FOTM – Cory Bonini

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Cory Bonini has been involved with fantasy sports since 1996 and joined KFFL (a part of USA Today Sports) in 2002 as a research analyst. Today he’s general manager at KFFL. In other words, he gets paid to be a fantasy sports nerd! Cory’s work has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. He’s so good at his gig that in 2011 he took down first place in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry’s best. I “met” Cory in 2003 when he offered me my first paid gig as a writer, covering the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks. Thanks for taking a chance on me, Cory! Today, he’s going to tell us what bands he would take in the first round. Here are his top-5 picks…

OLM: The desert island question: if you could take the collected works of five artists, who would the five be?

Cory Bonini: 88 Fingers Louie, Guns N’ Roses, Grateful Dead, Bad Religion and A Tribe Called Quest. I grew up on GNR, so they’re a must. The Dead keeps me mellow and grounded. Tribe is exactly what hip-hop/rap should be in my estimation, and Bad Religion offers intelligently written music. This list was so difficult to narrow down. Honorable mentions include Tom Petty, Jay Z, AFI, Sublime, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, NOFX and so many more.

OLM: What a diverse list! Let’s talk about 88 Fingers Louie. Who are they? What’s their story?

CB: They’re a Chicago-born punk band whose life spanned from 1993 to 1999 and again with a brief reformation from 2009 to 2011. Their original bassist, Joe Principe, and lead guitarist, Dan Wleklinski, left in ’99 to form the popular band Rise Against. Louie came back with a 26-track album in 2010, but they currently have no plans to tour anytime soon.

OLM: Why do they make your desert island five?

CB: They are raw. I love their unrefined sound; it gets me amped up. They remind me of when I first started getting into punk music, which brings back so many memories of a carefree time. It turns out that growing up brings responsibilities you often don’t share with your teenage self, haha! Punk music is a mental escape for me.

OLM: Do you remember when (and how) you were introduced to them?

CB: I am going to guess 1996 or ’97 at my friend Andy’s house. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, so there wasn’t a lot to do in the winter months but chill and listen to music. Their sound caught my attention at some point. Perhaps originally it was teenage angst. I love several other bands that were/are on the Fat Wreck Chords label, which 88 Fingers Louie had been signed to, so I probably picked them up from listening to bands like The Vandals, NOFX, Strung Out, Lagwagon, No Use For A Name. I may not look like your classic punk rock music fan, but I am passionate about the genre, even to this day.

OLM: Have you had the pleasure of witnessing 88 Fingers Louie live? If so, did the live show live up to your expectations?

CB: Unfortunately, I have not. They broke up shortly after I really started to get into their music, and I didn’t get a chance to catch their most recent incarnation. Hopefully someday, though.

OLM: Are there any 88 Fingers Louie songs and/or albums that stand out from others?

CB: I’d say my favorite songs are 100 Proof, Blink, I Hate Myself, and Punk Rock Rulebook, but I enjoy everything they have done. I think 100 Proof may be my favorite, though … something about it just grabs me. Go Away and Wanted are albums I cannot tire of.

OLM: I love talking about music, but I also love discussing sports and since you’re a “sports guru”, let me pick your brain for a few minutes here. First, what NFL team(s) made the best moves in the offseason? How about the worst?

CB: How can you not like what the Seattle Seahawks have done? I can’t help but think the Patriots made a huge mistake by letting Wes Welker walk for so little money and paying through the nose to an injury-prone Danny Amendola. Baltimore looks like it came out of free agency in rough shape on defense and in the team leadership department. Denver really screwed up that Elvis Dumervil fiasco, huh? I think that could come back to bite them.

OLM: What teams will be in Super Bowl XLVIII?

CB: It is awfully difficult to vote against the 49ers these days, but I am skeptical of Colin Kaepernick. I guess I just want to see more from him before making an emphatic declaration. Seattle seems to be in the brink. I have to give Denver some love, and Houston seems like they’re close, too. As long as Aaron Rodgers is slinging it the way he has been, it’s tough to count out the Pack. They need to stay healthy on D.

OLM: NFL fantasy football drafts won’t start for about four months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start talking about it now! What does the first round look like for you? Who are your top 10 players, in order?

CB: Definitely subject to and will change at some point this offseason, but I think this is about what the first round should look like and/or more or less my overall top 10. It’s only May [2013], so I will probably change my mind 300 times before Week 1.

1) Adrian Peterson, running back, Minnesota Vikings
2) Arian Foster, running back, Houston Texans
3) Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City Chiefs
4) Ray Rice, running back, Baltimore Ravens
5) LeSean McCoy, running back, Philadelphia Eagles
6) Calvin Johnson, wide receiver, Detroit Lions
7) Marshawn Lynch, running back, Seattle Seahawks
8) Trent Richardson, running back, Cleveland Browns
9) Doug Martin, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10) Drew Brees, quarterback, New Orleans Saints

OLM: Ok, let’s talk “reality” sports…who are some of your favorite sports teams? Who do you follow?

CB: I really don’t know that I have a favorite NFL team. I grew up a Raiders and 49ers fan in Michigan (Bo Jackson and Jerry Rice), but I quickly grew out of that. Some guy named Brett Favre caught my attention and quickly became my favorite player. Today I find myself rooting for the Lions, which is a Michigan thing, I suppose. I am more of a fan of offensive and defensive schemes than anything. Football is a chess match to me.

I love the Colorado Avalanche in hockey. They’re a young team, and it’s a matter of time before something exciting comes from it. Baseball isn’t a sport on my radar, so I guess I root for the lowly Padres or support Detroit. I don’t follow the NBA enough to care, so Detroit it is. LBJ and Kobe are fun to watch, but that’s the extent of my interest in the sport.

OLM: Enough talk about music and sports. What else do you like to do when not working, Cory?

CB: I have quite the eclectic blend of interests. I love to golf … in fact, I am thoroughly addicted to it. I am a pretty good cook. I love to create dishes from scratch and just make things as I go. There’s never any true rhyme or reason, and certainly no recipes, behind it. I love to grill and smoke food, too. I’ve been brewing beer for about seven years now and am happy that microbrews have finally started to gain a loyal following.

I have an obsession with all things zombie, which started long before the recent craze. I love to work on and restore automobiles. I like to fix things, in general. I guess that comes from my jack-of-all-trades father.

Growing up in the sticks gave me an appreciation for the outdoors. I like to target shoot, fish, and just hike around in the woods. Snowmobiling is one of my favorite things to do, but it’s not too easy when one lives in Southern California! I try to make trips to Big Bear Mountain to snowboard at least a few times per year.

I have interest in video games and movies, but time usually isn’t on my side since covering the NFL has become a 365 job. Fiction writing is a romance of mine, but finding the time to do it is tough. Spending 10, 12, 15 hours a day on a computer only to come back to it after work to write for fun is a hard pill to swallow.

Current events, politics, history, psychology, sociology, and astronomy are all high on my short list of true passions in life.

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