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10 Yards

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After watching their documentary 10 MPH two years ago, I developed a mild man-crush on filmmakers Josh Caldwell and Hunter Weeks. The pair set my imagination ablaze as they ditched corporate cubicles and trekked cross-country aboard a two-wheeled Segway. Last I'd heard, the duo was off constructing their sophomore effort--a second documentary--this time about fantasy football. It's a topic with which I happen to be intimately familiar. So when I realized it had already come to DVD at the same time that my two fantasy football leagues--one with co-workers, one with friends--had just drafted, the disc immediately became a must-see.

Fantasy football consists of assembling 12-or-so obsessed football fans who pretend to field teams of NFL football stars that accumulate points based on performance from week to week. Most people play for bragging rights or money; the filmmakers' league payout is Twinkies. Whatever anyone's motivation to participate, this virtual sport becomes a huge time-waster, encouraging an unhealthy obsession with statistics. Personally, I love every second of it. Clearly so do an estimated 20 million Americans who play--among them Caldwell and Weeks, who cataloged their 2007 fantasy season.

In 10 Yards: Fantasy Football, video diaries of three "team owners" recorded during the 16-week season are spliced with interviews of fantasy football pioneers and NFL players. Several subplots emerge as their league's commissioner--a post held by the team owner administering the league--battles his annual urge to retire, and Caldwell's father experiences health issues.

The history of fantasy competition is fascinating and offers a twisted tale even sports un-thusiasts can enjoy. The problems I have with this film, however, don't stem from the topics included, but those left out.

In 10 MPH, the boys beautifully wove together personal tales with footage of their Segway shenanigans. But this time, the back stories aren't quite as smoothly integrated, and, sadly, there's no "post-game analysis." Viewers never get a final update on Caldwell's dad's health, for example. The NFL players interviewed were has-beens (or never weres). If you're making a film about folks who pretend to own football stars, you should get input from actual football stars.

The duo's second go-round covered a less poignant topic, so viewers' emotional involvement isn't there this time. But what they lack in dramatic presentation, they make up for by being charismatic everymen. I just wished they lived in Boise. With the way my teams are playing this year, I'd be well on my way to a box of Twinkies.

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