Local fantasy league begins 27th year

Published 9:57 am Monday, September 12, 2016

PORT NECHES — Port Neches-Groves senior linebacker Logan LeJeune was obviously not born 26 years ago.
Neither was senior PNG baseball player Braxton Boudoin.
What was born 26 years ago was both of their fathers’ fantasy football league.
That’s right, in 1990 a group of eight guys started playing the now popular game that allows football fans to draft and own NFL stars.
Most people might not even realize the game of fantasy football was played that long ago. It started to take off in the late 1990s and now there are even shows on ESPN directed right at fantasy football.
“Bobby Chaisson worked for a law firm and the lawyers played it,” David LeJeune said. “That was in 1989 and Bobby brought it to us in the start of the 1990 season. We all didn’t know what it was but we were intriguied.”
So who was the first ever pick in this league’s history? Warren Moon is the answer and Mike Arnaud drafted him.
“I always seem to end up with New Orleans running backs,” Arnaud said. “When we first started it was a running back league. I’d say over the last 10 years it has changed to receivers and quarterbacks. I know we had one Super Bowl and the score was something like 13-10.”
One running back really stood out in the first draft of the league. LeJeune took Dallas Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith in the second round with the 12th pick. It seems odd to think about it until one realizes Smith was a rookie that season.
“Kids these days weren’t even born when Smith was a rookie,” Arnaud said with a laugh.
Smith went on to play for 15 years and rushed for a NFL record 18,355 yards. This league, known as the Indians Fantasy League, was around for the first year of his career and has gone on well past his retirement after the 2004 season.
These days there are hundreds, if not thousands, of guidebooks either in print or online to help players get information before the fantasy football draft.
“Back then there was one book called ‘Fantasy Football Index Book,’” LeJeune added. “We all had it. There was no Internet. We all used the ‘USA Today’ for our stats.”
Yes, when LeJeune and seven of his buddies starting playing fantasy football the Internet was not something you could easily jump on.
“I’m the elder of the group,” Glen Boudoin said. “My wife and I had the first baby of the group and now Grant is 24. He wasn’t even born when this league started. It’s really crazy.”
LeJeune himself now has two kids, Logan and Libbie, who are both star athletes at PNG.
“I was 19 when this league started,” LeJeune said. “I lived at home with my parents and was going to college at Lamar. I remember studying for our draft while waiting in line to get PNG football tickets. We never dreamed it would last this long. We all thought it would be a short fad.”
A short fad has turned into a lifelong competition among buddies.
“The main thing is we have all been friends for over 30 years,” Arnaud said. “It is rare for a group of guys to stay together for this long. We all now have families and careers. That aspect has been great. Oh, and getting to talk trash never gets old.”
Of course there is a discrepancy of who has won the most Super Bowls in the league named Indians Fantasy League.
LeJeune says he has won six Super Bowls, the most in the league. Arnaud said he and LeJeune are tied at six.
“It always seems to be between David and me,” Arnaud said.
Now the guys know fantasy football is not a true sport. However, they also know a lot of strategy and knowledge goes into each week’s decisions about which players to start and which players to sit.
“You have to have an element of strategy and also some luck,” Boudoin said. “Now with the RedZone Channel and the Internet, you can keep up with all teams. I don’t care a thing about Cleveland, but if I have its running back, I care about the Browns’ game. It broadens who you keep up with.”
This year will be no different for the eight guys of Indians Fantasy League. They have their players drafted and will be watching the games like the rest of us, but for them the start of something special happens for the 27th time.

Gabriel Pruett: 721-2436. Twitter: @PaNewsGabe

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About Gabriel Pruett

Gabriel Pruett has worked with both the Port Arthur News and Orange Leader since 2000. A majority of the time has been spent covering all aspects of Southeast Texas high school sports. Pruett's claim to fame is...being able to write his own biographical information for this website.

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