"It all began on a cold and soggy October night in 1962, when despite howling winds and driving rain, one man would ignite a spark. A spark that would fuel the passions of millions of Americans for decades to come. That man was Bill "Wink" Winkenbach, inventor of Fantasy Football."
That's how the story begins as told in a video put out by Toyota detailing how Fantasy Football was invented.
Wink was a minority owner of the Raiders and was in New York with Oakland Tribune sportswriter Scotty Stirling and Raiders public relations staffer Bill Tunnell to watch the Silver and Black play the Bills and Patriots. The three friends were staying in a Manhattan hotel when it began to rain. In an attempt to pass time, Winkenbach brought up an idea he had discussed with Tribune editor George Ross on the flight to Buffalo.
"I think it was a charter flight," Ross recalls. "I was sitting with Wink. We had been talking about investments, his businesses, and the conversation went over into his baseball fantasy league. It was a pitcher's league. I don't know who was in that, but he had been running it for some time. Anyway, I suggested that it could easily be converted into a football game. GOPPPL just evolved from that."
GOPPPL stood for the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League. It was the orginal name for the game we call Fantasy Football.
Stirling and Tunnell were intrigued by Wink's idea and began discussing the specifics of the game. As the night continued, the weather did not improve, but the fundamentals of the game did. All three men chipped in with the rules. If that is the case who deserves credit for the invention?
"Though I was involved, Winkenbach deserves the lion's share of the credit for developing the game," Stirling said. "We chipped in with rules, but the germ of inspiration was these earlier games he played with golf and baseball." Winkenbach is also credited with the invention of Fantasy Golf and Fantasy Baseball.
Local Oakland bar owner and fellow GOPPPL member Andy Mousalimas concurred that it was indeed Wink who originated the league, "Bill Winkenbach started fantasy football, no question about it."
Once Wink, Stirling, and Tunnell arrived back in Oakland, they let Ross in on their epiphany.
"Right off the bat we came up with a pretty good system," Ross said. GOPPPL officially made it's debut in 1963.
The original eight-team league consisted of owner-coach combinations. In order to be eligible to play, you had to meet at least one of the three requirements.
1. Affiliation with an AFL professional football team in an administrative capacity.
2. A direct relationship to professional football in a journalistic capacity.
3. Either have purchased or have sold ten season tickets for Oakland's 1963 season.
The league was primarily made up of Wink's friends, Raiders staffers, and Tribune sports writers. Winkenbach, Ross, Stirling, Tunnell, Phil Carmona, Ralph Casebolt, Raiders radio announcer Bob Blum, and Raider ticket manager George Glace made up the eight owners.
Ross teamed up with Tribune writer Bob Valli. Stirling partnered with Andy Mousalimas. Even former Raiders scout and legendary Packers general manager Ron Wolf was in on the experiment after teaming up with Glace.
And so on a late August night in 1963, Andy Mousalimas made George Blanda the first pick in Fantasy Football history.
Since that fateful day, Fantasy Football has become a true cultural juggernaut, spawning a multi-billion dollar industry. Every Sunday, over 26 million players unite into battle all because of one man, Bill Winkenbach.
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $100,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 1's NFL games. It's only $10 to join and first prize is $10,000. Starts Sunday, September 7th at 1pm ET. Here's the link