The History of Fantasy Football

Wilfred Winkenbach,[1] a former Oakland area businessman and limited partner in the Oakland Raiders, worked with Bill Tunnel, former Raiders Public Relations Manager, and Scotty Stirling, former reporter, to develop the rules that eventually became fantasy football in 1962. It was on a team trip to New York City in 1962 in the Milford Plaza Hotel.

The inaugural league was called the GOPPPL (Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League) and took place at King’s X bar in Oakland, CA. The league consisted of eight members, made up of administrative affiliates of the AFL, pro football journalists, or someone who had purchased or sold 10 season tickets for the Raiders’ 1963 season. Each roster consisted of the following in the GOPPPL: two quarterbacks, four halfbacks, two fullbacks, four offensive ends, two kick/punt returners, two field goal kickers, two defensive backs/linebackers and two defensive linemen.

Andy Mousalimas, owner of King’s X, and an original creator GOPPPL, brought the game back to the bar, where he added another couple leagues. When the patrons of other Oakland and San Francisco bars visited for trivia contests they soon learned of the game and passed the word about it. Due to the time consuming nature of the game’s scoring it was difficult to pick up and spread slowly across the country.

Fantasy Football was furthered in 1988, by Gary Chiappetta and David Mcnamara, who furthered rules on scoring. The two men were discussing players’ abilities, in a feud between Randall Cunningham (Eagles 1985-2001) and Jim Everett (Rams 1986-1997). Gary and David started to keep track of the players performances. Later they collected more players, creating a team. Word got out and people gathered to join, Divisions and fantasy playoffs were created at that point. Records and scores were kept on paper until they continued the league on the internet for easier scoring in 1995. Although David resigned, Gary is still a team owner in the league. The league is still in existence today.

Around the same time a game was conceived and developed by Robert Barbiere and Brad Wendkos of Phoneworks who teamed with West Coast Ad Agency (Wakeman & deForest). Pigskin Playoff allowed readers of those papers to create a team of NFL players, earn stats for those players based on actual performance, trade those players on a weekly basis, and accrue points in an effort to compete against one another to win prizes. Fantasy Football grew from its local grass roots game to a national sensation in 1989 when over 100,000 participants competed in Pigskin Playoff. This game was sponsored by twelve major newspapers, American Airlines, and endorsed by the NFL. Archives of the original game, players, and prizes are available from the LA Times, NY Post, Chicago Sun Times, and others.

Today it is estimated over 19 million people compete in public and private leagues online nationally.

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