JEFFERSON — Fantasy football continues to grow in popularity each and every year. For a group of Ashe County friends, it’s just another day at the office.
The Ashe Football League, a 12-team league made up some diehard football fans, was recently featured in an ESPN article written by fantasy football expert Matthew Berry.
Davis Lyle, one of the founding team members, spoke with Berry and helped put the story together.
The story was centered around the “Keep Pounding” mantra of the Carolina Panthers, and one diehard Panther fan from the county named Mark Wyatt that recently lost his battle with cancer.
“Well, in 2002 fantasy football was starting to get more and more popular. All of us were football fans. Some of us had played prior to this, some this was their first time,” said Lyle. “At this point most everyone in the league worked together, so it gave us something to talk about while working night shift.”
Most of the league members worked at Leviton while Mark worked at Magic Video.
Mark and Davis graduated from Ashe Central, most of the others graduated from Northwest Ashe.
According to Davis, 10 of the 12 league members still call Ashe County home.
In the ESPN article, Davis said he and Mark started playing fantasy basketball while they were at Ashe Central in 1993. This was well before the internet made drafting and score keeping incredibly easy, so of course they kept all of the stats and points by hand.
Davis said that the group of buddies had prepared to call it quits after Mark’s death. However, after seeing a Facebook post from Mark’s wife, Amy, the group felt motivated to put the league back together and get ready for the 2015 season.
The Ashe Football League retired Mark’s team name, and even named the championship trophy after him, dubbed “The Wyatt.”
Mark passed away in May and is survived by his wife, Amy, who is also one of the biggest Panther fans you’ll ever find.
Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-846-7164 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87