Those who think their fantasy football league is hard-core need to check out Spud Mann's new tattoo.
It's a sparkly-horned, red-maned unicorn leaping to kick a football over a rainbow. There's a little red heart on the unicorn's haunch. Beneath the fanciful scene, Mann's thigh reads, “FANTASY LOSER.”
“It's pretty epic, I'll tell you what,” said Mann, who earned the tattoo by finishing last in his fantasy football league.
The Omahan and his nine buddies in the league had made a pact. The last-place finisher had to acquire a tattoo of the league champion's choosing.
So, while other fantasy league losers were drowning their tears in beer and buffalo wing sauce, Mann hiked down to Grinn & Barrett Tattoo on Jan. 7 and hiked up his pants leg.
A deal is a deal.
“The most ironic part of this whole thing is it was my idea to do this,” Mann said with a laugh. “It kind of backfired.”
To understand how he could take this in such good humor, it helps to know a little bit about the man behind the unicorn.
Mann, 23, is studying for a master's degree in business administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He works as a fleet manager at Werner Enterprises.
“It's like air traffic control, only slower,” he said.
He graduated from Lincoln East High School, where he played soccer, was kicker on the football team and swam. Mann later swam for Morningside College.
His given name is Evan. But he has gone by Spud since infancy.
“When I was 9 months old, I was 30 pounds and bald,” he said. “So I was a big old potato-looking kid.”
He pitched the loser tattoo idea to his buddies last summer. The collection of high school and college buddies is highly competitive. They watch up to eight NFL games at a time in split-screen mode on the huge-screen TV in Mann's basement to see how many points the players they chose for their fantasy teams would score for them.
“We take it pretty seriously,” he said.
But the risk of a goofy tattoo would make Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays even more fun. Mann drew up a contract. He had a lawyer friend look it over.
“It's probably not legally enforceable, but it looks like a real contract,” Mann said.
All the guys in the league had to sign the tattoo clause. They also agreed to another Mann idea, a “loser tournament.”
Near the end of the regular season, while the top fantasy league teams were competing for the championship, the bottom four competed for the tattoo.
Mann was in seventh place going into the tournament. He figured he was safe. He had averaged about 90 points a week, a decent pace. His opponent had averaged 67 points.
But he still wasn't worried. His next opponent had averaged only about 70 points a game. And Mann had such proven point-producers as Houston quarterback Matt Schaub and Pittsburgh running back Rashard Mendenhall in his lineup.
“The kid I was playing for the tattoo was about to have a heart attack,” Mann said. “But he put up 140 points on me.”
Turn out the lights. The Tattoo Bowl is over.
Meanwhile, Mann's roommate, David Filsinger, won the championship. That earned him the right to choose Mann's tattoo.
Nine or 10 guys walked into Grinn & Barrett the afternoon of Jan. 7. They had a sketch of the tattoo they wanted. Though they were laughing the whole time, it was clear to tattoo artist Erik Anderson that they were serious.
“I don't know about when they made the bet, but when they came in here, they were sober,” Anderson said. “They made me laugh through the whole thing. ... That guy is a good sport. They had a deal, if you lost, you had to stick with it. Word is bond.”
Anderson said the tattoo is real. Mann could wear it his whole life, and he's planning to. As for explaining it to a potential future wife, he said, “If a unicorn on my leg is a reason you wouldn't want to be around me, there's probably other problems.”
That's not to say there are absolutely no regrets. He wishes he would have had Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick on his team.
“For the rest of my life,” Mann said, “I'm going to look down at the tattoo and say, I should've drafted Vick.”
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