During the football season, I work seven days a week. That's not a complaint or a brag, it's just a fact.
Look, I'm incredibly thankful that fantasy football has grown so popular that there is actually seven days a week of work to do around it, and that I'm one of the people who gets to do it. All that said, it keeps me very busy and away from my family during football season. I am writing this sentence after midnight, Wednesday morning. There's a daily podcast show meeting in about 8 hours, and clearly this column isn't done yet.
The reason I tell you all this is that, because of my schedule, in previous years I have tried to prewrite some of the opening stories for the column. I love writing them, especially the personal ones, but to do them right, they take a lot of time that is often hard to come by in-season. So in previous years I have taken some time in the summer and prewritten a bunch that are more evergreen and can run whenever. For a variety of reasons, I didn't do that this summer.
As you might be aware, I have five kids, including twin daughters, Brooke and Samantha, who recently turned 10. One day this summer, Samantha asked me why she hasn't seen me writing anything yet. Not wanting to get into it, I just brushed it off, saying I just hadn't started yet.
Samantha: But you need to write them for your job, right?
Me: Yes, of course. And I will. I've just been really busy.
Samantha (suddenly concerned): But what if you don't have time?
Me: I'll figure it out, sweetie. It's Daddy's job to deal with it. Don't worry.
But telling Samantha not to worry about something never works. She scrunches up her little then-9-year-old face, thinking. Finally, an idea hits her.
Samantha: What if I write it for you?
And my heart just melts into a million pieces.
Me: That's very sweet of you to offer, but I promise you I'll be fine, OK? Go play with your sister.
And she nods and runs off. That night, she walks up and hands me a piece of paper.
Me: What's this?
Samantha: Your column. Now you don't have to write.
I look down. And I'll be damned. She has, in fact, written a column. About, of all things, Ryan Fitzpatrick. She doesn't totally understand my job, but she knows I write and talk about fantasy football and she knows that I'm a huge Washington fan and that a few weeks earlier I had been really excited when my team signed Fitz-Magic to a deal.
And as I am glancing at this piece of paper, which she wrote as carefully as she could, I see there are facts in it. Like, she did research. And then sat down to write it. Probably took her all day. On a beautiful summer day when she could have been outside with her sister and neighborhood friends.
And my heart melts all over again.
Did you know today (Nov. 24) is Ryan Fitzpatrick's birthday? Well, you're about to. Because, without further ado, I present, almost exactly as written, today's Love/Hate column open.
Written by Samantha Berry.
Hello everyone reading this column that's published by my amazing dad, Matthew Berry. My dad works very hard so that my family can have everything we have now. Sometimes he works all day on something. I am very lucky to have him.
Today I am writing a column about Ryan Joseph Fitzpatrick from Washington. He's the quarterback on his team and it's his first year. He played college football at Harvard, where he was the school's first quarterback to have over 1,000 rushing yards and was selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL draft.
Some fun facts about him are that he was born on November 24th, 1982 and he is currently 38 years old, his height is 6 ft 2 in and he is a part of my Dad's favorite team. His career history is very interesting so I am going to be sharing it with you. St. Louis Rams 2005-2006, Cincinnati Bengals 2007-2008, Buffalo Bills 2009-2012, Tennessee Titans 2013, Houston Texans 2014, New York Jets 2015-2016, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2017-2018, Miami Dolphins 2019-2020, Washington Football Team 2021-current.
Thanks, Samantha. Great job. And happy birthday, Fitzy! There's less magic in the NFL without you. Hurry back.
You know, Thanksgiving is a time to count your blessings. I am so incredibly thankful for all of you who have read Love/Hate, now or anytime in the past 21 years. If you've ever listened to the Fantasy Focus podcast, streamed The Fantasy Show with Matthew Berry, watched Fantasy Football Now, checked out my rankings, followed me on social media, gone to a live event or engaged with me in any way, shape or form, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
I am not here without you, and I am incredibly blessed to be so. I know this, I feel this and I don't get a chance to say it nearly often enough.
I am also so thankful for my friends and colleagues here at ESPN, way too many to mention all by name, who help make all my content much better than it has any right to be. Between all the shows I do and the content I am a part of, it is literally hundreds of names. But just for Love/Hate I want to thank my editors, Pierre Becquey and Keith Lipscomb, plus the entire ESPN copy desk and, of course, The Fantasy Show's producer, Damian Dabrowski. I am not an easy edit, but they do it with grace and aplomb. In addition, "Thirsty" Kyle Soppe and the current Stat-a-pillar from The Fantasy Show, Kevin Pulsifer, have both chipped in when needed at various points this year. So a thank you to them as well.
But most of all I am thankful for my family, who love and support me and yes, even write me a column open I can use on a short holiday week.
Let's get to it.