Tress Way loved two things about the Associated Press’s list of the top 100 college football programs of all-time, which the Redskins punter came across on Twitter last August: His alma mater, Oklahoma, was No. 2 (and ranked ahead of Texas), and the order was determined by a formula, not one writer’s opinion.
“You could not argue it,” said Way, who began quizzing teammates, coaches and staffers at Redskins training camp in Richmond about the list and kept track of who could name the top 10 programs in the fewest number of guesses. Everyone wanted a turn, and each new attempt attracted an audience. The excitement over this simple off-field diversion ultimately inspired Way to create What’s Your Bid, a team trivia game that combines elements of “Family Feud,” Trivial Pursuit and spades. A Kickstarter campaign to fund the project launches July 31.
“I wasn’t surprised when he told me he created this, because even back in college he said one of his dreams was to create a board game,” said former Oklahoma center Ben Habern, who roomed with Way for two years in Norman. “It was a passion of his and I knew at some point he would find the time to put something like this together.”
Habern, the marketing and strategic partnerships coordinator for the College Football Playoff, is one of three friends from Oklahoma who agreed to help Way get What’s Your Bid — the debut product from Way Fun Games LLC — off the ground over the last few months.
The genesis of the idea came a year ago, when Colt McCoy and then-quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh needed only 11 guesses to name the AP’s all-time top 10 college football programs. Nick Sundberg, Coach Jay Gruden and Redskins President Bruce Allen were among the group who gave two incorrect answers and tied for second place in the friendly competition, after which one coach asked Way if he had any other lists handy.
“No, but one of the good things about being a punter is that while you guys are in meetings, I’ll come up with some more tonight,” Way replied.
And he did. Way scribbled topics on his Omni Richmond Hotel notepad and helped satisfy the team’s trivia craving for the remainder of camp while serving as the Redskins’ resident Alex Trebek. By the start of the regular season, trivia had become as popular an activity among players as ping-pong, with questions ranging from the top-grossing Leonardo DiCaprio films to past Super Bowl winners and the 13 original American colonies.
“I got to a point where I probably had three or four hundred topics in one week,” Way said. “We’d sit there in the video room once everything was done, after all of our meetings, and we’d play for an hour. We split into teams and it started growing as more and more people wanted to play, to the point where we started making up rules. I kind of added in there, like in spades with a partner, a bidding aspect, where you bid on how many answers you’re going to get. If you don’t get that bid, you lose your bid to the other team.”
The Redskins’ most dedicated team trivia players last season included Way and fellow specialists Sundberg and Dustin Hopkins, as well as McCoy, Kirk Cousins, Will Blackmon, Quinton Dunbar, Kory Lichtensteiger, John Sullivan, Derek Carrier and video coordinator Mike Bracken. Will Compton occasionally dropped in and provided “some of the funniest answers,” according to Way, while Sundberg was “without a doubt” the team’s trivia MVP. Cousins proved to be a fount of mostly useless information, too.
“Kirk gets in a little bit of trouble because he always thinks he knows more than he does,” Way said. “If there are eight answers, he’ll bid eight, rattle off six answers really quickly and then he’s like, ‘Oh no, I overbid.’ He’s very good though. Kirk is very good in all categories.”
When Way first mentioned the game to his wife, Brianna, and read her a sample question early last season, she scoffed.
“See, this is why I hate trivia,” the former two-sport star at Oklahoma said, “because I never know the answers.”
It was at that point that Way decided to create a trivia game that everyone would enjoy, even people who were convinced they despised trivia. The nascent version of the game Way played with teammates was heavy on questions related to sports, history and movies. The refined version would feature five categories: Sports & Entertainment, Science & Animals, Around the World & History, Statistics (General Knowledge) and Food & Drink. The key to developing a more accessible trivia game, Way decided, was finding questions with at least a couple of answers that most people know.
Way registered for an account on Statista, an online database of statistics and facts, and came up with about 50 questions per category. He printed the questions off on corresponding color-coded pieces of paper and laminated them. Way then wrapped the question cards with rubber bands, placed them in Nike shoe boxes and mailed them along with the basic rules to his little brother and a couple of friends. Their reaction to his “janky-looking” early prototype convinced him he had something.
“It blew up,” Way said. “I’m getting pictures from my friends and family of people sitting around a dining room table playing this game, ranting and raving about how much fun it is.”
Way’s agent introduced him to a trademark and copyright lawyer just before Christmas and Way found a manufacturer to produce a non-janky-looking prototype with 100 questions per category. It’s no accident that orange — burnt, or otherwise — isn’t one of the colors featured in a game developed by four former Sooners.
Way has loved board games and trivia for as long as he can remember. As a kid, he played everything from Monopoly to interactive games such as Catchphrase and Scene It. Wahoo, a Parcheesi-like game played with marbles on a wooden board, remains a staple of Way family gatherings. Way bonded with teammates, including Habern, over board games and trivia in college, and the Sooners would spend hours watching “Family Feud” before practice.
“It was like a religion,” Habern said. “We watched it every day. It was mind-boggling how much we were into the show. We’d yell out answers and freak out if someone made a stupid guess or something like that.”
As in “Family Feud,” success in What’s Your Bid depends on every member of the team contributing. For each question, teams have 30 seconds to decide how many poker chips to bid, depending on how many answers they think they can guess correctly while alternating answers. If a team gives an incorrect answer or fails to reach its bid, the chips go to the other team. The first team to 30 chips wins.
Once the Kickstarter campaign launches, Way will have one month to raise roughly $50,000 to fund the project. Those interested in supporting the campaign may pledge as little as $5. (Update: The Kickstarter campaign goal is $28,000.)
“Tress’s goal is to make this the most popular and fun trivia game ever, which is obviously a very lofty goal, but it’s something we’ll shoot for,” said Habern, who has handled most of the marketing for the game to date.
“The hardest challenge is getting it in people’s hands,” Way said. “It’s addicting. The only thing better than trivia is more trivia.”
And the only thing better than making one board game, apparently, is making a second board game. What’s Your Bid may not even be the most popular player-created board game in the Redskins’ locker room come training camp.
“I actually came up with another game this offseason because I’m a punter and I have too much time on my hands,” said Way, who described his latest creation, High Noon, as an Old West-themed strategy game with elements of poker. Way said he plans to get started on the design process for High Noon sometime this season. Ping-pong was so 2016.
The following questions are from What’s Your Bid. Test your own knowledge individually or with friends and then scroll down for the answers.
Food & Drink
Sports & Entertainment
Around the World & History
Science & Animals