History of Fantasy Football: From Pen and Paper to the Internet

History of Fantasy Football: From Pen and Paper to the Internet

Before it was a sensation sweeping across the internet, fantasy football was a much more traditional game. Many seem to think that fantasy football got its start in the 80’s with the Rotisserie sports craze, but it’s actually older than that.

In fact, the first set of rules that we’d recognize as fantasy football date back to the 1960s! Today, we’ll outline a brief history of fantasy football for those of you who’ve always wondered where it all started.

Humble Beginnings

The very first set of rules that would come to be known as fantasy football were created in March of 1962. The Milford Plaza Hotel in New York was the venue, and the occasion was a Raiders trip to New York City. The people responsible for drafting the rules were Wilfred Winkenbach, Scotty Stirling and Bill Tunnell.

Winkenbach served as a limited partner for the Raiders, and Stirling was a reporter for a local Oakland newspaper. Bill Tunnell was the PR agent for the Raiders. The three met and created the rules one night while in the hotel.

The Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League, or GOPPPL, was the first ever fantasy football league. The first ever fantasy football draft took place in Winebach’s house, and the first ever fantasy draft pick was George Blanda.

The GOPPPL is still active to this day and is the longest running fantasy football league. It also retains its original touchdown-only scoring method, making it a very old-school style fantasy league!

Slow Growth

By 1969, Andy Mousalimas, one of the original GOPPPL players, had introduced fantasy football to the patrons of his bar, the King’s X. The Oakland bar found the game to be quite fun, albeit time-consuming to play and tally the scores for. When people would travel to the bar for trivia nights, they would often hear about fantasy football.

Many were intrigued, but it was slow to spread. The incredibly time-consuming nature of the game’s scoring made it a very all-encompassing hobby. Those who played took it very seriously and spent several hours per week focusing on their lineups and scores.

Fantasy sports received an explosion of attention in the 80’s, however, with the creation of Rotisserie leagues. These leagues were originally created for fantasy baseball, but grew to encompass sports like hockey and basketball, too.

Fantasy football was included in some of the books that followed the craze. However, these weren’t the most popular of the books, as baseball dominated Rotisserie leagues.

The Internet’s Place in the History of Fantasy Football

The real explosion in popularity hit with the advent of the Internet. By the late 90’s, there were tons of fantasy football sites all over the place. Pretty much every major sports network had their own fantasy league.

By 2010, even the NFL had launched their own league! The rest, of course, you already know. That’s how a game started in the 60’s by some football fans became an international phenomenon!