The NFL is a garbage fire of an institution. Do we still love it? Of course. But there are many, many issues surrounding the league and its players. Player issues can impact how we as fans enjoy the games and justify our support for respective teams/individuals.
The real question becomes: Can you still enjoy fantasy football while acknowledging the fact that there are some bad dudes in the league? We’re here to help you put together the least morally reprehensible fantasy football team. We cannot be held responsible for how competitive these teams will actually be. But you’ll have the moral high ground, which is important in our hearts.
There is some personal bias at play here, since Andy Dalton’s charity directly benefitted from the Bills’ playoff appearance in 2017. The charity, called the Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation, received a record number of donations from Bills fans, leading Dalton to take out billboards across Buffalo wishing the Bills good luck in the playoffs. Wait, is this just a way for me to backdoor brag about Bills fans being good? Whoops. As far as I can tell, Andy Dalton has no scandals under his belt, his conduct on the field is all above board, and he seems like a good dude. You can sleep at night with Dalton at the helm of your team.
While you might be concerned about Johnson’s injury issues on the field, keep in mind the adorable picture of him and his wife on the home page of their charity website:
This is objectively good. The Johnson Family’s Mission Foundation provides aid and experiences to seriously ill children, and has raised a lot of money and support for this cause. Johnson’s been in the news over the years for how much good he does through the foundation, donating electronics, supplies, and other support.
Derrick Henry loves his grandmother, and I love this about him. He promised her that he’d get his college degree so he could do something beyond football, and he did! I’m not crying, you’re crying. Just this year, he also gave teachers gift cards to buy school supplies. He’s also involved with the Special Olympics and other organizations around Tennessee. Good stuff!
Again, you’re in luck. Julio Jones is a very good wide receiver. He also doesn’t have the offseason drama we’ve seen in Antonio Brown. No domestic abuse allegations, no drug controversies, nothing beyond being a professional, on and off the field. Looking for something more than the bare minimum to put him in the plus column? Jones has also spoken up about social justice and shows up for charity events across the league. Julio is good to go.
DeAndre Hopkins’ life has been punctuated by tragedy. Despite this, Hopkins has founded his own charitable foundation focused on the issue of illiteracy, assists his teammates with their outreach, and donated his playoff bonus to the family of Jazmine Barnes, who was killed in a Houston convenience store shooting. While Hopkins got up to some less-than-polite hotel shenanigans in his youth, he’s since more than made up for it in his charitable efforts.
Mr. Julie Johnston has no blemishes on his record. He’s a huge supporter of women’s athletics, especially the World Cup-winning U.S. Women’s National Team, which includes his badass wife as a starter. Ertz proposed to Julie at the same baseball stadium where they first met, so he’s a romantic. Gotta love that. Besides, he is a very talented tight end. You’re safe with Ertz.
This pick is not 100 percent motivated by the Lizzo lyric. Okay, maybe it is, but only a little. The Minnesota Vikings Foundation focuses on activity, sport, and wellness in Minnesota youth, and is specifically tailored to Minnesota kids’ needs. They also boast a food truck program, providing meals to in-need families.
Anthony Harris contributes to Minnesota’s One Love Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating the public about healthy relationships and preventing abuse. Anthony Barr also started the “Raise the Barr” Foundation, which helps in-need students complete secondary education. When I asked a reliable Vikings fan if any of the Minnesota defense was problematic, she did cite a couple of individuals/incidents, but overall said the Vikes are “an upstanding bunch.” I think that’s the best you’re going to do in the NFL these days. Skol!
Justin Tucker is a talented operatic singer, and his cause of choice is the arts in schools, which is admirable and extremely important for the soul of America. I might be editorializing here, but it’s fine. He works with the Baltimore School for the Arts, and has sung in and won charity competitions. Sing away, Justin!
Tom Brady will always be associated with deflating rumors and reputational dark arts, but when we get down to facts, Tom Brady is a major advocate for Best Buddies. He has raised tens of millions of dollars for the organization that works with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Brady hosts an annual celebrity football game, which is a much less sexy of a headline than the erroneous, redacted reports that a football was less inflated than it was supposed to be.
Also, people forget this because of the stupid MAGA hat, but Tom Brady did not go to the White House last year, after he won his sixth Super Bowl. Sorry, Erin.
Last year, before a playoff game against in Baltimore, Gordon got into a cab (God bless him since Maryland drivers are the worst) and did the old fashioned thing where he actually talked to the driver. The driver, a Ravens fan, didn’t recognize Gordon, which was clear from his smack-talk about the Chargers players. Gordon entertained the conversation, asking questions and keeping his identity a secret, instead of antagonizing the man. Then, upon introducing himself, he took pics, signed autographs, and went on his way. It was a genuinely cathartic moment.
Retirement is merely a state of mind to Lynch, who has already come back from one stint off the field. Lynch is a must start because he’ll run through a wall for a good cause, like its a defender bearing down on him in the open field. Lynch has a foundation for disenfranchised youth in his hometown Oakland, hosting after school programs to introduce kids to professional fields to which they may not otherwise have access.
Normally I would never pick a Steeler on my fantasy team because they are the Maryland drivers of the NFL! But JJSS apparently hasn’t been around Ben Roethlisberger enough yet to become a horrific human. JJSS, a kid at heart, spends his time working with kids. Last year he hosted a public water balloon fight! Do you know how much work it is to fill and tie that many water balloons and then share them with others? That’s at least one of the two miracles requisite for sainthood.
Kenny Stills isn’t a good guy because he is the only NFL player still taking a knee during the national anthem. Stills is a good guy because he speaks up for what he believes in, which includes calling out his team’s former owner for hosting a political fundraiser for Donald Trump. But what makes Stills a great guy is his work to promote LGBTQ equality, his summer spent driving through the country in a 1970s VW van helping grass-roots community groups gain publicity, and getting every former Dolphins teammate registered to vote.
Off the field, Trey Burton spreads his efforts throughout the Chicago area, donating money and time to organizations helping to end slavery and trafficking and funding cancer research. Burton also works with and after school outreach program, teaching core values to kids who lack adult role models.
The Texans’ defense is completely epitomized by sackmaster JJ Watt, and when JJ Watt isn’t razing opposing quarterbacks, he is raising communities. After Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston (and much more), Watt help raise over $41 million in relief. The stats for where that money has gone are somehow even more impressive than his sack numbers.
Here’s the scene: Elliott, a rookie kicker for the Eagles, is lining up for a 61-yard field goal to beat the Giants in his second game ever. Carson Wentz, the team’s quarterback, who happens to be mic’ed up for the game, promises he’ll give his game check ($31,000) to Elliott if he hits the kick. Elliott drills the kick, wins the game, and takes the Wentz money and donates it to charity, even though it would have been 15 percent of his salary that year.
Can you continue to justify watching a league that censors its players, contributes to their traumatic brain injuries, does not punish them adequately for committing domestic abuse, excessively punishes them for medical marijuana use, and overall contributes to a culture of violence?
If so, who are you drafting for your fantasy team? Are there any morally-motivated “do not draft” players? And why are the Bills definitely winning the Super Bowl this year? Let us know on Twitter.