The evolution in fantasy football is almost here.
Instead of just picking the players and seeing how they perform on your virtual team, football fans can actually have a say in a live game.
Colorado Crush, the Fort Collins-based Indoor Football League team, recently became just the second IFL squad to implement Project FANchise technology to allow fans to interact with an actual game and real players.
“It’s going to be a lot harder for fans on Monday morning to blame a play that they called and didn’t work,” joked former Broncos linebacker and Crush executive Al Wilson.
But in truth, the former Bronco loves this new type of football for that very reason. Fans get to be more involved, learn more about what goes into being a game-day manager and ultimately understand all aspects of the sport better.
“I just think this is a great opportunity, and I’m excited to see how fans engage, interact with technology and get a greater appreciation for what it takes to be a coordinator, run the offense, run a defense,” Wilson said. “It’s easy to pick a player for your fantasy team, but now you also have to tell that player what to do.”
More than 9,000 fans recently got involved in choosing the Crush’s new coach, Jose Jefferson, who earned 70 percent of the vote.
Jefferson is an indoor/arena coaching veteran posting an impressive 83-52 coaching record. He was instrumental in the development of former Buffalo Bills running back Fred Jackson who played under Jefferson during his breakout season in 2005 with the Sioux City Bandits.
Jackson compiled 1,770 yards and scored 53 touchdowns that year under Jefferson, who himself had been an all-conference track and field star at the University of South Dakota. Former NFL running back Marvin Jones will join the Crush as the defensive coordinator.
Jefferson is also the owner of the College Gridiron Showcase, an annual all-star game and event for players in all college football divisions.
“I am so excited,” Jefferson said of joining the Crush. “I can’t wait to start building this team together with the fans.”
Although the Crush season doesn’t officially begin until February, the team is having an open Combine on Saturday from 7-10 a.m.
“We’re just going to be working out guys, seeing if there are any potential players out there we want to sign,” said Wilson. “We are absolutely looking to put the best players on the field.”
(*editor’s note: Wilson also promised to be on the lookout for any good offensive linemen the Broncos could use...you know, just in case).
Crush’s season opens Feb. 26 at home versus the Salt Lake City Screaming Eagles, the other IFL team to use the FANchise technology and allow fans to call in plays and make in-game decisions. The 16-game schedule will end in June – making it the perfect football antidote while the Broncos are in the offseason. Check out the team’s website for tickets and info.
“I’m really excited to see what can happen,” Wilson said.