PowerHouse Founder Chris Barry has been an NFL nerd for decades. As coverage of the NFL generally, the NFL Draft, and events like the Senior Bowl and Scouting Combine became more and more sophisticated, his condition worsened.
Passionate football fans are an opinionated bunch, and events like Free Agency and the NFL Draft are fertile ground for spirited debate (just ask former Pro Football Weekly Draft Analyst Nolan Narwocki, whose scathingly negative scouting report on Cam Newton in 2011 spread like wildfire on the internet.)
But one problem with all of these opinions – from professional analysts like Mike Mayock, to passionate amateur bloggers, to serious NFL fans – is that there was little to no accountability over time (of course, for NFL personnel executives, accountability is an ever-present force of nature.) Anyone could say anything they wanted, sprinkle in a bunch of jargon, and sound like they knew what they were talking about.
Coverage started with the college All-Star games and built to a crescendo until the Draft arrived. Then, on Monday morning, the papers all printed their morning-after letter grades” of how each team did, months before any of the players even stepped onto the field.
We liken the NFL Draft to Mardi Gras. There's a great big buildup to this fantastic party and then everyone sweeps up the next morning and forgets about it until the whole process starts again next winter. There is never any follow-up on what really happened and how picks really turned out.
This lack of follow-up greatly frustrated Chris, who is your standard, highly-opinionated NFL fan. Back in February of 1996, he wanted some way to measure his opinions and gauge how he would do if an NFL team were foolish enough to hire him as their GM.
Chris started randomly choosing a slot in the Draft, literally picking a number out of a hat for the first year or two.
When his slot came up during the live Draft, he could pick any player still available in the real Draft. He simply recorded the names and built a list.
This had nothing to do with predicting who would be drafted when. This was not an effort to replicate the successes and failures of the real GMs.
Rather, the goal was to draft good players, regardless of where they went in the real NFL Draft. And it quickly evolved into a full roster management simulation that would ultimately become iGMTM. Why not also simulate an expansion draft (where only bench players are available,) free agency, the supplemental draft, and managing the salary cap?
Chris ran a team on an Excel spreadsheet, following these rules, for 15 years, for no other reason than to entertain himself (we told you he was a football nerd!)
With advances in web technology, and the explosive growth in both fantasy football and the events of the NFL’s off-season, it occurred to Chris that the time might be right to bring the iGMTM game to the internet, so that any NFL fan could enjoy it.
PowerHouse was born. We raised some money and began web development in December of 2010. By mid-2011, we had a game that actually worked something like 30% of the time.
Anyone who was around for the Live Draft in 2012 will remember how glitchy our technology was, but by 2013, with a handful of exceptions, the technology was pretty stable, and today our members are realizing their dream (and ours) of the most realistic virtual NFL GM experience ever conceived.
We have a lot left to do to finish the job and change the landscape of sports simulations forever.
We hope you'll be part of our story as we grow for many years to come.
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