Few people are blessed with the ability to play professional football. And even fewer are given the chance to be a general manager of an NFL team. Thank goodness for fantasy football, where anybody can manage a squad of gridiron gladiators. It’s one of the few pastimes that both statistical nerds and wannabe jocks can agree on.
With the football season about to start (and my league draft this weekend), I set out to identify who created fantasy football. According to various sources across the Web, a gentleman named Wilfred Winkenbach deserves the credit. Mr. Winkenbach originally used the fantasy concept for the game of golf, but it wasn’t long before he transferred the concept to baseball and then football.
As this article points out, “the football idea came to him on a wet October evening in 1962, when he discussed his idea with the Oakland Raiders PR man Bill Tunnell and the Oakland Tribune sports journalist, Scotty Stirling.” I assume the men had no idea what kind of multi-billion dollar industry they were creating.
In its initial incarnation, the rules were quite different than what they are today. For example, in the first fantasy football draft, “teams were able to draft 20 players: four offensive ends, four halfbacks, two fullbacks, two quarterbacks, two kick/punt returners, two field goal kickers, two defensive backs/linebackers and two defensive linemen.” And, according to CoEd magazine, the very first player picked in the very first fantasy football draft was none other than the great George Blanda. Think of him as the Adrian Peterson of his day.
An article from SFGate.com explains that the game wasn’t always called “fantasy football.” At first, Winkenbach named it the “Greater Oakland Pigskin Prognosticators League” (GOPPL). Each year, the loser of the league was forced to display a giant dunce cap in their home until the next season. Fear of embarrassment really is a great motivator.
Do you guys plan to participate in a fantasy football league? If so, got any tips on who to draft and who to avoid? Please leave a comment below — I don’t want to end up with a dunce cap on my coffee table.
Thanks for reading,
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