ESPN: Love, Hate and An Extraordinary League of Ladies and Gentlemen
By Matthew Berry
"But," he said, laughing, "I haven't even asked the question yet."
"OK sure," I said. "Ask your question. But it doesn't matter what it is," I told him. "I'm in."
Because, you see, when Joe Russo asks me to do something, the answer is always yes.
He, along with his brother Anthony, has produced and directed many movies and TV shows you have enjoyed over the years. But the Russo Brothers are best-known for a number of superhero movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: "Captain America: The Winter Soldier," "Captain America: Civil War," "Avengers: Infinity War" and the highest-grossing movie of all time, "Avengers: Endgame."
Superheroes have been a huge part of Joe's life for a number of years. And, if you read my preseason Love/Hate or have caught any of Joe's appearances on Fantasy Football Now or the Fantasy Focus 06010 podcast, you know fantasy football has been as well. He has played for more than 20 years and is in four leagues this year.
And now he was on the phone with me, talking about a fifth. He had an idea.
What if there were another celebrity league?
But, he didn't want this to be "just another league." Even if it had insanely famous people in it.
"It's a fantasy league, of course, but with a twist," Joe explains. To be in the league, you have to have appeared in a superhero movie. The theme of superheroes means a great deal to Joe, obviously. Not just because of the success his movies have had on his career but more because of what they represent. Fighting for those who can't. Sacrificing personal needs for the greater good. Representing the best in us, of what we aspire and hope to be. Showing that the impossible can, in fact, be possible.
In short, making the world a better, kinder, safer place.
So without further ado, here's who is in the league, the charity they play for and their first-round pick, in draft order. Because I know not everyone who reads this column is a superhero movie fan, I have included the role each plays.
1. Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlet Witch). Elizabeth is playing for The Rape Foundation, and she didn't overthink it, taking consensus No. 1 Saquon Barkley.
2. Karen Gillan (Nebula). Karen is playing for Mickey's Line in Inverness, Scotland. She went with Ezekiel Elliott.
3. Anthony Mackie (Falcon). Anthony is playing for Stem NOLA, but he didn't let his NOLA roots keep him from taking Christian McCaffrey.
4 Chris Pratt (Star-Lord). Chris is playing for The Brain Treatment Foundation. He took Alvin Kamara, whom Mackie passed on.
5. Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool). Ryan is playing for SickKids Foundation of Canada. He took David Johnson.
6. Michael B. Jordan (Killmonger). Michael is playing for My Brother's Keeper, and he took the first wide receiver off the board, DeAndre Hopkins.
7. Miles Teller (Mr. Fantastic). Miles is playing for NAMI. He also went wide receiver, taking Michael Thomas.
8. Chris Evans (Captain America). Chris is playing for Christopher's Haven in Boston, and he picked Le'Veon Bell.
9. Tom Holland (Spider-Man). Tom is playing for The Brothers Trust. He took James Conner.
10. Chris Hemsworth (Thor). Chris is playing for The Australian Childhood Foundation. He went with JuJu Smith-Schuster.
11. Paul Rudd (Ant-Man). Paul is playing for Big Slick, Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. His pick, appropriately, was Patrick Mahomes.
12. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man). Robert is playing for Guy Aquino's Sacred Hearts intervention, counseling and treatment services for addiction. He picked Todd Gurley II.
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