The Beginning of Fantasy Football

Could you imagine a world without fantasy football? Would you want to miss the excitement of who the first pick will be year after year? I wouldn’t.

Without the creation of the “Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League”, fantasy football would not the popular entity it is today. Organizations, such as Yahoo Fantasy, FanDuel, or Draft Kings, would not be the prominent sites without Bill Winkenbach’s idea in 1962.

Fantasy Football - Leader board UI
“Fantasy Football – Leader board UI” by Kevin Guisarde is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 

Bay area businessman and minority-owner of the Oakland Raiders, Bill Winkenbach, along with Raiders public-relations director Bill Tunnell and Oakland Tribune sportswriter Scott Stirling met in a New York hotel while the team traveled on the East Coast to cities such as New York, Buffalo, and Boston. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the rules for the inaugural season of the “Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League”, or the GOPPPL, which started the following football season with eight teams. The draft took place in a room in Winkenbach’s basement.

One of the men involved was Andrew Mousalimas, a bar manager and one of the original members of the GOPPPL. Mousalimas went on to open up his own bar, the Kings X in Oakland, and actually started his own league there. Before Mousalimas began his new league, he drafted George Blanda, the quarterback for the Houston Oilers of the American Football League (AFL), and although Blanda made it to the AFL championship game, Mousalimas still managed to come in last place in the first season of fantasy football.

Now, after over 50 years, millions of people are signing up for fantasy football leagues each season. The biggest difference between today and 1962 is that the scoring and roster sizes are much different and online drafting was created, but one aspect that hasn’t changed the fans’ passion for the sport of football.

For Further Reading: Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League – https://www.si.com/nfl/2014/07/15/nfl-history-in-95-objects-first-fantasy-football-league “I should’ve taken Jim Brown” – https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/8194880/first-fantasy-football-owner-shares-50-years-knowledge-espn-magazine

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