The MMQB presents NFL 95, a special project running through mid-July detailing 95 artifacts that tell the story of the NFL, as the league prepares to enter its 95th season. See the entire series here.
The No. 1 overall pick was George Blanda. And thus was born fantasy football. Bill Winkenbach, a Bay Area businessman and part-owner of the Oakland Raiders, conceived of the idea in 1962. The Raiders were on an East Coast road swing, and Winkenbach, Raiders public-relations director Bill Tunnell and Oakland Tribune sportswriter Scotty Stirling met in a New York hotel to devise a set of rules. The GOPPL was open for business the following season.
There were eight teams, and the draft was held in the downstairs rumpus room of Winkenbach’s home. The game spread when Andrew Mousalimas, a bar manager and one of the original GOPPL owners, opened a new bar in Oakland, the Kings X, a few years later and started another league there. Fifty years later, tens of millions of people sign up for leagues every season. The scoring and roster makeup are different, and so is online drafting, but the passion of those who play hasn’t changed a bit. That first pick, by the way, was a total whiff. Though Blanda (above) led the Oilers to the AFL championship game, Mousalimas, who made him the first-ever fantasy football pick, finished dead last in his league that season—a fitting start to the beguiling game’s history.