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Originally published January 10, 2014 at 1:37 PM | Page modified January 10, 2014 at 4:39 PM

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Editorial Notebook: NFL playoffs provide a respite from fantasy madness

NFL playoffs are an antidote to fantasy-induced divided loyalties, writes editorial writer Eric Pryne.

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I’VE been playing fantasy football since 1983, when the game wasn’t yet an industry.

Information — whom to draft, whom to start, even whether your team had won — was hard to come by in those early years. There were no fantasy cable shows or websites.

I remember at least one pre-draft visit to the University of Washington library to wade through out-of-town newspapers in search of training-camp intelligence.

My fellow “coaches” and I didn’t often know if we’d won or lost on Sunday until we picked up the Monday paper. We used pencils or calculators to total weekly game scores.

Since those Dark Ages, fantasy football has blossomed into a multibillion-dollar industry. The NFL has adapted to it and reaped great financial rewards.

But I suspect fantasy’s popularity also has tempered traditional fandom — that all-out, nothing-else-matters commitment to the hometown team.

Fantasy complicates loyalties. The locals might lose, but a big fantasy win helps soften the blow.

I’ll confess to toggling between Seahawks and Broncos games on Sundays this fall to see how “my” quarterback, Peyton Manning, was faring.

I cheered when the Seahawks stuffed the St. Louis Rams two weeks ago — but did they have to shut down “my” running back, Zac Stacy, so completely in the process?

My fantasy league’s season ended with that final regular-season game (after going 13-1 my team collapsed in our playoffs). And with the last whistle came a curious sense of relief.

I could enjoy Indianapolis’ epic playoff comeback against Kansas City last weekend for what it was — great theater — without constantly checking the stats. And, for the first time since Labor Day, I don’t give a rip how many touchdown passes Peyton Manning throws this weekend.

The NFL playoffs are an antidote to fantasy-induced ambivalence, a return to a simpler time. Even for Seattle fantasy junkies, only one thing matters now:

A Seahawks win. Then another. And another.

Eric Pryne

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