Ex-NFL star Al Wilson runs indoor football team enabling fans to call plays with app
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Fantasy football has swept the nation in recent years. It gives fans the ability to add, release and trade players all while putting together a winning lineup on Sundays. One company, Project FANchise, has taken the idea of fantasy football one step further by involving the fans in nearly every major football decision. From the color of the helmets all the way to calling the plays, Project FANchise wants to give you, the fan, control of the team.
Recently, Project FANchise announced the acquisition of its second team within the Indoor Football League, the Colorado Crush. Back in 2015, the company received approval for its first expansion team, the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, for which the fans chose the team name.
The company was co-founded by current CEO Sohrob Farudi, who wanted to come up with a way that fans could have a more direct role with their favorite team. “This just allows the fans to truly be a part of an organization and have some say and see what it’s like on the inside,” said Al Wilson, a co-owner of Project FANchise and former Denver Broncos All-Pro linebacker.
Wilson will act as a liaison between the players, fans and front office so that all sides can understand where each is coming from.
“Because fantasy sports are so big and people are so engaged 24/7, the fans understand the game a lot better than they did in the past,” Wilson said.
Wilson believes that Project FANchise offers the evolution to the next level of fantasy sports for fans. “People say the game isn’t exciting anymore,” Wilson said. “What can you do to excite the game and get the fans more involved?”
Project FANchise is injecting excitement by giving fans as little or as much involvement as they desire in their team. Recently, fans were tasked with choosing the first coach in Colorado Crush history, and they ended up selecting Jose Jefferson. “He’s now a part of something revolutionary,” said Wilson. “As a coach, his style and what he brings to the table, we’re going to make sure we give him what he needs as an organization and allow him to go out and do his job.”
As a head coach, you’re usually tasked with selecting plays during the game. They must be well-versed in what their opponent’s trying to do in order to make the right calls. Instead, there will be 10 fan representatives each week calling offensive plays for the team. According to Wilson, “Whenever the fans vote, those 10 representatives will actually be the eyes, ears and the voice for the fans.”
Play calling, which will work similar to how the “Madden” franchise runs, will work directly from the app. There is an iOS version currently available, and a more in-depth beta version for iOS and Android will be released in late December. The only unique feature to the app is the play calling, everything else in terms of earning FanIQ points and voting can be done through the Project FANchise website as well.
“Our entire plays will be loaded, associated with certain down and distance game situations,” Grant Cohen, Project FANchise’s Head of Digital, said. “The play that gets the most votes wins, and there will be an admin panel for our coach to look at so he can see what the winning play call was.”
The initial plan is for special teams, kicking and offensive plays to be called. Defense will be left out for the time being, simply because you don’t have the luxury of knowing when the offense will snap the ball.
Not just any fan can be one of those 10 representatives, however. “You will have your own fan profile and every fan profile has the ability to earn ‘FanIQ’ points,” Cohen said.
These FanIQ points can be earned in a variety of ways: reading articles, watching film to breakdown an upcoming opponent, predictive trivia games, etc. “The goal for a fan is to earn as many IQ points as possible because as you get to a certain level the points are going to earn certain badges,” Cohen explained.
Just like in real football, you will start as a rookie but have the opportunity to work your way up to hall of fame status. The higher you climb, the more important decisions you will be involved in. “So everyone can vote on helmet color, but maybe only All-Pros can decide who’s playing in the game,” said Cohen. “You have to earn your way.”
When asked what he would say to someone who is skeptical of fans running a franchise, Wilson said, “If you’re a little skeptical, sit back and watch it. You don’t have to be a part of it yet. See how it transforms, and if it’s something that you like and want to be a part of, we’ll welcome everybody on board.”