went for 28.25, 37.15, and 30.8 points the previous three weeks. Derek Carr was coming off a 32.75-point game. And Miles Austin had just been made a starter in Philly.
CLIBURN: Finch was more than happy to scoop him up, too.
FINCH: I couldn't pass up this opportunity. Even if he sucked, I'd have given up next to nothing to land him. But he was a former fantasy MVP, so I had to give it a shot.
CLIBURN: This completed an all-time best roster move by Finch. First, he recognized how bad Peyton was and how he wasn't getting any better. Then he realized a lot of people still thought of him as PFM. So he traded away Peyton for a starter at WR. In the meantime, Morgan thinks Brees is done like Peyton. But he doesn't gauge interest in people trading for Brees and just drops him, thinking he won't be able to get anything. Finch views Brees differently and scoops him up. In the end, Finch traded a horrible Peyton Manning for Alshon Jeffery and Drew Brees. And it wouldn't be long before we all learned Morgan was wrong about Brees.
MORGAN: Of course Brees threw for seven touchdowns the very next week after I traded him. That was just my luck in 2015. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
FINCH: Brees just needed a change of scenery is all.
ZERGER: I couldn't believe he scored over 60 fantasy points.
CLIBURN: That was an OIL record, beating out Michael Vick's 2010 performance against Washington.
PENNINGTON: If the Chiefs were going to make some noise, we needed that Drew Brees to show up more.
BRUESCH: No one knew it at the time, but this may have been the pickup of the season.
PYLE: It was a great add and one I wish I'd made. And you didn't give up anything of value to get him.
CLIBURN: Between Doug Baldwin and Ted Ginn, Bruesch significantly upgraded his team at little to no cost to him (e.g. not trading away good players). That gave his team a lot of depth that would help him down the line.
LEAL: Man, I whipped the pants off the Commish week eight!
CLIBURN: That was not an accomplishment at this point. It was increasingly becoming a recurring theme as bad draft-day decisions and injuries torpedoed my season week after week.
PYLE: I was ecstatic after knocking off the AMMODOGS. Rogers had a good team and this one was projected to be close.
CLIBURN: Meanwhile, Morgan and Cobb failed to hit triple-digits and Bruesch was just hitting his stride.
DUFFY: And my nightmare season continued.
JESSEN: From this point on, the season was painful. It was obvious I wouldn't be making the playoffs, and the season seemed to go by incredibly slowly.
PYLE: The end of week eight is when my trade with Duffy came back to bite me. I got Matt Forte, but I gave up Charcandrick West, Danny Woodhead, Martavis Bryant, and Emmanuel Sanders.
DUFFY: It wasn't like that trade was doing me a whole lot of good either though.
PYLE: But, because of bye weeks and such, I didn't pick up Jeremy Langford as Matt Forte's handcuff.
CLIBURN: Instead it was Finch with another killer free agency move.
PYLE: So Finch picks up Langford, and Forte immediately gets injured. I pretty much screwed myself for the rest of the year. I should never have traded all that for Julio and Forte, but I got greedy. I gave up extremely valuable depth for a past prized horse.
FINCH: I had my eyes on Langford for a while, too. In this league, you can't sleep on guys. If you have a hunch on a guy, you need to add him before he gets his chance.
AFC Weeks 7-8
ZERGER: With Bryant back from suspension, the trade with Roe was finally helping me.
ROE: It was working out for me, too. Things were looking up for the Rebs!
PFC Weeks 7-8
CLIBURN: The upset of the season was probably in week seven when Buehre's Dirty Dogs beat the top-ranked Enforcers.
BUEHRE: I can't say I saw that one coming. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
STRAILY: That's just how fantasy football is though.
OGLESBY: And the Vandals tied an OIL record with smallest margin of victory with a 0.10-point victory over the Brawlers.
NFC Weeks 9-10
CLIBURN: Morgan did not exhibit the Warrior Ethos in 2015. After his bullshit trades were vetoed, he seemed to throw in the towel.
PYLE: Yep, and I screwed myself pretty good too. Injuries, byes, and zero depth . . . I'm not very smart.
DUFFY: Even when I had a good week, it seemed I was being run out of the building. Seriously, look at my schedule. Guys were routinely putting up over 200 points on me.
CLIBURN: And I was right behind you, getting blown out left and right.
PYLE: Rinse and repeat in week 10. Lucky Enuf lays another dud, this time to Bruesch who I tied in the 2008 OIL Bowl.
CLIBURN: At least you broke triple-digits. Jessen, Cobb, and Schmidt each scored less than 94 points.
DUFFY: I finally broke my losing streak against Morgan this week, and that prevented me from setting the record for longest losing streak.
CLIBURN: Thank the Lord for small miracles.
AFC Weeks 9-10
VENABLE: After Le'Veon Bell went down, I had the number-one waiver priority. So I put in my claim for DeAngelo Williams and waited.
CLIBURN: This was probably the pick-up of the year in the AFC. D-Will came out and played like a top-five RB to pair with Venable's six above-average WRs.
REED: We all knew Schuster and Hillier was gonna get beat.
CLIBURN: Interestingly, Schuster started out his OIL career 6-1. Since then, he's gone 5-14 (4-11 at this point in the season).
SCHUSTER: I don't even have a smart-ass reply to this. I seem to start strong and then my teams go to shit midseason.
PFC Weeks 9-10
STRAILY: The Enforcers were blowing teams out and looking like the number-one team Yahoo! had predicted them to be.
BUEHRE: But my Dirty Dogs were still horrible. It was a long season for them.
NFC Weeks 11-12
AFC Weeks 11-12
REED: After losing to Musselman in week 11, I was 5-6 and had to win out to have a chance at making the playoffs. I was able to knock off Green in week 12, setting up a win-and-in Rivalry Week matchup in week 13.
CLIBURN: Week 12 wasn't so kind to the Rebels, though.
ROE: I'd started out 0-3 but gone 7-1 the next eight weeks. Then I played the defending champ in Sergeant Major and got trounced 215.55-98.30.
VENABLE: My season started out shaky, but my WRs stepped up, Rashad Jennings started playing well, and late-season pickup DeAngelo Williams played like he was Le'Veon Bell.
PFC Weeks 11-12
BRAKE: Week 12 made it five wins in a row for the Brawlers! With just one week to go in the season, it looked like we were on a roll.
STRAILY: All my momentum seemed to fall apart in weeks 11 and 12. For two straight weeks, we didn't crack 86 points. Things weren't looking good.
NFC Week 13: Rivalry Week
2015 marked the fifth season of the NFC's Rivalry Week. With 10 years of matchups, some teams were starting to pull away from their rivals in terms of overall head-to-head record (in parentheses under the matchup title).
#10 Arrogant Americans (4-8) at #13 Hangovers (2-10)
QB: Cam Newton
WR: Antonio Brown
WR: Julio Jones
WR: Brandon Marshall
RB: Devonta Freeman
RB: Adrian Peterson
TE: Rob Gronkowski
W/T: Odell Beckham, Jr.
W/R: DeAndre Hopkins
K: Stephen Gostkowski
D/ST: Denver Broncos
31.09 points per game
24.92 points per game
23.44 points per game
21.20 points per game
21.09 points per game
16.29 points per game
17.05 points per game
21.37 points per game
20.69 points per game
10.68 points per game
11.18 points per game
All Decade Team
Ask The Arbitrator
Buffalo Wild Wings
Games Of The Week
Rest In Peace