Categories
Uncategorized

Power to the FANS, with Jesse Schwartzman

Here at the FCFL, we are trying to create the most immersive fan experience ever delivered by a professional sports league, tailoring every element of action (from team design to player selection to in-game strategy) to match how fans in 2018 want to consume their football. We want to merge the best elements of video-gaming, like control over outcomes and tangible reward systems, with the best elements of pro football, like high-skilled competition and captivating personalities and storylines.

We also understand that this concept is bold, wild, and weird. It is sometimes confusing to those learning about it for the first time, and even for those who understand it conceptually, it seems almost too futuristic (like Black Mirror doing a football episode). But what we have found from listening to the thousands of active play-callers from the 2017 season of the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles is that once you give it a try, once you are at the helm calling plays in real-time, you immediately get it. A little taste of the good stuff, and there’s no going back.

Given the integral role fans will play in the FCFL, it is crucial to understand what is so appealing to the user. What is it like to be a fan-controlled football fan?

So, I think it best to introduce you, the loyal FCFL supporter, to some of the most impassioned fans who supported the FCFL’s proof of concept, the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, that played in the Indoor Football League during the 2017 season.

Today we hear from a Screaming Eagle original and power fan – Jesse Schwartzman.

How did you first learn about the Screaming Eagles?

I first found out about the Screaming Eagles from a sponsored Facebook post (yes, those actually work).

What is your most fond memory as a digital coach/manager/play-caller?

My fondest memory is calling a play that turned into a touchdown from my seat at the first Screaming Eagles home game ever! I jumped on the field after that first touchdown and high fived some of the players and Co-Founder Ray Austin!

When did you realize you were hooked? What made you realize this?

I realized I was hooked after that first home game. I thrived on the passion in the stands and on the message board. I called plays every game during the season!

What changes would you like to see with the FCFL from the Indoor Football League experience?

No more kickers! We lost some games due to multiple kickers. 1 minute max on instant replays. The pace of the game is important and should not be disrupted!

Special teams: keep them or ditch them?

DITCH THEM

When the FCFL kicks off, are you going to stick with the Screaming Eagles, or choose to support a new team?

The Screaming Eagles have one of the coolest logos in sports and I feel attached to them but I love to build and develop teams from scratch. I look forward to joining one of the new teams front office!

Which player would you most want to see join the FCFL?

We need to bring back at least one of the superstars of last year’s Screaming Eagles! I would love to see Verlon Reed in the FCFL!

What is your favorite sports video game?

MADDEN

Thanks for the input, Jesse!

If you have any interesting questions you’d like to have answered by fans in subsequent interviews, or if you are a Screaming Eagles fan who would like to lend your voice to our blog, please let us know!

Categories
Uncategorized

NFL Gamers, featuring Aaron Beasley

Here at the FCFL, we LOVE us some video game action (especially Patrick – check out his gaming podcast Pixel by Pixel if you’ve got some time!). In fact, our (slight) addictions to Madden Football are what helped spawn the idea of fan-controlled football in the first place.

As it turns out, we are not alone! Spoiler Alert: a LOT of people play Madden just as hardcore as we do; some even more so. In fact, many of the real players captured on your screen in pixelated form are just as crazy about gaming as you and I. The NFL is filled with guys who drag their XBox on road trips just to get their fix in the hotel. Some would even say that it is integral to their pregame routine.

As we lead up to the launch of our opening kickoff, we will be speaking with several NFL players, both current and former, to learn about their gaming habits and why they love Madden so much. Who knows, perhaps we will even unearth a couple future FCFL power fans!

Last week, we spoke with former pro bowler Walt Harris. Today, we hear from former Jaguars star cornerback Aaron Beasley.

After playing his college ball at West Virginia University, where he was a first-team All American, leading the nation with ten interceptions, Aaron was drafted by Jacksonville in the third round of the 1996 NFL Draft. He played nine seasons across three franchises, but the majority of his 105 career starts came with the Jaguars. In 2009, Aaron was inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame.

As you will soon learn, Aaron is also a MASSIVE gamer, with some impressive Madden franchise mode tendencies.

Let’s find out about his gaming habits-

When did you first start playing Madden?

When did the first Madden come out? That was on Sega Genesis or something like that, wasn’t that the first Madden?

Which team is your go-to?

Back in the day, it was the Cincinnati Bengals with James Brooks and Boomer Esiason. I remember James Brooks; he was a running back but you could use him as a receiver. I’d do that little angle route (boop, BOOP!)

As for today, I really don’t like playing with regular teams. I always do a fantasy draft and pick my own team. When Ray Austin told me about fan-controlled football and fan choice, I was like – yo, this is like Madden, but with real people!

Do you have a favorite year or device that you prefer (e.g. X-Box, Playstation, etc)?

I’m an Xbox One guy. I’d still go with Genesis, but they don’t make’m anymore!

The Madden cover jinx… real or #fakenews?

Umm… I think, until recently, it was real… But Brady is a quarterback, so quarterbacks are different. They don’t get hurt as much. But I know it did happen to Donovan McNabb, so I’d say it’s real. It’s like an 80% rate of injury!

Who’s your all-time favorite video game football player, Madden or otherwise (like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl or Michael Vick in Madden 2001)?

I would have to say Lawrence Taylor on Tecmo Bowl (editor’s note: this is a savvy choice. LT was DOMINANT off the snap). Maybe Walter Payton on Tecmo Bowl too. Oh man… But I’m a defensive guy, so I gotta go with Lawrence Taylor.

Franchise mode or exhibition game?

All franchise mode. I never play exhibition games. I will sit around my house for hours just putting my team together and not even playing games. Being a former football player, that’s like chess to me: building up a team from zero and trying to win a Super Bowl. That’s like the ultimate chess game to me.

Do you ever visit the online forums or Reddit threads about Madden or other video games?

I’m old school. The thing is, I do some stuff with other video games. I go to Las Vegas as part of The Pros vs. the GI Joes (hosted by the Joint Forces Initiative) which is a nonprofit gaming community where celebrities and former NFL guys will play against Army vets in video games. I’ve been to New York, Las Vegas, E3, doing things with video games. I’m a Madden-head, but I’m a VIDEO GAMER.

Who is the best Madden player in the NFL that you have played against?

Me! I can’t put nobody next to me.

I would say, my boy [former Cowboys, Saints, and Falcons cornerback] Kevin Mathis.I had to stop playing because he whipped me so bad. I’m a football guy where, on fourth down, I’m punting. If it’s fourth and inches, I probably punt cuz I like to play a real game. But he kept going for it on fourth down, and I said, ‘you know what? I’m done. I’m playin against a former NFL player, and you play like that?’

There are supposed to be unwritten rules about fourth down, you know? I like the true simulation of the football experience.

Do you ever play Madden games online against strangers? What’s your trash talk game like?

Nah, I only play in person against my friends. I’ve got six franchises right now that I’m playing on Madden. I’ve got a one-team franchise, I’ve got one with three guys, one with six. I actually played and won a 32-team Madden franchise, and they played every game every day, so if you didn’t play the game, you got skipped.

Be real for a second… have you ever edited yourself in the game to increase your settings? And if so, what did you change?

OF COURSE. I added speed and acceleration. That’s all I did, I didn’t add anything else, just my speed. My speed was never right.

Do the guys in charge of player ratings do a good job, in your opinion?

They don’t look at game speed; they look at 40 times. I had game speed, you can’t teach that.

If the Madden experience were to be applied to REAL FOOTBALL, would you call plays? Why?

When the FCFL debuts, I’m just gonna be a coach. I just want to coach all the defensive backs and let the fans make the calls. The concept is GREAT. I told Tony Dorsett, and he was like: ‘yo, I wanna talk to them!’

Editor’s note: Hey Tony, our line is open for you whenever you’d like to chat!

(Thanks again to Aaron for sharing his time and thoughts!)

Categories
Uncategorized

Power to the FANS, with Hugo Boutin

Here at the FCFL, we are trying to create the most immersive fan experience ever delivered by a professional sports league, tailoring every element of action (from team design to player selection to in-game strategy) to match how fans in 2018 want to consume their football. We want to merge the best elements of video-gaming, like control over outcomes and tangible reward systems, with the best elements of pro football, like high-skilled competition and captivating personalities and storylines.

We also understand that this concept is bold, wild, and weird. It is sometimes confusing to those learning about it for the first time, and even for those who understand it conceptually, it seems almost too futuristic (like Black Mirror doing a football episode). But what I have personally come to learn quickly within my time working on fan-controlled football is that once you actually strap in and give it a try, once you are at the helm calling plays in real-time, you immediately get it. A little taste of the good stuff, and there’s no going back.

Given the integral role fans will play in the FCFL, it is crucial to understand what is so appealing to the user. What is it like to be a fan-controlled football fan?

So, I think it best to introduce you, the loyal FCFL supporter, to some of the most impassioned fans who supported the FCFL’s proof of concept, the Salt Lake Screaming Eagles, that played in the Indoor Football League during the 2017 season.

When I first started working with what would become the FCFL a few months ago and asked about getting to speak with some of the fans, our CEO Sohrob Farudi immediately said: ‘oh, you gotta talk to this guy Hugo. Lives in France, huge sports fan, loves crypto, totally gets what we are building, and was one of our best supporters.’ The fact that individual fans across the globe can make such a substantive impact on league operations is exactly what I love about the dream of the FCFL. The top performing fans should be known entities, just like the top coaches and the top players. In the FCFL circles, Hugo is a known entity. You can find him on Twitter @HugoBoutinFr.

Hugo is the founder of Naval Sports (@navalsportsco), a sports brand that he was inspired to create by his own grandfather, who in 1954 left his first division basketball team to start his own team with friends. That upstart squad wound up rising the ranks and ultimately facing the team he had left during the Wild Derby tournament. Hugo carries a strong passion for the evolution of sports, and particularly the way it is consumed by players and fans alike.

So it was only right that we bring him in for our first fan interview (below image is Hugo playing on the world’s oldest basketball court, which is located in a YMCA basement in Paris). Here goes!

How did you first learn about the Screaming Eagles?

I learned about the Screaming Eagles thanks to Indiegogo. Back then, the team didn’t even have a name, logo, coach or players (these would be voted on by the early fans). It is amazing to see how quickly and successfully the concept grew up. The opportunity to be one of the first fans to support the project was just too good not to get involved!

What is your most fond memory as a digital coach/manager/play-caller?

It is very hard to pick one, but I think it was when all the associate coaches were on a weekly meeting with the head coach. We could share our opinions on the playbook, which is something that I couldn’t have done with any other team. There was even a play called Paris (where I live)! When the app was officially launched, and the idea became a reality, was definitely one of the best moments too.

When did you realize you were hooked? What made you realize this?

When I started to do video-call meetings with the team late in the night due to the time difference, and waking up during the nights for some games, made me realize I was really hooked. That was a level of engagement I had never experienced with one of my sports teams before. I was truly committed to the team.

What changes would you like to see with the FCFL from the Indoor Football League experience?

I think it is essential that all teams are on the same fan-based model in order to compete on the same level. The FCFL will definitely provide that experience. There will be more fan-driven competition, whereas before it was more the fans competing against regular teams, so there was an element of competition missing in terms of who was actually your opponent. The FAN Token will also help the fan get more power and drive more rewards, I think.

Special teams: keep them or ditch them?

That’s a good question. I don’t have a strong opinion on it because the two solutions present benefits and drawbacks. The only good answer is: let the fans decide! (editor’s note: this man knows his audience!)

When the FCFL kicks off, are you going to stick with the Screaming Eagles, or choose to support a new team?

As I followed the team since its birth, I’ll stick with the Screaming Eagles. They did a great job last year and I love the reference in the name and the logo.

Which player would you most want to see join the FCFL?

Wide Receiver Anthony Dable, who has played with both the New York Giants and the Atlanta Falcons. Gotta get someone to represent France! And interesting note on Anthony: he first learned about the NFL in his teenage years by playing Nintendo!

What is your favorite sports video game?

Madden, of course!

A big thank you to Hugo for being the guinea pig for this fan interview experiment. Watch out for his name on top of the 2018 Fan Leaderboard repping the Screaming Eagles! If you have any interesting questions you’d like to have answered by fans in subsequent interviews, or if you are a Screaming Eagles fan who would like to lend your voice to our blog, please let us know!

Categories
Uncategorized

NFL Gamers, featuring Walt Harris

Here at the FCFL, we LOVE us some video game action (especially Patrick – check out his gaming podcast Pixel by Pixel if you’ve got some time!). In fact, our (slight) addictions to Madden Football are what helped spawn the idea of fan-controlled football in the first place.

As it turns out, we are not alone! Spoiler Alert: a LOT of people play Madden just as hardcore as we do; some even moreso. In fact, many of the real players captured on your screen in pixelated form are just as crazy about gaming as you and I. The NFL is filled with guys who drag their Xbox on road trips just to get their fix in the hotel. Some would even say that it is integral to their pregame routine.

As we lead up to the launch of our opening kickoff, we will be speaking with several NFL players, both current and former, to learn about their gaming habits and why they love Madden so much. Who knows, perhaps we will even unearth a couple future FCFL power fans!

First up in our list of interview subjects is former pro bowl cornerback Walt Harris.

After playing his college ball at Mississippi State University, Walt was taken with the 13th pick of the 1996 NFL draft by the Chicago Bears, where he started for six years before departing via free agency. Walt would go on to play 13 seasons in the NFL across four teams, including two pro bowl years with the San Francisco 49ers in 2006 and 2007. He retired with 35 career interceptions. It was once said that two thirds of the world was covered by water; the rest was covered by Walt Harris.

Walt is also a big-time gamer, and his specialty, of course, is Madden Football.

Let’s find out about his gaming habits-

When did you first start playing Madden?

Right around when I entered the league, in 1996. Way back in the day.

Which team is your go-to?

I usually go with the St. Louis Rams. Give it to Gurley and run wild.

Do you have a favorite year or device that you prefer (e.g. X-Box, Playstation, etc)?

I’ve always been a PlayStation guy.

The Madden cover jinx… real or #fakenews?

FAKENEWS (editor’s note: Given that 2017 cover boy Tom Brady is about to win the MVP, this seems accurate)

Who’s your all-time favorite video game football player, Madden or otherwise (like Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl or Michael Vick in Madden 2001)?

Well since I’m a Rams guy, gotta go Marshall Faulk. A stud running back and receiver in one package.

Franchise mode or exhibition game?

Exhibition. I like to play the games and leave the managing to the GMs.

Do you ever visit the online forums or Reddit threads about Madden or other video games?

Not really. I’m more old-school; a purist.

Who is the best Madden player in the NFL that you have played against?

That would be (former Giants and Raiders d-back) Johnnie Harris. We played together at Mississippi State.

Do you ever play Madden games online against strangers?

Oh yes. Great way to get a competitive game going when no one else is around.

What’s your trash talk game like?

I’m not a trash talker. I let my game do the talking.

Be real for a second… have you ever edited yourself in the game to increase your settings? And if so, what did you change?

No, I like to stay true… however, that can always change.

Do the guys in charge of player ratings do a good job, in your opinion?

I think it’s been pretty fair.

If the Madden experience were to be applied to REAL FOOTBALL, would you call plays? Why?

Absolutely!! Because that makes it even more real and competitive.

(Thanks again to Walt for sharing his time and thoughts!)

Categories
Uncategorized

What Makes the FCFL Different? Part Three

The major professional sports leagues offer an incredible product. We love them. We consume them with unbridled and unapologetic enthusiasm ourselves. Monday Night Football, Christmas NBA triple headers; NHL Playoffs – these are institutions, baked into the very fabric of our lives, both digital and real. They showcase the best talent in their respective sports that the world has to offer. What’s not to like?

They are also rooted in mythology, which has its pros and cons. On the positive side, these leagues have a palpable sense of lore associated with them. Just hearing the NFL Films orchestra sets off a pavlovian response mechanism that gets our blood pumping and our stomachs craving buffalo wings. They have a unique history shared by their fans and players alike; a tangible narrative with which to entertain their consumers. Cowboys and Niners, Yankees and Red Sox, Wilt’s 100 points and Broadway Joe’s victorious prediction.

They have tradition.

But tradition also carries with it some encumbrances. They are tied to it and slow to adapt from it, even when doing so would be an obvious win for their organization. They constantly worry about change and how it will affect the relationship with their fans. Even something as seemingly mundane as putting an advertisement on a jersey is celebrated as monumental innovation. The idea of technological shift isn’t just unfathomable to these leagues; it would represent a complete deviation from the story they have told for decades. They are tethered to their old-school operations like a ship to a dock because at the very core of their value proposition is the story. The narrative that often carries more value to the act of fanaticism than does the very quality of play on the field. They simply cannot do what we can do.

We will foster more innovative approaches to sports media than can the major existing professional leagues. Let’s take a look at how:

Part Three: We are building our games with production of the digital audience at the core

Going to a major pro sports game is a hell of a time.

The intensity, the comradery, the tailgates that last longer than the games themselves. The thrill of victory; the agony of defeat. It’s a whirlwind of emotions and borderline sensory overload, with flavors and noises and visual stimuli abound (but no chicken sandwiches for Falcons fans on Sundays).

You also must suffer through hours of traffic, both coming and going, fees in the hundreds of dollars for parking and tickets and hot dogs and drinks and programs and peanuts, snaking lines of people in desperate need of a toilet, wind and rain and snow and heat and cold, all from the comforts of your stiff seat in the third deck that’s always suspiciously warm when you first sit down. And when you do find your seat and start watching the game, you realize how difficult it is to follow the action from such a distance. You find yourself watching the game on the jumbotron, or scrolling your phone to check the action from the other games. For all the money and energy you put into attending the game, you wind up watching very little of the actual game itself; and by the fourth quarter, you remember how badly you wish you were on your couch watching a professional broadcast checking your fantasy matchup with your phone plugged into a charger.

And your shoes are squishy and smell of overpriced light beer for the rest of the week.

Most leagues are built primarily for an in-person audience, with massive stadiums seating up to 100,000 fans at a time. And while technological enhancements like HDTV have certainly improved the viewing experience for those not in the stadium, video content has remained fairly static over the years. The leagues have developed a phenomenal product, and they are resistant to tinker with it very much at all.

At the FCFL, we are not only prepared to embrace technology as part of the production strategy; we are specifically building our game with video capture at the heart of the action. Rather than give each team a home stadium for fans, we will be building one arena that will serve as a production studio specifically outfitted for video capture of all kinds. Each of our games will be played consecutively at the studio: think American Ninja Warrior, but for football. By focusing our on-field production on the digital experience, we will be able to integrate all sorts of new camera technology into our games. Helmet cams, drone cams, cams of all kind. Wearable sensors and in-arena technology – even embedded in the game ball itself – will provide a constant stream of data to enhance broadcasts and push the envelope of football analytics, helping fans make the best possible decisions from roster moves to play calls.

Both the FCFL and the Studio Arena will serve as a sports technology “playground” for emerging technology in sports and entertainment. We will make all content readily available and consumable for the fans who, after all, also make up our coaching staffs. Data will flow through our app like a Tom Brady offense during a two-minute drill.

We can’t wait to get the season underway and showcase all of the innovations we have in store for your fan experience, but there is more work to be done first!

Categories
Uncategorized

What Makes the FCFL Different? Part Two

The major professional sports leagues offer an incredible product. We love them. We consume them with unbridled and unapologetic enthusiasm ourselves. Monday Night Football, Christmas NBA triple headers; NHL Playoffs – these are institutions, baked into the very fabric of our lives, both digital and real. They showcase the best talent in their respective sports that the world has to offer. What’s not to like?

They are also rooted in mythology, which has its pros and cons. On the positive side, these leagues have a palpable sense of lore associated with them. Just hearing the NFL Films orchestra sets off a pavlovian response mechanism that gets our blood pumping and our stomachs craving buffalo wings. They have a unique history shared by their fans and players alike; a tangible narrative with which to entertain their consumers. Cowboys and Niners, Yankees and Red Sox, Wilt’s 100 points and Broadway Joe’s victorious prediction.

They have tradition.

But tradition also carries with it some encumbrances. They are tied to it and slow to adapt from it, even when doing so would be an obvious win for their organization. They constantly worry about change and how it will affect the relationship with their fans. Even something as seemingly mundane as putting an advertisement on a jerseyis celebrated as monumental innovation. The idea of technological shift isn’t just unfathomable to these leagues; it would represent a complete deviation from the story they have told for decades. They are tethered to their old-school operations like a ship to a dock because at the very core of their value proposition is the story. The narrative that often carries more value to the act of fanaticism than does the very quality of play on the field. They simply cannot do what we can do.

We will foster more innovative approaches to sports media than can the major existing professional leagues. Let’s take a look at how:

Part Two: The videogame revolution is not just upon us; it’s been here for quite a while

If you are interested in what the FCFL is building, there’s a good chance that you are familiar with the role of video games within the fan experience. They’ve been pivotal to each league’s narrative and ongoing engagement with fans since ataris began permeating American living rooms in the eighties (millenials, ask your parents). Even things like the original electronic football, which traces its roots to the 1940s, served the practical purpose of providing a simulation of the game over which you had a bit of control (our tech is a bit more advanced).

Football has Madden, NFL Blitz, and (our favorite) Tecmo Bowl. Hockey has EA NHL and Wayne Gretzky Hockey. Baseball has RBI Baseball, MLB2K, and Out Of The Park. Basketball has NBA Jam, NBA Live, and NBA 2K. We’ve burned as many hours (and possibly more) jamming our thumbs into controllers playing these games than we have watching the very leagues that they mimic. Some of the nerdiest among us spent entire semesters of college engrossed in franchise and dynasty modes, not even playing the actual games but rather acting solely as GM (spoiler alert: NCAA Football 2005 for PS2 caps you at 60 seasons).

Video games have long represented an additional outlet for fandom, and with the rise of Esports, we are seeing a further push for digital consumption of competition. Some analysts project the Esports market to reach over a billion dollars by 2020, and it already has its own ESPN page and the largest tournament purses in competitive sports. The Screaming Eagles demonstrated that our fan-centric approach to real football has great crossover appeal within the Esports community, as our partnership with Amazon’s Twitch helped generate over 100,000 active fans from over 100 countries in our first season.

So while soccer has FIFA, the FCFL has… the FCFL! Our fan-driven gameplay will essentially replicate its own football simulation. You are still making the play calls, but now instead of an electronic avatar running your option route, you will see a former SEC world-class athlete making the play.