DAYTON, MAINE, Maine — Can you hear the theme music?
After more than 200 days, the National Football League's regular season returns Thursday night. While millions of Americans watch the Los Angeles Rams and Buffalo Bills, millions more will follow every pass and catch on their phones.
Fantasy Football has evolved into a multibillion-dollar industry over the years, but one group of Mainers has kept it pretty simple.
“The rules have pretty much been the same," Steve Sicard said from the draft deck.
Sicard, his brother David, Tom Gonnville, Tom Charron, Rob Faucher, Scott Jalbert, Jon Stewart, Greg Paradis, Steve Gonneville, Scott Fleurant, Jacob Jalbert, and Noah Jalbert all make up the Dayton Fantasy Football League.
The league first drafted in 1991. For context, Joe Montana and Warren Moon were two of the top quarterbacks in the NFL that season and Whitney Houston sang the National Anthem before Super Bowl XXV.
“I would handwrite all the weekly reports, let everyone know who scored, who didn’t, who won, who didn’t," Gonneville said. “And I had to mail some [results] to other guys in college, so the mailing, they wouldn’t get them for another two days.”
Let's remember, in 1991 there was no texting, direct messaging, or smartphone apps that could handle the management aspect of the league.
Sometimes, Mrs. Gonneville happened to be the one to pick up the phone. That didn't stop the then teenagers, now adults, from making their decisions on who to play week after week.
In 2022, it takes only a few seconds to rub it in that you beat your buddy in a fantasy matchup. But Charron said back in the early days, they'd have to call each other's home phone number and hope they answered.
“We’ve been doing this for a long time," he added.
The standard scoring format has remained a constant over the years. The league only counts points for touchdowns, field goals, and extra points. While things have changed around football and the world, the bond between this group has only grown over the last 31 NFL seasons.
“We’ve seen each other’s kids grow up," Faucher said.
"After all this time, we’re more of a family you know going through all kinds of things," Gonneville said. "Like medical issues — one of the guys we used to play with has since passed away. Just life has been involved in our fantasy league over the 31 years."
Of course, the league has a trophy and there are plenty of spaces for future winners' names to be carved into history. Luckily, the new generation of fantasy players is up for the task.
“I’m a father to one set of brothers [in the league], so the next generation has now been introduced to the league," Jalbert said.
A lot has changed since 1991, and that's true for this group. They started playing fantasy as high school buddies. Now, their families will be connected for generations to come.