10 Things I Learned About Football Fans — From Playing One On TV

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EmbedPhoto: Courtesy of Katie Aselton.
When Katie Aselton joined FX’s The League, she was clueless about her all-American, jersey-wearing, tomboy character, Jenny. But after six seasons of football shoptalk, a first-place win in the cast’s own fantasy league, and maybe just a little bit of help from Football for Dummies she hides in her bookshelf, she’s learned a thing or two about the game.

Aselton will be at MetLife Stadium this weekend cheering on the Denver Brocos alongside husband and fellow fan Mark Duplass, better known as Kevin on The League.

While packing for the coldest Super Bowl yet, Aselton and her younger daughter, Molly — who, at 21 months, declined to comment for this article, until spontaneously shouting “Go Denver!”— called to tell us everything she's learned about football, fans, and fantasy while being inducted into stadium life herself.

1. THE BEST FANS MAKE THE WORST FANTASY FOOTBALL PLAYERS.
“Because here’s the thing ‘experts’ do: They tinker their lineups to death. The cast has a league of our own. And while the executive producer and director of our show, Jeff Shaffer, is a football genius, he gets beaten almost every year. Truly loyal fans can’t go against their team — it’s sacrilegious for a huge Saints fan to pick Atlanta’s running back; you can’t do it. Plus, it’s not actually a numbers game. Someone can twist an ankle; someone can make a ridiculous catch; crazy things happen all the time. Sometimes, it’s better to not know what you’re doing!”

2. YOU DON’T HAVE TO LIKE FOOTBALL TO ENJOY FANTASY FOOTBALL.
“Back in the day I dated guys who played fantasy, and I secretly made fun of it behind their backs. I called it Dungeons and Dragons for jocks. But I had no idea what a fun, creative outlet it was for my competitive nature. You don’t even have to like football to do it; you have to want to win.”

3. FOOTBALL IS A FAMILY.
“A really dysfunctional one. They’ve got so much love and hold their teams to very high standards. When they do well, they’re so excited. When they do badly, they’re so disappointed. Steve [Rannazzisi] is like the father; he’s not angry; he’s just really disappointed — the really manipulative, break-your-heart kind of disappointed. That’s how he is with the Giants. He loves them, but they’re constantly letting him down. Jackie [Schaffer] and Jeff are huge Seattle fans, so they’re really proud parents right now but nervous that their kid is going to sh*t the bed — which they should be. Nick [Kroll], who plays Ruxin and Paul [Scheer], better known as Andre, are like competitive brothers. And I’m just like the cute sister. I’m just super happy to be invited to their party.”

4. FANTASY GURU IS POLITICO FOR NFL JUNKIES.
“Being a fan is more time consuming than I could have imagined. But as dorky as it is, it’s worth reading up pre-season to find out who those interesting sleepers are (Fantasy Football for Dummies coached her to triumph that first, glorious year). I was a focused student, and I won…which gave me all the validation in the world to not try again the next season. It is hard work.”

5. FOOTBALL FANS AND THE LEAGUE FANS HAVE A LOT IN COMMON.
“The great thing about being on a show like The League is that we get those same passionate football fans as fans of our show, and we get that same love. It’s very fervent — and it’s very loud... Just last night I’m going through the mail and find this very ornate, letter-pressed wedding invitation, but I look at the names, and I’m like, ‘Who the heck is that?’ I’m flipping through, and there’s a picture of a woman and me and Mark and Steve. Somehow this fan had tracked down our home address, printed out a picture of us, and invited us to her wedding. I have no recollection of even taking the picture. Can you imagine if I showed up? I should just go. I should go and be so inappropriate and like eat all the shrimp. Hopefully she’s reading this.”

6. ONCE YOU’RE HOOKED, YOU’RE HOOKED.
“We were in the middle of shooting. This was two years ago, and I picked up whoever Gore replaced on the 49ers. But we found out that he was injured right in between scenes. So as they’re getting the cameras rolling for the scene, I am on my phone under the table finding out who his backup is and getting him onto my team. It actually became part of the show — the scene starts and I’m on my phone, except I’m actually really picking up a real player.”

7. FANS ARE WOMEN MORE OFTEN THAN YOU’D THINK.
“There are way more female football fans and fantasy players than meets the eye. I will sit down with a studio exec and think that I’m going to be talking about some film project, and all she wants to talk about is football. They’re just super feminine and love football.

8. PRO PLAYERS ARE BIG SOFTIES.
"The show has had some high-profile pro guest stars like Matt Forté, Terry Bradshaw, and J.J. Watt of Houston fame. What nobody talks about — and I don’t know why—is that [J.J.] looks like Sully from Monsters, Inc. Physically, he’s the most intimidating human on the planet. But he’s the sweetest. I could have hung out with him all season long. Many of them are also shockingly good actors.

9. THERE ARE A FEW PEOPLE YOU DON’T WANT IN YOUR LEAGUE.
"First, the person who talks about their progress incessantly. Beyond just being annoying, they make you feel like you’re dropping the ball. Second, the photographic-memory player. How do they do that?! I’ll spend an hour looking at stats online, and I’m mostly just clicking back. Third, the really anal player. And lastly, the angry, sore loser. Stay away from those wackos, and you’re golden."

10. REAL FANS DON’T DUI (DRAFT UNDER THE INFLUENCE).
Do not draft someone just because they were an awesome guest star in The League. Do not draft Peyton [Manning] right after he broke his neck. Do not draft someone because you think they would be fun to hang out with or because you have Instagram pictures with them.”