NFL fans have learned that the best fantasy-football experience is accompanied with weekly check-ins with the cast of The League. The FX-produced comedy show, which returns next month, focuses on a group of friends in the Chicagoland area who take fantasy football to a different level of competition, which calls for deep knowledge of NFL rosters, the use of well-thought out strategies and occasional collusion among members.
But the extra kick that The League gives fans is its ability to call on NFL players and personalities to make regular appearances. Sometimes players are brought in to be the culmination of a running joke, like Jerry Jones having to buy the domain name for DallasCowboys.com from Taco (Jon Lajoie). But other times they’re just there for us to help us have a good laugh.
Like co-creator Jeff Schaffer said, The League is a show about wish fulfillment — which means that the characters get to have way more personal interactions with the NFL’s best players than the average fan. So here’s a list of some of the best ones, so far.
When The League first started, it looked it was just going to be a show about a group of friends taking fantasy football way too seriously – which would’ve been fine, it was still hilarious. But then Pete set the lofty goal of looking to get insider tips form Terry Bradshaw on the status of a questionable LaDainian Tomlinson. And to much surprise, he actually got him on the phone.
Back in 2010, Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson’s football career was taking some pretty serious hits due to his off-field antics. But he was still in the limelight and one of the most recognizable players in the NFL. So his appearance on The League’s season two premiere was welcomed as he balanced out Andre’s wannabe cool with his own natural cool and proper use of his “Chile’ please!” catchphrase.
Maurice Jones-Drew, Brent Grimes and Sidney Rice (“The Shiva Bowl Shuffle”)
Thirty years later, “The Super Bowl Shuffle” is still legendary. So when Ruxin called back on that 1985 Bears team’s dominance of their opponents to show how his previous year was in the league, he came up with “The Shiva Bowl Shuffle” with appearances from Maurice Jones-Drew, Brent Grimes and Sidney Rice delivering some rap lyrics of their own.
Note: Being a native Chicagoan doesn’t alter my opinion of “The Super Bowl Shuffle.” It really is amazing.
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Andre’s a pretty well-off plastic surgeon, so he can afford a really nice apartment. Nice enough for Deion “Prime Time” Sanders to look into buying it off him. But when he came to check it out for himself, Neon Deion walked into an impromptu porn shoot being conducted by Rafi and Dirty Randy (Seth Rogen). If you ask me, he may have actually considered it for a second there.
Given that the characters in The League live in Chicago, it isn’t surprising that they would eventually get some Chicago Bears players in the mix. In season five, Kevin and Jenny realized that Jay and Kristin Cutler’s baby – referred to as “the cutlet” – was attending the same daycare as their own. From then on, they were on a mission to make it into the Cutlers’ inner circle.
The play calling at the end of Super Bowl XLIX is still up for debate. With the momentum, clock and field position all on their side, the Seattle Seahawks chose to pass instead of using one of the best running backs in the league on the one yard line. Calling on its history of making fun of actual NFL events, Marshawn Lynch appeared on season six of The League and took part in a hilarious conversation that paralleled that last call.
The League is responsible with coining a handful of terms that have become a part of the bro lexicon. For example “eskimo brothers” are two people that have – um, “ventured the same journey of love.” Pete found out that he was Adrian Peterson’s eskimo brother when he saw the Viking running back on a date with his brief ex-girlfriend.
Playing in a league as intense as the one on the show can be pretty stressful. As proof, it even resulted in Ruxin suffering from a stroke. To help make up for it, Taco and Andre came to visit him in the hospital with Chicago Bears running back, Matt Forte. Given that the show takes place in Chicago and Matt Forte is a fantasy football point machine, this meant a lot to Rux. At least until they left him in worse condition than they found him.
J.J. Watt’s one of the best defensive players in the NFL right now. And that’s not even including his ability to also play offense somehow. So it makes sense – for him, not anyone else with half a brain – that he’d choose the Houston Texans defense with the number-one overall draft pick. To think, this all happened because Ruxon quit the league and they had to find a temporary stand-in.
Reality check: We usually don’t know anything about NFL players outside of what we see on the field or in the media. So when Ruxon came at then-Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with his assumptions about his intelligence, he ended up being the one looking pretty dumb, disproving the theory that “to assume makes an ass out “u” and me.” This time Ruxon stood alone in his “assness.”
Antonio Gates was the first NFL player to actually make an appearance on The League and he made sure to answer the question we were all wondering. How do players respond to us getting pissed at them for fantasy football? The answer was displayed in him and Ruxin getting into a fight in a hot tub. Gates, members of the cast and The League‘s co-creators met with Larry King to talk more about what went into the scene.