For the past seven weeks, one of my fantasy football teams did not have a name. Last week, I finally decided it was time for a cheesy, punny one, not because most everyone else had one, but because my love and obsession for a certain player on the Cincinnati Bengals squad had grown too great to ignore.
That is how Team Sanu Dawn, Sanu Dey was born (Note: The Dey is intentional, a riff on the Cincy’ “Who Dey?” cheer).
Wide receiver Mohamed Sanu began this season with the Bengals as a third stringer who was expected to get more looks while Marvin Jones, the breakout wide receiver from last season, recovered from an appendectomy. In the preseason Bengals games, I saw that Sanu was getting a lot of looks from quarterback Andy Dalton. He even threw a touchdown at one point. While I tend to get most of my fantasy advice from Brett Collson, my fantasy sensei, I decided to pick him up off the waiver wire without consulting him first (unfortunately dropping Ronnie Hillman, which at the time made sense, but now is a bit frustrating). So why did I get so invested in a wide receiver that was clearly second fiddle to one of the best receivers in the game, AJ Green? The answer is pretty simple. I don’t ever like the #1 receiver. It’s too easy.
Prior to Sanu, my favorite Bengal receiver was not OchoCinco or AJ. It was TJ Houshmandzadeh, who, like Sanu, had to work his way from third receiver to the starting line-up, but once he got there, he proved to be quite the powerhouse for several years. The beauty of the #2 receiver is they can catch you by surprise. You know AJ Green is getting double teamed cause he is an incredible talent. Meanwhile, Sanu can line-up on the other side of the field, get open and make a remarkable catch of his own. That is why Sanu’s numbers dropped a bit two weeks ago in that tie against Carolina—he wasn’t the distraction, he was the featured show. But when Sanu gets to surprise, amazing things can happen. Like gingers not named Jimmy Graham catching touchdowns:
My love for Sanu is not unlike my love for the Bengals. While they are geographically my team, there is something nice about rooting for the non-obvious choice (says the girl who roots for the most obvious college sports teams imaginable, I realize). I would love the Bengals to win the Super Bowl, or heck, even a playoff game, something which hasn’t happened since I was six-years-old. Still though, there is something character building about sticking with a team that doesn’t always succeed. I want nothing more than my nephews to adopt my teams because I always say rooting for Cincinnati builds character. It helps you deal with disappointment. It helps you find the silver linings. It helps you appreciate Mohamed Sanu.
It also helps that he has a personality that can crack me up a little bit. While I generally find my friends who use too many exclamation points and emojis in their Tweets somewhat obnoxious, I can’t help but find @Mo_12_Sanu’s feed hilarious. Here’s how he wished Andy Dalton a happy birthday. Like a 12-year-old:
Happy Birthday to my boy andydalton14 !!! Hope you have a good one bro🎈🎊🎉🎁 http://t.co/EidnOSYndC— Mohamed Sanu (@Mo_12_Sanu)
This should annoy me, but for some reason it doesn’t. Part of it is, this kid was born in 1989, so he is effectively an infant. Moreso though, it is that a 6’2” intimidating football player shows the enthusiasm of Taylor Swift about his QB’s birthday, hanging with his little cousins, and he finds it necessary to persistently tweet his horoscope (he’s a Leo, if you’re wondering). It’s like why I love Bengals safety Taylor Mays because he has a Lululemon backpack collection and likes to wear jerseys baring his midriff. It is the perfection of not being on top, the team in the middle, or the number two wide receiver. You may not always end up on top, but you have endless opportunities to catch people by surprise.
Mohamed Sanu has been nothing but a pleasant surprise for me, so, as I come off what I can safely say was the worst month of my life, I look to November and a game with a vulnerable Jacksonville secondary tomorrow where I can call out “Sanuuuuuuu” with a smile on my face, knowing I have learned that the lesson that it is no fun to like the obvious and the easy. It is more gratifying to like the ones that may not always be top notch, but will surprise you, enthuse you, and leave you with that wonderful feeling that you appreciate something that other people just haven’t realized is amazing yet.