29th Year of the TFL

The kick off the the 2012-2013 NFL season will mark the 29th year of the TFL or Toumi Football League. It’s official now that we have set a draft date for Las Vegas and renewed the league software. Surprisingly we have all the same owners returning, of which 4 are original members and 3 others who have been in the league for 25 years. It’s a great group of long time friends, with the addition of 3 newer owners when the league expanded to 10 teams.

As has become tradition, we hold our annual fantasy football draft in Las Vegas. Originally we started out at The Palms, where we had been the previous 10 years, but after one our owners took The Palms for about $25,000 one visit, they no longer welcomed our business they once did. Last year we moved to The Hard Rock Hotel, which is just a nice and more convenient to the Vegas Strip for those wanting see the sights.

The fantasy draft lasts the weekend, owners fly in on Friday and go home on Sunday. Friday afternoon means a poolside cabana, non-stop beer and food, while we lounge around waiting for all the owners to show up. It’s a time to catch up with long time friends, who in my case I saw last year at this time. During this time some might do a little bit of gambling, most prefer blackjack. Yet the don’t like when I sit at the table since I inevitably end up playing wrong and losing them money.

As the sun starts to set we vacate the cabana for our hotel rooms to clean up and get ready for dinner. While we no longer stay at The Palms, our traditional dinner at N9Nes Steakhouse. This restaurant has some of the best steak I had ever tasted, yet this year with my change in diet, I might find dinner a bit challenging. I am hoping for some sashimi for appetizer and a baked potato with steamed vegetables for dinner. No steak, I don’t want to take 2 steps backwards. After a round of drinks, we are seated and the fun begins. After drinks and during appetizers the “Pulling of The Ace” occurs. This is where we take playing cards numbered 2 through 9 and the ace. In reverse finishing order of last year we shuffle the playing cards and draw cards to determine where we will draft.

After dinner owners take up different activities. In years past (at The Palms) we were comped tickets for shows. Usually it’s to casino floor at The Hard Rock for some gambling, depending on your game of choice. I am hoping to play some blackjack this year, but will most likely end up watching the wheel spin at the roulette table. Craps is another game I am learning, but probably won’t play. As the night wears on some owners “hit the town” while others remain at the casino.

Saturday morning is usually a bit of a slow start, with some owners nursing a hangover. Breakfast is the first order of business, talk a little football and review notes and cheat sheets as it relates to the draft. About 10am we make our way poolside and to our cabana. What’s nice about our draft is that a majority of the cabana fees are offset by the fees we collected the previous year from the waiver wire. This year we have over $800 to help offset our cost.

As the commissioner I set up the board and we go over rules and possible changes to the upcoming season. Most of this information has been disseminated in the months leading up to the draft, but it’s common for very little discussion to take place. If we have a majority at the cabana on Friday, we might make change rules then as well. It was done last year to our waiver wire when 5 owners agreed to change the waiver wire and cap it at $200 per owner.

Once the board is set up it’s the responsibility of the Tidy Bowl Award Winner or “Beer Bitch” as the owner who came in last place, last season to man the draft board. Once the last minute details are worked out and any owners wanting to move draft positions (last year we had 4 owners swap) we start the draft.

The draft usually lasts 3-4 hours as we traditionally draft 18 rounds. This year we are decreasing that to 16 rounds, so it might speed things up by 30 minutes. Once the draft is over we start comparing teams and making predictions. This is also something I do on our league site, a complete preview of each team, their strengths, weaknesses and what their projected finish will be. I can’t say I have been all that accurate, but it’s a discussion point.

Unfortunately I have only stayed the weekend when we first adopted this tradition. Since getting married and having a son, I have made it an overnight trip for the last 8 years. Saturday afternoon is much like Friday after the conclusion of the draft, hanging out poolside in the cabana. There is a low key dinner at a local restaurant, followed by more gambling. It’s a great way to kick off our fantasy football season with a wonderful group of long time friends.