Sunday, September 06, 2009
By Dennis B. Roddy, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Steve Mellon/Post-Gazette
Nick Krow, of Nashville, Tenn., gets pumped before the start of yesterday's fantasy football draft.

The 2009 NFL draft got underway yesterday inside the fevered imaginations of 10 guys from Nashville who locked themselves in a hotel meeting room Downtown and proved a Super Bowl win can bring a city some very weird tourist dollars
The Ten Little Indians Fantasy Football League, a collection of old high school classmates from Tennessee, set up shop at the Doubletree-Pittsburgh City Center hotel this weekend. As vacations go for guys in their 20s, it's a rare one: luggage included laptop computers, player rosters and dress suits.
If you're going to act like an NFL owner, then dress like one, they explained.
Danny Krow, a salesman now living in Plano, Texas, said the 7-year old league decided two years ago to shift its draft to whatever city currently holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
"We really didn't think it would happen," he said. "Then we went to New York and had a good time and we're going to continue doing it from now on."
It costs each member a few thousand bucks in hotel and air fare and some vacation days. Still, he allowed, it's cheaper than doing it in the putative home cities of the fantasy teams.
Some players picked towns such as Jackson, Tenn., and Lumberton, N.C. Yeah, they could probably drive there. Then there was Danny's brother Nick. His team is the Chernobyl Chariots.
"Chernobyl? A disappearing city? It'd be kind of tough going there," said Danny Krow.
Likewise for the Athens Fighting Muses. George Green, a law student from Nashville, named that team for the city in Greece, not the one in Georgia.
Yesterday's draft was no minor affair. A service cart of ice water and coffee was wheeled into the Board Room at the Doubletree. A staff member was hectored into running broadband Internet lines to the room so picks could be posted. A large chart with preprinted name stickers hung on the wall to track the developing league.
And Kevin Hartley, the proud, if slightly delusional owner of the Lawyers of Lumberton, prepared for his first-round pick by informing fellow owners: "Just make your checks out to K-E-V ... " He hadn't fully spelled out his name before the hooting commenced. In seven years, Mr. Hartley has won once.
Owners in this league included two law students, a few salesmen, one accountant, two college students and a sportscaster living in Lexington, Ky. That last one would be Brent Carney, owner of the Bluegrass Bandits. Asked if he was any good at this sort of thing, he shot back a look that suggested the Mason-Dixon Line wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Proceedings began late as owners scrambled for Internet service. There was another glitch: the fantasy commissioner didn't show up. Danny Krow couldn't bring himself to ask a friend to fly here simply to read off selections.
During a Friday-night-turned-Saturday-morning on the town, the team owners bumped into a few locals and were inspired -- quite unrealistically.
"I actually asked them if they could get Mike Tomlin here to call out picks for us. Apparently he's busy. I think it would have been worth his time," Mr. Krow said. The Steelers head coach might have been a crazy notion, but it would have lent a bit of gravitas to Saturday.
The guys couldn't resist adding middle names to make their picks sound more majestic. They were untroubled by the fact that they didn't know the players' middle names.
Hence, when Mr. Green went to the lectern to announce the QB pick for the Athens Fighting Muses, out came "Tony Algernon Romo."
Mr. Krow's Plano Punishment Inc. chose "Brett Fav-ree."
Mr. Green responded with "Ryan LaGarrett Grant." The selection of suspended Oregon running back LaGarrett Blount, if only as a middle name, raised a few eyebrows. "The only time he's gonna hear his name at a draft," ventured one owner.
Other selections included "Braylon Latoya Edwards."
The draft was methodical, merry and slow. Like the real draft, it took a few hours. Unlike the real draft, next year's venue is up in the air.
"We're thinking Boston next year," Mr. Krow said. "I assume the Patriots are going to win it."
Or New York. Someday, he said, they'll convene in Radio City Music Hall, where another, less burlesque, NFL draft is held.

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