The dust has now settled on the 2017 NFL season, and the Philadelphia Eagles reign supreme. The NFL’s final game until August also brings an end to fantasy football; and with it, it closes a slam dunk quarter for divorce lawyers everywhere.
William Wolverton IV, an esteemed divorce attorney from Ohio, sits across from me at Rolo’s Steakhouse in an exorbitantly priced suit. He’s agreed to speak to me about a sharp uptick in fantasy-fueled marital separations since the beginning of the decade. Wolverton, whose legal buddies both predictably and annoyingly call “The Wolf,” cuts his prime rib with the same vigor he attacks invalid prenups.
He starts off by explaining the rapidly changing cycle of divorce filings: “For years, the legal community nicknamed January ‘Divorce Month,’ but that’s no longer the case,” says Wolverton. “The largest onslaught of divorce filings now occurs between October and December. Once the stress from regular season fantasy leagues reaches a fever pitch.”
The youthful lawyer stuffs too much steak into his mouth and continues, “Normally, couples with kids would wait until after the holidays – hence the old January Divorce Month thing – but now everything revolves around fantasy football. Giving the kids one final, happy period no longer enters the equation because the schism runs too deep.”
He’s kind enough to share a few high profile cases from the previous year. Jason Kirby, famously superstitious amongst his circle of friends, started his season 0-1. He shortly developed a vicious case of Man Flu and missed three days of work. His wife, Sarah Kirby, noted in legal documents that Jason was conspicuously healthy enough to make a crucial Deshaun Watson pick up before week two’s Thursday night contest. Kirby rebounded to 1-1, connected the dots to skipping three work days a week, and eventually took home the fantasy crown with a miraculous 15-1 record. Unfortunately, he lost his job by October and his marriage by November. Jason’s $250 winnings did not prove enough to cover legal fees.
Jim White, pictured below, is the coach, general manager, owner, and founder of the Golden Tate Warriors. He finished dead last with a 2-14 record in 2016 and became subject to penalty by the rest of his keeper league. His peers demanded he either trade Ezekiel Elliott or attend church dressed as Tinkerbell for the entire 2017 regular season. Jim White normally enjoys mass alongside his wife, three kids, and ex-marine father-in-law. Jim White chose the Tinkerbell punishment. His wife filed for divorce in mid-October. The dissolution of White’s marriage shattered his emotional psyche. He suffered an epic collapse to finish 12th for a second consecutive year. For punishment, White will attend his divorce proceedings wearing a handpicked rotation of grossly undersized Vanilla Ice t-shirts.
Bob Harper’s wheeling and dealing eventually cost him his marriage. Wolverton mentions he’s one of the rare cases that bled into January. Unable to recognize a sinking ship when he was on one, Harper spent more and more hours completing add/drops and trade requests from the bathroom. He missed dance recitals, entire dinners, and tucking kids into beds… only to finish 9th out of 10. Harper initially appeared to save his rocky marriage by promising his wife Wanda the living room addition she always wanted. Sadly, Harper became engrossed with DraftKings’ NFL postseason games and opted to expand off the bathroom instead. Wanda hurled a plunger at him on her way out the door. Harper now spends his days on a porcelain megathrone of regret.
Jasmine Berry, the last of Wolverton’s tragic clients, is a modern day Susan B. Anthony. She fought for years to gain entrance into her husband Jerry’s selective league. Jasmine, who took flak for selecting Tom Brady with the second overall pick, first noticed tensions when she did not immediately flame out. Her relationship with Jerry hit rock bottom once he snuck into the playoffs as a 6th seed and she earned a first round bye. He filed divorce papers 17 minutes after she obliterated him in the semifinals. Jasmine went on to win the league. Jerry bizarrely cashed in a favor from his former leaguemate, a police sketch artist, in an attempt to bring criminal charges against Tom Brady. Nothing stuck.
I close the fascinating interview with Wolverton by asking what advice he would give fantasy players to avoid divorce in the future. He makes the valid point that too many good pointers might hurt his bottom line, but Wolverton eventually relents.
“Don’t ask your spouse for flex advice. That’s only gonna lead to resentment. Defense? I mean, maybe,” he muses. “That, and you need to recognize how deep wide receiver is after the first tier. You have no idea how many divorces started snowballing from the Zero RB draft strategy. I can’t stress that enough.”
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Body Photos: shutterstock.com and bostonglobe.com
Header Photo: Everything-Voluntary.com