While I rarely agree with anything ESPN's Bill Simmons says, he did raise an interesting point about Monday night's Cowboys-Eagles game. After all, it was only the most watched cable event ... ever.
Again, it was an extraordinary game. But it wasn't more dramatic or memorable than Baltimore blowing its chance to end New England's undefeated season on a Monday night last December, right? The more I thought about it, I decided the fantasy subplots propelled the Philly-Dallas game to its record numbers. That had to be it.
There were a ton of subplots going in that game. The Eagles and Cowboys may be the NFC's two best teams. Both are fierce NFC East rivals. And there is that whole Terrell Owens-Donovan McNabb thing.
Those all contributed to great numbers of viewers. But fantasy football also brought in a ton of others.
In that game, you had Terrell Owens, Tony Romo, Brian Westbrook, Jason Witten and Marion Barber ... who are all elite fantasy performers. You also had Donovan McNabb who is no slouch himself. Some owners had Patrick Crayton, Desean Jackson, Hank Baskett, Felix Jones, David Akers or Nick Folk. And that doesn't even mention the two defenses who, depsite giving up a lot of points, scored some too.
I know in my top league, I was trailing my game with Westbrook playing on Monday. Another guy was down with T.O. and Crayton going but his opponent still had Folk. Yet another guy was trailing with McNabb playing. And yet another trailed with Romo. All of us were down big heading into that game ... yet we all watched furiously to see which one of those guys gets the points.
Many people had a fantasy stake in this game.
Now no one can argue the impact fantasy football has had on the NFL. We all know fantasy football means more eyes on games we usually didn't feel the need to watch. That isn't up for debate.
The debate is on how it shapes the impact of what we saw. I went to work Tuesday morning and everyone was saying it was the greatest football game they've seen in quite some time. No it wasn't. Was it greater than the Broncos-Chargers game the day before? Or even that ugly Colts comeback over the Vikings? No.
It was so great because many of us had something actually invested in that game. When Desean Jackson prematurely celebrated ... that cost his owners a TD and McNabb's owners a TD. Consequently, Westbrook owners were elated when he got the ball and scored the touchdown instead.
Remember Westbrook? He was the guy that fell to one knee instead of scoring a sure TD during last year's meeting between the two teams. It was a smart move for the Eagles ... but a potential killer for Westbrook's fantasy owners. People still pine over that play even though it had no real meaning in the actual game.