Philadelphia Eagles

Brian Westbrook’s decision to go down is still reverberating though the world of fantasy

Fantasy football participants across the globe still remember the exact feelings that rushed throughout their body during the final moments of last season’s matchup between the Eagles and the Cowboys in Week 15. Well, let’s rephrase that. Fantasy football participants across the globe who either owned Brian Westbrook or played against Brian Westbrook still remember the exact feelings that rushed throughout their body during the final moments of last season’s matchup between the Eagles and the Cowboys in Week 15. Unfortunately for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Westbrook was starting for him that week.

Larry Fitzgerald spoke for millions (thousands, anyway) of people in the NFL world when he told Philadelphia running back Brian Westbrook at the 2008 Pro Bowl, “You ruined my fantasy football team.”

The Cardinals’ receiver was one of many people on the wrong side of the NFL’s version of “The Play.” It was fantasy’s answer to Jim Marshall running the wrong way, or Don Beebe chasing down Leon Lett to strip him of a sure touchdown in Super Bowl XXVII. If fantasy football ever had a “Where were you?” moment, this was it. But what was it?

Late in the fourth quarter of a week-15 game at Dallas, with Philadelphia leading by four points, Westbrook took a handoff and broke through the Cowboys’ defense. It looked like a certain 25-yard touchdown run. The score would have given the Eagles a 17-6 lead, but the Cowboys would get the ball back. However, if Westbrook didn’t cross the plane of the goal line, it would simply give the Eagles a first down and the ability to run out the clock (the Cowboys having already spent their time outs). As fantasy fans began to rejoice (early) with this late score, Eagles fans watched in delight as Westbrook simply fell down on the 1-yard line. His thoughtful, heady, unselfish play let the Eagles run out the clock, and Philadelphia defeated its longtime rivals, 10-6.

Westbrook’s fantasy owners, however, wept.

A play like that, at any point of the season, would normally be cause for great discussion — who is this guy playing for, me or the Eagles? But because it came in week 15 — a playoff week in many fantasy football leagues — it was monumental. …

Westbrook was a star for his owners in 2007. He led the NFL with 2,104 yards from scrimmage and scored 12 touchdowns. But he has been portrayed as a villain by many fantasy owners for his play. Here’s a secret, though: He wasn’t the mastermind behind the fantasy and real-life game-changer. Eagles tackle Jon Runyan was the one who suggested that Westbrook lie down to eat up more clock. Figure that — an offensive lineman, normally far away from the football, coming up with the most selfless play imaginable to win a game. On the replay, Runyan can even be seen chasing Westbrook down the field instructing him to hit the turf.

“Maybe I wasn’t on his [fantasy] team,” Westbrook joked. “But no, that’s just Jon. He’s always coming up with stuff like that. He’s a smart guy. He told me that if I break the play [through the defense], I need to go down at the one.”

Listen, Brian, we’re sorry about all that hate mail we’ve been sending you over the last several months, but that play cost us our shot at our league’s postseason. So, if you don’t mind, could you please forward all our letters to Runyan, we’d appreciate it. Hopefully, you haven’t opened any of it yet; especially the package without a return address.


[]: Westbrook’s heady play was a fantasy stunner

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