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Fan Controlled Football League a hidden spring gem

The Fan Controlled Football League is a hidden gem amidst the revolving door of spring football leagues.

I am a person who views Internet culture as an annoyance at best and, at worst, a blight upon our shores. When I heard there was an indoor football league with NFT-inspired logos, a Twitch stream, and a team called Bored Ape FC (named after a highly successful collection of NFTs), I assumed the experience of said league would be a waking nightmare.

Two weeks later, I have two apps on my phone, and I am screaming to my friends about “hype trains” and “leveling up.” How did the Fan Controlled Football League (FCF) get a cynical, cantankerous old coot like me to hop aboard the Hype Train? They made it ridiculous, and more importantly, they made it fun.

Attempting to explain all the nuance and gimmicks of the Fan Controlled Football League would take a considerable amount of time, these are the basics:

  • Seven players on each side play on a 50-yard field
  • Games are played in two halves with a running clock
  • There is no kicking
  • Questionable calls are reviewed by fans
  • All offensive plays are called via an app BY THE FANS

You read that correctly. The fans call all the offensive plays with an app. An algorithm generates the most appropriate plays for the situation and presents four options. Users select which play they want to run, and the play with the most votes is signaled to the players and executed. It is Madden (or Tecmo Bowl for more mature readers) come to life.

I was skeptical about how long this amalgamation of football, technology, and video games would hold my attention. Sure, it would be neat to call a play or two but functionally, I was watching a seven-on-seven drill being played on a 50-yard field by people I have never heard of wearing jerseys that look like they were designed through a kaleidoscope.

As it turned out, my interest would last through all four games from Atlanta’s Pullman Yards. The first contest saw The Beasts, owned in part by former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, amass a 16-point lead over Steve Aoki’s 8oki (yes, that is a team name) with only 38 seconds left to play. Thanks to the league’s “Come Back Rule” and mismanagement of “Power Ups,” the game went to overtime, and 8oki left with the victory, and I was left with a new guilty pleasure.

The next three games were all extremely close and, in some fashion or another, ridiculous and fun. By the time the nightcap rolled around, I wasn’t even using the app. I was just watching NFL Hall of Famers catch passes from former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant.

Bryant was signed seemingly off the street the day of the game to fill in for Johnny Manziel who missed the game due to family issues. Bryant scored four touchdowns for the Zappers (again, yes, that is a team name) albeit in a losing effort.

I am not predicting that this is the future of football. I am not even predicting that this league will succeed. I am saying that it grabbed my interest, and that, in and of itself is an accomplishment. I was watching the game with a group of 30-somethings but couldn’t help thinking that my phone-obsessed 7- and 17-year-olds might also enjoy this.

Is it great football? Nope.

Do the results matter? Not to 99% of the people watching.

Will I be in Pullman Yards the first time that I get a chance? I absolutely will.

There was so much going on that I haven’t even mentioned that the league holds a draft every Wednesday and the celebrity charity game that saw Miami Dolphin Tyreek Hill intercept New Orleans Saint Jameis Winston.

The FCF is guilt-free football calories. It’s the checkout aisle impulse buy at the sports supermarket. Mangia! Mangia! Mangia! Eat, my children. Eat!

Fan Controlled Football games air are on the FCF app and Twitch channel (https://www.twitch.tv/fcf) each Saturday at 1 p.m. EDT through May 28.

What did we get wrong? Tell us on Twitter at @TTFfootball or on Instagram at @throwtheflag.

Get year-round college football commentary from the Throw The Flag podcast. Listen for free on Spotify and most Fridays at 4:30 p.m. on the Bullpen with TonyMac, 730AM or 103.9FM on the UMP.

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