The NFL essentially started on the fender of a car in Canton, OH in 1920. The SUFFL also had its start on a wheeled vehicle - a bicycle.
In 1994, Matt Rumbaugh and Ric Haupt were travelling throughout Germany as part of a summer project with Campus Crusade for Christ. One day they had a very silly discussion about who among their friends at Syracuse University would play what position on a football team. (Matt thought he’d be a great free safety - he could keep the YAC down on opposing wide receivers). That discussion quickly evaporated into how fun it would be to have that group of guys play fantasy football together. Ric had been involved in a similar league at Penn State for years. Both agreed it would be a good way for the fellas to keep in touch and an excellent creative outlet.
That year, nothing else happened. Ric played that year with his Penn St. buddies while his roommates Matt and Raj Patel supported him. Matt and Raj got a vicarious thrill from watching Ric’s fortunes rise and fall each week with the likes of Barry Sanders and Joe Montana. At one point in the season, Matt and Ric actually hugged when Montana (then with the Chiefs) threw a game winning touchdown in overtime to beat Elway and the Broncos on Monday Night Football. Even more important than the victory, the TD gained Ric an extra 15 points in the standings as it put Montana over 300 yards for the game. Such is the obsession for the fantasy football player.
1995 is when things really got cooking. Matt and Ric, by then in Virginia and California respectively, corresponded, remembering their conversation from the previous summer. They decided to poll their friends, by then spread out all over the country and see who was interested in starting a league. The response was favorable. Ric picked a draft date, sent out a list of rules and things got started. In its inaugural season, the SUFFL included Matt, Ric, Raj, Gar Ryness, Eric Fialkoff, John Vampatella (henceforth known as “Vamp”), and Darryl Beckerleg. Matt had the first pick in the draft and selected Steve Young. He cruised to an early lead, but was quickly overcome when several key players got injured. He nonetheless made a brilliant comeback by stockpiling his roster with Indianapolis Colts. When the Colts made a brilliant play-off run, Matt racked up points. Gar got even more, though, and took home the first SUFFL championship.
In 1996, the SUFFL underwent some adjustments. First, a new commissioner had to be selected. To concentrate on finishing his seminary degree, Ric resigned from the league. Matt assumed the commissionership and things progressed. The rules were adjusted such that teams fielded complete rosters each week rather than mess with the complications of byes at each position. Chaos was thus avoided and cheers resounded. New owners that year included Andy McHargue, Dave Kern, and Chris York. Raj started the season the hottest, but made a critical error by trading Drew Bledsoe to Vamp for Warren Moon. Bledsoe got hot and took the Patriots to the Super Bowl, Moon got hurt and did squat. Vamp won the championship, much to the chagrin of his wife.
1997 saw more changes. First, the tight end position was eliminated. Teams could still draft players like Shannon Sharpe or Ben Coates, but they had to play them as receivers instead of in a separate position. This eliminated a couple rounds of the draft and also some mismatches like having Mark Bruener as your tight end while someone else has Wesley Walls. More cheers. There was also a new commissioner that year. Raj, since he had an 800 number at work and was easily gotten ahold of became the commissioner and Andy became the league’s first official statistician and kept the weekly score. New members were Justin Robinson, Jim Goodwin, Kevin Kriesel and Brian Madeira. Andy brilliantly gave the ball to Terrell Davis all season and rode him to a championship.
1998 was a strange, but exciting year for the SUFFL. Matt resumed the commissioner’s chair so Raj could work on his MBA. Raj assumed the newly created position of director of league communications. The official league web page was launched, so that owners could easily keep track of critical information right at their desktops. The site also laid the foundation for the league staff to further their goal of developing an actual fan base for the league. A new scoring system was also introduced. Rather than keep a simple running total, as in previous years, the way to win became collecting power rating points. Depending on how many points each team scored each week, they were assigned a rating value. If you came in first for the week, you got 13 points. Second place earned 12, etc. Matt had the first pick again and selected Brett Favre. No offense to Brett, but what a moron Matt was! Terrell was obviously the pick to make and he blew it. Of course, Dave’s judgment could also be questioned as he drafted him, but then traded him for Anthony Johnson! The first-ever SUFFL co-owned franchise “Raj/John”,(a partnership between Raj and Vamp), scooped up Davis, paired him with rookie Randy Moss, and cruised to the SUFFL championship, making Vamp the first multiple SUFFL winner. The two were the first recipients of the brand-new SUFFL trophy (yet to be named) and had their names engraved along with all the other past winners. Dan Card joined the league that year.
1999 caught the league by surprise. The dominant players were a running back who most thought wouldn't even have a job (Stephen Davis) and a Quarterback who, just months before had been bagging groceries. Dan Card and the John/Raj juggernaut jumped out front early, but little did they know what was coming. The tandem of Justin Robinson and Kevin Kriesel quietly conducted a few trades that gave them rights to the first three picks of the supplemental draft. They used those picks to take Kurt Warner, Stephen Davis and the St. Louis defense. Thus began one of the most impressive SUFFL runs of all time. JR/KK came roaring back and eclipsed John/Raj just in time to secure the Haupt trophy during the playoffs. League stat guru Andy McHargue notes that had he not been in China for part of the season, he is confident he would have won. Others are not so sure, but since Andy controls the scoring, they say nothing for fear of offending him.
At this point, the writer is forced to abandon any sense of humility. Matt made a bold move to draft Daunte Culpepper in the fifth round. Eat your heart out, fellow SUFFLians. The 2000 SUFFL campaign might have been the most compelling ever. No real leader emerged at the beginning of the season, although the Jokers' Wild (oh yeah...I forgot to mention that nicknames were adopted this year and that Ric came back) floated at the top of the standings for most weeks. A finger injury to Kurt Warner prevented the Jokers from getting too far out in front and a voodoo doll-like "Down with Jokers" campaign led by Jim Goodwin (Ha Ha Raja) surely added to their downfall. At the time of the trade deadline, as many as 5 teams held a legitimate shot to claim the plaque. Matt did some deadline trading to secure Marshall Faulk from Sweep the Leg Johnnie (Justin/Kevin) and Faulk immediately broke off three games in a row where he scored more than 50 points. A couple Daunte Culpepper playoff games later and the commissioner won his first title. Now, actually acquiring the plaque is a different story altogether, but that tale will have to be recounted elsewhere.
And so we come to 2001. Hard to believe we've made it this far. Andy and Raj did SUFFL Draft II on some payphone out in the middle of nowhere. Today, the draft is live on the World Wide Web, owners are talking trade via cellphone and our geographical get-togethers are the primary highlight of any Suffl'ian's year.
The 2001 Draft was spectacular, except for one regard. Owners flocked to the York estate in Connecticut eager for their first wearing of genuine SUFFL wear. Alas, it was not to be. But after talking Darryl out of driving to New Hampshire and forcibly taking the shirts out of Dan's car, the draft proceeded as normal, highlighted by the first-ever use of keepers. Holdovers from 2000 included Marshall Faulk to the Buckle and Edgerrin James to Naptime.
The season started well as Naptime jumped to an early lead. Midway through the season, four teams appeared viable for serious SUFFL contention: Sweep the Leg Johnny, Naptime, Road Runners (see: Jokers Wild) and defending champion Daniel Snyders Belt Buckle. Ric made a brilliant pick up to get Tom Brady from the Patriots, a move that came in handy during New England's surprising run to the Super Bowl. Matt made some deft maneuvers to get Comeback Kid Kordell Stewart and rose steadily with the MVP level performance of Faulk. Andy pawned the Edge off to Lisa Holbrook in hopes of stocking up for a late-season run. But a string of last place finishes meant lights out for Naptime. Seemingly out of the loop, Sweep conducted a quiet trade that turned out to be a difference maker. Packaging Randy Moss to Lisa for among others, Antonio Freeman, JR and KK had just enough to get a blaze of points during the first two weeks of playoff contests, and then held off Road Runners and the Buckle in the closest finish in SUFFL history. Congratulations to two-time champs, Sweep the Leg Johnnie.
2002 proved to be a banner year for SUFFL. The draft extravaganza ranked among the all-time best, ably hosted by defending co-champion Justin Robinson at his swank bachelor pad in LA. Not only were we graced on the West Coast with the presence of Scott Oldfield and family, but we all donned SUFFL T-shirts!! And we welcomed Shane Dixon into our league to partner with Dave Kern under the moniker Tucker, Sit! Suitably attired, the draft started with a bang as Ha Ha Raja owner Jim Goodwin completed a nifty deal with PNN that netted him Kurt Warner to stand alongside first overall pick Marshall Faulk. PNN used the boatload of draft picks from HaHa to mount an early lead, but Ha Ha, Sweep the Leg and Daniel Snyder's Belt Buckle all stayed in contention, with the Gymrats and even Tucker staying in shouting distance. Mr. Goodwin used a brilliant series of trades to acquire at various times Rich Gannon, Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens and Eddie George to position himself for the plaque. The defending champs would not go down easy, though. Riding the arm of Brad Johnson and the ferocious Tampa Bay defense, they forced the outcome to be decided at the Super Bowl for the first time since SUFFL Year I. Tampa Bay, of course, crushed Oakland and Justin and Kevin might have had a chance to pull off a SUFFL upset. But Rich Gannon gave Ha Ha just enough to squeak by and Jim Goodwin thus sees his name go on the Haupt Plaque for the first time.
2003 was an epic year for SUFFL. First, there was simply the greatest draft
extravaganza in fantasy football history. We all assembled in New York City,
got lost in Harlem, found our way to Yankee Stadium and took in some quality
baseball. From there, Chris and Kevin picked us up in a passenger van and we
began the glorious voyage to Maine. Ah, Maine. Along the way, we learned that
Connecticut lacks roadside restaurants. We also had a fabulous discussion about
throwback jerseys. (Major props to JR for coming up with Randall Cunningham
In Maine, we played some golf, took advantage of the lake, played some crazy Madden, and speculated on the upcoming draft. It was awesome.
(Pausing while reflecting on the glory of the moment.)
(Pausing again. It was that big a deal.)
And then we went to Camp Beckerleg in suburban Boston. And except for our brothers Scott and Anthony, every single SUFFL'er was in the room to draft. I think that statement speaks for itself.
Thus ended the competitive portion of the season. Ric's Road Runner franchise took the lead early and never let up. He drafted a stellar team (keeping Priest Holmes), managed it nearly perfectly, and stomped us all into the ground. Road Runner 2003 will go down as the greatest squad in SUFFL history. John and Raj feverishly worked to get PNN into contention, but it was for naught. History will note this season, though, as the year Lisa Holbrook returned to (relative) competitive plausibility, placing third--that team's highest finish in four years.
In 2004, hell froze over. Well, not quite, but close. The franchise formerly known as Tucker Sit (now called Lego My Bengal) overcame their history of underperformance to race into first place behind the strong running of Priest Holmes and Tiki Barber and the other worldly play of Terrell Owens. Sitting in the middle of the pack, Gar decided to play a hunch and flipped a ton of players to get Peyton Manning. Manning proceeded to set the NFL record for TD passes in a season with 49. Gar needed every one of them, too. While he roared back from the back to catch Lego, PNN and Road Runner had nice runs as well. Entering the Super Bowl, it was anyone’s plaque to win. Gar was protected, having the New England defense and a few key Eagles. Lego My Bengal had Donovan McNabb at QB, but it wasn’t enough. Gar’s team, Lando Calrissian's Charisma (yes, we’re all praying for a last place finish so we can rename that team) held it together and won the title by a single point.
Dr. Matthew B. Rumbaugh, SUFFL Co-founder, Official Historian, and Commissioner
last updated June 15, 2005