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How the Raiders created fantasy football

Updated June 6, 2020 - 2:27 pm

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series acquainting fans with the Raiders’ illustrious 60-year history as the team moves to Las Vegas for the 2020 season.

It was called the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League — GOPPPL for short.

It was the first fantasy football league. It was founded in 1962 (and still exists today) during a dreary road trip to New York by Raiders front office staff, personnel and beat writers.

Bob Blum, a longtime Las Vegas broadcaster and executive with the Stars and 51s, was one of the league’s founding fathers. Blum was the Raiders’ play-by-play voice during their formative years in Oakland.

His picks in the inaugural GOPPPL draft included Frank Gifford, Bart Starr and former Raiders Tom Flores, Art Powell and George Blanda, though Blanda played for the Houston Oilers at the time.

Here are five other things to know about the world’s first fantasy football league:

1. There were eight owners or ownership teams: Scotty Stirling (Oakland Tribune sports writer) and Andy Mousalimas (Oakland bar owner); George Ross (Oakland Tribune sports editor) and Bob Valli (Tribune sportswriter); Bill Winkenbach (Raiders part owner); Blum; Phil Carmona (Raiders ticket office); Ralph Casebolt (Raiders ticket office) and Bill Downing (future Oakland Chamber of Commerce president); Bill Tunnell (Raiders public relations); and George Glace (Raiders ticket manager) and Ron Wolf (Raiders scout and future NFL Hall of Famer) .

2. The object of the GOPPPL was not so much to win, but not to lose. Winkenbach carved a football with a dunce cap on a lathe in his basement. The owner who finished last had to display the trophy in a prominent place or risk a fine.

3. Blanda was the GOPPPL’s first overall pick and was selected twice, as a quarterback and kicker. Jim Brown was the second pick. Each owner picked 20 players: Four halfbacks and receivers and two quarterbacks, fullbacks, kickers, kick returners, defensive backs/linebackers and defensive linemen.

4. Winkenbach was the GOPPL’s first commissioner — partly because the league was his idea, partly because he had access to a mimeograph machine that enabled him to distribute league standings.

5. A major controversy in the league developed when Raiders running back Pete Banaszak, famous for scoring short-yardage touchdowns, became more valuable than the Packers’ All-Pro John Brockington. The rules were changed to make 1,000-yard rushers worth more than guys who scored TDs on one-yard plunges.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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