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01 Aug 2007

Virgil Parks Defends the Original FFHoF

by Mike Tanier

Back in 2005, Mike Tanier wrote the original story about the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame (FFHoF) and its visionary creator Virgil Parks. We caught up with Parks again one year later for an update. But since then, ESPN appropriated Parks' idea without his consent. Their new Fantasy Football Hall of Fame advertising campaign is crushing Parks' efforts to get the real FFHoF off the ground. As part of our continuing effort to stick up for the common man, we dispatched Mike Tanier to interview Parks.

Tanier: How did you feel when you saw the ESPN Fantasy Football Hall of Fame advertisements, which seem to be a blatant rip-off of your idea?

Parks: I was astonished. I was disappointed. But mostly I was hung over. I saw them on Friday morning after dollar drafts night at P.J.'s. Ruthie was tending bad, the cute blonde with that amazing dragon tattoo at the base of her …

Tanier: Focus, Virgil.

Parks: Right. Anyway, two aspirins, an Arnold Palmer, and a soft boiled egg later, I knew I had to call two people: my lawyer, and my friends at Football Outsiders.

Tanier: You seem to have a clear-cut case here. I mean, you copyrighted the name Fantasy Football Hall of Fame, right?

Parks: Um, no. See, some years ago a business partner convinced me to switch from copyright to Copy-Lite, a low-cost alternative legal protection source. With copyright, you file some paperwork and get an ironclad guarantee that no one can claim your intellectual property. With Copy-Lite, you cross your fingers and rely on everyone else to be honest. Copy-Lite never failed me until now.

Tanier: So what's your course of action here?

Parks: Oh, don't worry. I still have a case. I mean, your article appeared both here and on FOXSports.com in December of 2005. Deadspin also picked it up, as did some other news sources. Unless the four-letter network has some material from before that date (fat chance) it is clear that they nabbed my idea. I plan to sue for 3.5 bazillion dollars.

Tanier: That's a considerable amount. Are you afraid of taking on a media giant like ESPN?

Parks: I've done it before. I sued NBC over the Smurfs in 1982. I proved that my 13-year old nephew got a tattoo on his arm because he wanted to emulate Hefty Smurf. Got a good settlement for pain and suffering, too. I'm the reason why Hefty's arm was digitally altered in all subsequent broadcasts. Peyo carried a grudge against me to his grave, the Belgian bastard.

Tanier: Do you think that ESPN maliciously stole your idea?

Parks: Oh, I know what you are thinking. It isn't the most original idea in the world. There are some similarities between my Hall, as outlined in your article, and ESPN's concept, but they could be the product of any brainstorming session. This isn't like your precious FO "research" that you guard so carefully. But you know what? The Football Outsiders article about the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame is still the top result on Google. Either the advertising agency didn't do a routine Google search to find me, so they ran with their idea, or they did a routine Google search, found me, and decided I was ripe for the plucking. So it's either incompetence or theft. I don't care which it is. I just want my 3.5 bazillion dollars.

Tanier: Have you suffered material losses?

Parks: Oh, it is a desperate crisis. The real, original FFHoF cannot raise money anymore. We were working on a Drew Bledsoe statue, and we hoped to make it as lifelike as possible. We hoped to hire MIT engineers to develop special alloys that would make the Bledsoe statue 25 percent more immobile than a regular statue. That project is out the window. We can't afford to hire curators, cafeteria staff ... heck, Mike, we can't even afford to pay your stipend for all of the work you do as Recording Secretary and Media Consultant.

Tanier: You pay me in tavern peanuts.

Parks: Yes, but so does Football Outsiders. And that's the point, isn't it? Advertising agencies receive tens of thousands of dollars to design campaigns like the Fantasy Football Hall of Fame. Networks like ESPN spend millions implementing those campaigns. You and the other FO writers aren't really looking for those types of paydays, though I bet you wouldn't turn them down. What you really want is credit. Mention Football Outsiders or Pro Football Prospectus, and maybe we'll sell a few hundred more books. Mention Mike Tanier or Aaron Schatz, and maybe they can demand more as freelance writers or get better assignments. That's all someone has to do, and while you won't hand over the DVOA formula or anything, you'll be pretty darn generous with your research or ideas. It has to be discouraging when the bigger fish won't even acknowledge what they borrowed, let alone pay for it.

Tanier: It is discouraging, Virgil. But this isn't about me. It's about you and the FFHoF. Where do you go from here?

Parks: We're adapting. I'm talking to some investors about an NFL Draft Hall of Fame. Brian Bosworth. Trev Alberts. Ryan Leaf. I know a guy who knows Mel Kiper Jr.'s barber and can get a lock of his hair. Some contractors say that for the right price they can build an authentic Brady Quinn Isolation Chamber. If I strike it rich from this lawsuit, we could break ground on the new museum by 2009.

Tanier: Sounds great. I am on board to help.

Parks: Thanks, homeslice. And remember: you heard about the NFL Draft Hall of Fame here first!

Posted by: Mike Tanier on 01 Aug 2007

17 comments, Last at 04 Aug 2007, 9:53am by NemoNC


by Doctor Hook (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 3:34pm

"Peyo carried a grudge against me to his grave, the Belgian bastard"

This might have been the funniest thing I have read all week. No offence to Belgium.

Great work as usual, Mike.

by masocc (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 3:37pm

Seriously though... does Virgil Parks exist? Or does Tanier's version of Fantasy Football include schizophrenia?

I'm honestly on the fence about this...

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 3:49pm

Of course Virgil Parks exists. Mike Tanier, I'm not so sure about.

by Doug Farrar (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 3:57pm

Tanier's real, but Virgil Parks is Who's Now.

by Mike W (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 4:35pm

The only thing wrong with this article is that it's much too short.

by pawnking (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 4:44pm

#1, I don't know. The whole idea behind the Drew Blesdoe statue was funnier, I thought. What other concepts could be incorporated into FFHOF statues? Maybe a glass knee for Dante Culpepper? A Randy Moss statue which only wants to be seen every third day? For the Draft HOF, a Ryan Leaf statue made of tissue paper spray painted to look like bronze. The mind spins with the possibilities.

by Sundown (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 4:53pm

Speaking of people getting ripped off, what was the outcome of that FO piece that got plagiarized by that ESPN columnist a few months back?

by John (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 5:12pm

Re: 4 THAT was the funniest thing I've read all week.

*sigh* Does anyone know if that crap is over with yet? I've sworn off sports center until it is.

by LnGrrrR (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 5:18pm

I wish there was more transparency at ESPN... I want to know who thought up the "who's now". I'm guessing it was Stuart Scott.

by kibbles (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 5:41pm

Re #7: Speaking of people getting ripped off, what was the outcome of that FO piece that got plagiarized by that ESPN columnist a few months back?

It was NFL.com columnist Gil Brandt. Click my name for the resolution.

by Karl (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 5:44pm

re 7:

it was nfl.com, not espn. he admitted that he jacked David Lewin's research and basically plagiarized, but said it was an honest mistake (as opposed to the blatant attempt at appropriation that it was).

by cjfarls (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 6:28pm

I can't decide whether I'm more proud of the FO guys for coming up with such great content, or more pissed at the "big guys" for stealing it... I guess they are both equal and large.

I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... I just hope FO can stick ESPN for this and at the least get the same apology, etc. NFL.com had to give...

Anyways, regardless whether the ignorant masses and "copy-lite" allow the biggies to steal your stuff, we know who run the best football website on the internet (and put out the best book every year... which I haven't put down since I got it 3 days ago!)

As always, keep up the good work guys. We love you. (man hugs & back-slapping ensues) ;-)

by Bill Barnwell :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 7:20pm

Where's Scribbly Tate when I need him?

by Fergasun (not verified) :: Wed, 08/01/2007 - 7:38pm

It's not like FO isn't evil... I mean the perceived "problems" I had getting my book from Amazon.com caused me to order from Barnes & Noble... and subsequently as soon as it shipped from B&N, my Amazon.com order also shipped... hmmm... you evil FO bastards you... content so good I don't even mind keeping the 2nd copy of my book with me at work.

by zlionsfan (not verified) :: Thu, 08/02/2007 - 4:57pm

An extra copy for work? Brilliant!

by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Fri, 08/03/2007 - 11:44pm

6 - A good idea but I'd prefer a bust of Ryan Leaf instead of a statue. In fact, every draft bust should have his own bust made out of the appropriate material. A hollow Mandarich bust filled with steroid pills. A Charles Rogers bust made of hemp supported by a broken collarbone, next to the Todd Marinovich bust trying to smoke it. And Brian Bosworth's bust flat on its back but filled with hot air.

by NemoNC (not verified) :: Sat, 08/04/2007 - 9:53am

Why not bronze Drew himself? That will preserve the most immobile thing on Earth. And while you're at it, put Ryan Leaf's ego under crystal since it's sooooo fragile.