Tuesday, September 02, 2014 • 07:17
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I Kid You Not — Skittles, trash talk and what turned out to be a New Year's resolution


January 08, 2014
Sometimes, all it takes to get you going is an envelope full of Skittles.

Obviously, Skittles are delicious, and there have been points in my life in which I counted them as a part of my weekly fruit intake.

But in this instance, the envelope I'm talking about got me going because it reminded me of what's important: talking trash.

While my wife and I were visiting her family in Washington for Christmas, I learned that my wife's cousin, Kayli, had been conscripted into a fantasy football league with her brother, her dad, and bunch of other guys. Kayli does not follow football, doesn't really watch football, and had never played fantasy football before.

That didn't stop her from becoming a legend of trash talk, and subsequently one of my heroes.

Since she lives in the greater Seattle area, Kayli drafted Marshawn Lynch, the star running back of the Seahawks. Among the many delightful things about Lynch (take a minute to search for the video of Lynch in a local commercial for Beacon Plumbing—it's well worth your time) was a revelation from a few years ago that he keeps a bag of Skittles on the sideline during games for a little extra pick-me-up. Lynch initially told reporters to "ask my mama" for the full story, which at least one did. Lynch's mama would give him a handful of Skittles before Pop Warner games as his "power pellets" to help him run faster and play harder.

He continued the tradition all the way through high school, college and the NFL, and one has to imagine that he will never have to pay for a bag of Skittles again in his life.

So to egg on her fantasy football competition, Kayli started doing whatever she could to up the levels of trash talk. Before an impending head-to-head matchup, she sent an envelope full of Skittles to an opponent, and she even found a clandestine way to get the phone numbers of some of her brother's friends in the league to send them trash talk text messages. After a particularly close match in which she was the victor, she sent a sympathy card to the loser, complete with tissue and band-aids to help soothe the pain of the loss.

The piece de résistance, however, came when she enlisted her mother's help during the week when Kayli faced off against her dad. They secretly placed photos of Marshawn Lynch all throughout the house, including some placed in the pockets of his jeans, on the mirror in the bathroom, in the garage, on his desk, and in the place of some framed family photos. Some of the photos even had Kayli's head photoshopped onto Lynch's body.

The reason Kayli is one of my heroes, and why the envelope full of Skittles has awakened something inside me is that I realized how much fun fantasy football can be.

I just wrapped up my tenth consecutive season of fantasy football, and I won the league championship in one league, but missed the playoffs in the other two. I had a good time, as I always do, with the competition, especially against the friends who live nearby. But I also felt a little bit like it wasn't as fun as it used to be, like it was a nice thing to have around, but I wouldn't really miss it that much if it was gone. Something as simple as an envelope full of loose Skittles may seem silly, but it's a great reminder that what you put into something directly affects what you get out of it. Kayli had every reason to just coast through the season without paying attention to her team and fall back on the excuse that she didn't follow the NFL or really care much about fantasy football. Instead, she went out of her way to make it mean something beyond numbers on a computer screen, and it sounds like she had a blast.

I'm looking forward to next NFL season already because I want to invest in my fantasy football experience the way Kayli did. I want to be in one or two leagues with people I know so I can send sympathy cards, or secretly replace family photos with photos of NFL players, or leave repeated voicemails of NFL player interviews leading up to a matchup.

I think the key there is the word "invest." It doesn't have to be fantasy football, although it's a great place to start. They say that the wealthiest people are the ones who don't spend money, they invest it.

That doesn't just mean the stock market kind of investing; the people who end up with a lot of money are typically the ones who spend wisely.

The same is true of our time, our resources, and our attention. If we invest instead of spend, the things we do this year will most likely end up improving us in some way as well.

And if you need a pick-me-up to help you get going, I know of some power pellets you can get that will do the job nicely.

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