Jeff Fitzgerald will get a chance to play in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week. That’s more than the Peyton Manning-less Indianapolis Colts are likely to be able to say.
He’s going to the national tournament after defeating Dan Diering of Maryland Heights, 19-6, in the St. Louis area tournament final game Saturday at the Maryland Heights White Castle on Dorsett Road.
Now, he’ll travel to Indianapolis to play winners of tournaments in Chicago, New York, Cleveland, Minneapolis and other cities.
“I was really surprised I won,” said Fitzgerald. “It was the first time I’d ever played the game.
He said he does plan to go to Indianapolis on Jan. 31 for the finals and a shot at $2,500, a $500 White Castle gift card for 25 years. He registered online, but Diering noticed the event while working across the street at O'Reilly's Auto Parts.
“I work across the street and I saw the tent and came over to see what was going on,” Diering said.
“I played the paper game in grade school (Parkwood Elementary), but we never even kept track of the score,” Diering said.
He came away with a $50 White Castle gift certificate and an NFFL game board.
All of the players were rookies, learning the game as they went along.
Linda Fletcher, of Overland, and James Easley, of Bellefontaine Neighbors, just happened to stop by for lunch, and stopped to participate. All players received a $10 gift certificate to White Castle.
“I remember playing in school when we weren’t supposed to be playing,” Easley said.
Ten players took part in the St. Louis tournament at the Maryland Heights White Castle, 12025 Dorsett Road Saturday. But don’t let the St. Louis tournament’s size fool you.
“It’s a much bigger tournament in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana where we’re based,” said NFFL game inventor Spud Alford, of Columbus, GA. The tournament in his hometown drew 256 players, he said.
“I invented the game a long time ago,” said Alford, CEO of Zelosport.
It’s based on the game kids have played for years with the “football” formed by folding paper in a triangle. Alford developed a way to play defense and a “slider—appropriate for a White Castle-sponsored event—to
“Who know where finger football started,” Alford said. “Guys our age in grade schools or junior highs just started playing. Guys about 65 or older didn’t play it. It was like a national awareness. All at one time kids started playing.”
Instead of a paper football, they use a foam rubber football. The defense rolls dice to determine where the offense has to flick the slider to get a first down. Players can kick field goals or extra points the old-fashioned way—the finger flick—or go for two points.