September 11 was many things to many people. For Steve Rannazzisi, it was an eye-opening experience that made him reassess what he wanted out of life.
“I worked downtown on 9/11,” Rannazzisi, who plays “Kevin” on The League, said on The Morning Show. “My girlfriend – who is now my wife – and I moved out to L.A. right after that. She worked down at the World Trade Center, and I was downtown. It was really just one of those days where you’re like, ‘Holy cow. Am I doing what I really want to do?’ We moved a month-and-a-half later.”
Rannazzisi did stand-up work for a few years and was eventually discovered by Ashton Kutcher, who gave him an opportunity on Punk’d.
The rest, as they say, is history. Rannazzisi, 36, has been the lovable commissioner on The League for the last six years.
“Our creators (Jeff and Jackie Schaffer) came up with the idea for the show, and at that point, (everyone) was sort of like, ‘Yeah fantasy football could live on its own,’” Rannazzisi said. “The poker craze was just winding down, and (we thought fantasy football was something that would) be around for a while. Never in our wildest dreams did we think it was going to get as big as it is – and the fact that we’ve lasted six years is a testament to that.”
The show follows a group of friends who play fantasy football as they navigate marriage, babies, jobs and life in general. Given the popularity of fantasy football, it’s something that many people can relate to.
Rannazzisi, in fact, believes that football has supplanted baseball as the national pastime.
“People plan their lives around football now,” he said. “With the popularity of that rising and our show getting better and better, I think the two things just helped each other out.”
The cast members play fantasy football in a real life – “We have a very, very pitiful eight-man league,” Rannazzisi explained – and Mark Duplass, who plays “Pete,” is the reigning champion. Duplass has won the league the most times on the show, but last year was his first time winning in real life.
Rannazzisi, who is the only cast member who played fantasy football before the show originated, is the guy everyone else roots against. The cast doesn’t play for money, but they do get together for a nice dinner at the end of every season.
Food is one thing, but Rannazzisi doesn’t understand the extreme lengths some people go to when playing fantasy football. Some leagues, for example, stipulate that the person who finishes last must get a tattoo.
“That’s taking things way too seriously,” Rannazzisi said, laughing. “Look, you guys need to get a relationship or volunteer somewhere. You have too much time on your hands.”
A New York native, Rannazzisi is a diehard Giants fan and is hoping they can rebound after a disappointing 2013 season.
“I still can’t believe we won two Super Bowls,” he said. “After the second one, I was like, ‘Okay, now I’m a believer (in Eli Manning). Usually, it doesn’t take two Super Bowls. If you ask Seahawks fans right now, they’ll (say), ‘Russell Wilson is our guy for life.’ I still believe in Eli. I think last year he had a really tough time (with all the injuries), and I think that hopefully they shored up some of their offensive line woes. I’m not 100 percent sold, but I think Rashad Jennings is going to take some pressure off Eli. As long as he has a little more time to make some throws, (the Giants could be all right).”