The Onion, Lenovo Lampoon Fantasy Football Bros in ‘Tough Season’

By Erik Oster 

“For some people, fantasy football feels real. For others it is real.” So claims Tough Season, The Onion’s new fantasy football series, developed in cooperation with DigitasLBI and Lenovo. Most of us, I think, know someone for whom this is true. Someone who loses sleep over the draft, and talks about NFL players as “my guys.” Someone like Tough Season’s Brad Blevins. Brad takes fantasy football way too seriously, despite the fact that his team, Brad’s Awesome Team, never wins his league. But he’s convinced, of course, that this season will be different.

Brad’s creepy rival Harris is focused on humiliating him, but Brad is intent on avoiding “The Watermelon Dance” (You really have to watch to see this one, I won’t give it away) at all costs. As the owner of three consecutive championships, Huge Giant Robots is the team to beat, with their mysterious owner Mr. Z. keeping his identity a secret. Episode one of the show flashed back to last season, with Brad’s tearful goodbye to Matt Forte and end-of-season humiliation. Episode two focuses on the draft.

Adversity strikes early as Brad is chosen to draft last, and by the time it’s his turn to pick all of “his guys” are gone. With the 12th pick of the NFAA draft he selects Matt Forte, and with the 13th pick Alfred Morris. He also picks Larry Fitzgerald. Part of the humor of the series comes from the appearance of real NFL talent, acting excited to be a part of Brad’s Awesome Team. Of course, The Onion’s usual top-notch writing is also on display here.

Thankfully, the partnership with Lenovo is far from heavy-handed. While their product is featured, it never calls attention to itself, and it’s pretty easy to tune out their involvement. Whether or not that’s good for Lenovo is debatable (I think just having their name attached to this is a good move), but it’s definitely good for the series.

The series will include ongoing social media engagement, in the form of tweets and Facebook posts from members of Brad’s Awesome Team: Chicago Bears RB Matt Forte, Washington Redskins RB Alfred Morris, Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck, Arizona Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, and K Mason Crosby. This one has a lot of potential (the first two episodes already have their share of laughs) and is well worth keeping an eye on this season, as six more episodes are in the works. You can also keep up with Brad’s Awesome Team through Twitter, by following @BradMBlevins.