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SALEM — There are memorable fantasy football seasons, and then there's the season Nathan Harrington had.
Harrington, a Salem native, bested some 30,000 competitors to finish No. 1 among prize-eligible fantasy football leagues this season on ESPN.com. He did it all despite a crippling car accident, despite having no permanent residence and no computer. It's a feat not even the most ardent fantasy owners would dare to dream possible, and it has him on the verge of finding a new home.
"It was a ton of bad luck and good luck all rolled into one," Harrington said yesterday.
The bad luck began in the fall of 2009 when a car accident left Harrington with nerve damage and unable to work.
It got worse in October of last year when Harrington, his fiancee and his 3-year-old son were forced to move out of their Beverly apartment because the building was so infested with rats it was unlivable. The family was forced to move into a cheap motel; Harrington's computer went into a storage unit.
However, just four weeks into the new football season and practically homeless, Harrington found one piece of hope to cling to: His fantasy team was ranked in the top 50 of more than 3 million teams on ESPN.com. (A spokesman for ESPN explained that while 3 million teams play, only about 30,000 are eligible for prizes.) It became a salvation of sorts, and he put everything he had into it.
"My fantasy football was the one thing that kind of seemed to be going right at the time," Harrington said. "There was a lot to be upset about, but the one thing that was steady and heading in a positive direction was the fantasy football. So I thought I might as well stick with it and ride it out. Thank God I did."