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How to Win a Fantasy Football League, According to Former NFL Pro Nate Jackson

The footballer turned writer dishes on his latest book 'Fantasy Man' and life after the gridiron.

Former NFL pro Nate Jackson spent nearly a decade in pads before becoming a full-time writer. His lauded first book mixed snarky prose with insider knowledge, while his latest read, Fantasy Man, probes his all new obsession: fantasy football.

Men's Fitness: You’ve won your fantasy football league twice. What’s your secret?

NJ: Play with your heart and draft the people you want. Forget about the advice of the little experts. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I just like to draft guys I like, guys I used to play with—my buddies. 

Men's Fitness: In your first book, Slowly Getting Up, there are a lot of willing women. Has fantasy football ever gotten you laid? 

NJ: [Laughs] No, not at all. At least not yet. I guess now that I’ve written a book about it, that might change. 

Men's Fitness: You have the best take on fantasy I’ve ever heard: “If you have something better to do, you will fail.” 

NJ: It’s true. Think about all the hours being wasted every year in America with men studying their fantasy lineups. I wonder how much money and resources have been blown. 

Men's Fitness: But you still keep fit, even describing the gym as your “church.” What’s your workout like? 

NJ: When you play in the NFL, you’re a trained killer. Now, going to the gym can remind me of that power. I lift weights and do a lot of core work, plus the jump rope, punching bag, intervals on an uphill treadmill...No matter how bad my body hurts, when I make the decision to exercise, this switch flips in my mind and I lose myself in the workout. It can be very meditative. 

Men's Fitness: How do you handle the chronic pain? 

NJ: Pain has been a constant in my life. Pain is my best friend, and it’s also a teacher. It’s given me something to overcome, and made me mentally strong. Football players are all like that, because how you react to pain determines how far you make it. 

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