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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.

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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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