PFT turns 12 today

PFT is getting old.  Which means I’m getting old.

So old that I nearly forgot that today is PFT’s birthday.

Twelve years ago today, the Citynet servers flipped the switch on ProFootballTalk.com.

The content back in those days was sparse.  I’d get up extra early before what used to be my real job, post two or three items based on the modest (i.e., small) network of sources I developed during six months with ESPN.com and a year before that with SportsTalk.com (which went belly up in early 2001 and was bought out by Bristol), along with a set of 15-20 “one-liners,” which were and still are one-sentence links to various news items of interest.

It was a two-hour-a-day hobby that didn’t cost much money.  And at $500 up front and $50 per month, it was cheaper than most other hobbies.  (Especially golf.  And Shrinky-Dinks.)

Over time, the traffic grew.  Which caused me to find other times of the day to post content.  Which caused the traffic to grow.  Which caused me to find other days of the week to post content.  (Initially, we rarely posted much on weekends.)

Eventually (as in, after two or three years), opportunities arose to make money.  Which caused me to put more time into it.  Which resulted in more traffic and in turn more money.

From late through 2001 through 2005, it wasn’t much money.  But the hobby that cost $500 up front and $50 a month at some point in 2004 became a hobby that was generating a modest amount of side income.  Enough to buy a pinball machine.  Which has been sitting there for two years now with a busted flipper.  (Does anyone know a good pinball machine mechanic?)

The change came in early 2006, when a short but significant email arrived from Ted Moon of Sprint.  He loved the site, he wanted to explore a partnership, and within a few weeks a deal was done.

The money increased.  The output increased.  The traffic increased.  What had been a slow-rolling snowball began to gather momentum and size.

From 2006 through 2008, we tried to find another Sprint-style benefactor, fearful that at some point without much warning the Sprint gravy train would go off a cliff.  (Eventually, it did.)  Instead, NBC entered the picture in early 2009.

We’d worked from time to time with Rick Cordella, who joined NBC after NBC bought Rotoworld.  When he was promoted to whatever his title was at the time (he’s now in a much bigger job), he had the opportunity to make a run at bringing PFT under the NBC tent.

I didn’t want to do it.  I feared the idea of being “mainstream,” of forfeiting independence, of losing the ability to say whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, however I wanted.

I made a big deal about not giving up editorial control, assuming (hoping) it would scare Cordella away.  It didn’t.

Still, I was reluctant and I delayed and I waffled and I lollygagged until the launch of free agency, when our servers imploded in what will forever be known in these parts as the Great Hamster Massacre of 2009.  After diverting our traffic to SportingNews.com (I was writing a couple of columns for them per week and they’d made overtures about buying the site) and promptly blowing out multiple servers there, I contacted Cordella.  NBC basically let us crash on their couch for the weekend, where we were able to serve the PFT readers who had gone from ringing the bell to rapping on the frame to banging on the door to trying to kick it in throughout what otherwise are our busiest traffic days of the year.

At that point, my stubbornness subsided, we had a deal in place by late May, we signed it in early June, and the partnership began on July 1.

More than four years later, we’ve now been around 12 total years.  And that wouldn’t be happening without you, the folks who click the links or type in the domain name or open the bookmark.  We know you’re out there, we appreciate that you choose to spend time here, and we’ll never take for granted the fact that, of all the available options, you make time for the site that started as a hobby that cost $50 per month into a business that allowed me to quit practicing law, to spend a lot of time doing something that really isn’t work, to travel to Manhattan every week of the season, to go to every Super Bowl and draft, and to do plenty of other things I never would have been able to do if you hadn’t found this place and kept coming back here.

Plenty of people say “thank you” without really meaning it.  When I consider what’s happened over the last 12 years, I couldn’t mean it more.  Without you, it just doesn’t happen.  And for that I’ll be grateful long after I move on.  Which hopefully won’t happen for a long time.

76 responses to “PFT turns 12 today

  1. I miss the funny pictures. My favorite two were Plaxico Burress as Ralphie from A Christmas Story and Santonio Holmes superimposed over the scene in Rocky II where he’s running with all the kids behind him. The site is still amazingly awesome without those, but still…

  2. Thank you, Mike.
    Don’t let the cranks and complainers get you down. Most of us really appreciate this site and the entertainment it offers (and I would guess that at least a handful of us understand that yes, it really is work)

  3. Heartfelt congratulations to you Florio. I wasn’t around for the beginning but I remember the pre-NBC days and have been with you ever since.

    PFT is must read info for NFL fans. And not must read every morning, it’s requires multiple visits per day.

    So congrats again and here’s to another 12 years. And then that should probably be it. Really, get out before you reach 25 years. No one wants to see it.

  4. Those were the days.

    Congrats on the progress throughout the years; even Rosenthal benefited (hopefully he’s been able to get those lift shoes and earn enough so his wife doesn’t have to work as a fast-food cook still).

    Good job Mike!

  5. I say thank you for the many years of football news that the common fan doesn’t care about. Even though I hate the bias towards Suh, I love most of the other news on here. Keep it going, heres to many more years of filling my head with “useless” knowledge.

  6. Mike,

    Only thing to say is, thanks and that we appreciate your efforts as well. This site had me hooked ever since you and I went back and forth in 2007 over email regarding USF and West Virginia and Kramer’s Calzones. It was the first time a well known site ever responded playfully and I was hooked ever since. Little bit of human goes a long way sometimes…

    Cheers!

  7. It still kills me that a regular guy, whose site I’ve followed for more years than I’m willing to believe, is getting paid to live the dream. I get to see your mug on Sunday night football. Dare to dream big. Congrats Mike!

  8. …shedding a tear. I’ve been here forever too. I’m on here at least 10 times a day throughout the day. Sincerely though thanks for all the laughs too. I know instantly when I’m reading an article you wrote vs. any of the other writers and I appreciate your sense of humor.

  9. You guys rock it, Florio! I check this site first thing in the morning, at lunch, during 2 breaks at work & 3-4 times during the night. On the weekend, at least once every 2 hours I check back.

    Thanks to you & your staff! Keep up the awesome work!

  10. Btw, Florio, PFT’s birthday happens to fall on the New Orleans Saints’ birthday (All Saints Day), which for me is like having my wife’s birthday fall on Christmas.

  11. You had me at pinball…..what game do you have? Check out pinside.com, my other daily time waster besides PFT…there are sure to be some pinball “mechanics” in your area that can help you out.

  12. Happy Birthday PFT! I am a long time junkie, and this site is my salvation throughout the day when I am really supposed to be working. Your stories about the real drama that is the NFL are better than anything else on TV, and your nuggets of information have helped me win my fantasy league the last two years!

    Keep up the good work, and keep living the dream.

  13. Definitely a great site! I was a Pro Football Weekly diehard subscriber for 27 years. When they went under, I was hopeful to find a viable replacement to fill the void. This is the site that has been the void-filler. Yay!

  14. You can order a new flipper cheap on a popular auction site. Then just unscrew the cover of the pin ball machine and replace it.

  15. The concept is genius because it pulls readers back. The site being updated through the day makes the site a “Must see” for avid football/sports fans.

    Although some writers here refuse to put up posts with my moniker attached, I still enjoy the colorful banter among fans of various teams from around the NFL.

    It is rare to find a site that will allow posting without belonging to some cult network of interweb madness. Allowing posters access to threads by only requiring a sign in to this site is a distinct advantage over the competition and this eliminates spamming.

    Anyway, Florio, we don’t often see eye to eye, I have to give you some props on being creative enough to adapt over 12 years and keep a bunch of sports nuts enthused about the sports they love.

  16. Mike I love this site and my wife still rolls her eyes when We see you on PFT and I say “I still have that email Mike sent me thanking me for and email I sent him!” I visit this site more than any other…

    Yeah Friday!

    Myles

  17. I may not always agree with the stories, but the content is always appreciated and respected. Best of continued success to you.

  18. Every day I get yelled at at least 5 times by wife to “pay attention and get off my phone” because of the PFT app. Thank you for that Florio. Keep up the good work brotha!

  19. Thanks Mike, have been an avid reader since 05 or thereabouts, coming to think of it still wondering how i stumbled on this site. Anyhow, its been good.

  20. Hey mike thanks for the great site. I think you need to give away some gerbil T-shirts to fans of the site or even a car would be nice also. but thanks to providing an interesting perspective I come to everyday for several years now.

  21. Mike, I started coming to your site in 2007 and I’ve continued coming here ever since. I used to have a different login back then before NBC and I used to comment periodically. Now it’s WordPress so I’ve got a new login. But, in the interim I’ve always come here to get the latest and you and your guys have all done a great job. So, congratulations on the birthday and I look forward to many more.

    I’m especially glad that you could be “the same guy” as you were in the past in your postings and I hope that never changes. Unrestricted honesty is best. Plus I like your sense of humor. In my opinion, this site is the best NFL-related site on the internet and none compares with how you cover the entire NFL, from players to teams to the draft to the CBA and everything in between. If not for this site, I’m sure I wouldn’t know and understand half of what I know now, thanks to you guys.

    So, thanks again!

  22. Congrats PFT. I stumbled onto your site during the off season after 2004. I remember the rumors about where Randy Moss would be traded to. At one point on your site you mentioned a team that wasn’t being talked about as a trade destination but you were sworn to secrecy by your source. Once the trade was done you admitted it was Oakland. It was then I started telling friends and family about your site. In fact, one friend still says “your boy Florio……” anytime he references one of your posts. That and the Seinfeld references hooked me. Congratulations on the success of your site. Time to go to Buffalo Wild Wings to drink a beer and celebrate. Cheers!!

  23. Its neat to hear the story of how PFT became PFT. I’ve often wondered how/why PFT is able to do a better job at covering the NFL than ESPN.com.

  24. I’ve had this site set as my home page on my work computer and home computer since 2009. I check it constantly throughout the day… Thank you for all the hard work that you have put into this awesome site over the years. You deserve all your success!

  25. Thanks for all of the time spent on PFT. This has been my favorite website for years and still the only website that I have to check at lest 20 times a day. Looking forward to the many years ahead of football news and opinions.

  26. Congratulations, Mike (and gang).

    This is my first stop every day, then several times throughout the day. I keep your app on my phone and my Kindle (hey – get posted in the Kindle Store so I can stop side-loading the thing) busy as the day goes on.

    This is one of two indispensable NFL sites for me (won’t name the other – that’d be gauche).

    You guys keep it up. We appreciate you…

  27. I really appreciate the football aspect of this and have for years, anytime I can share it with someone I do.

    I do wish the political commentary/slant that has taken off like a rocket would stop

  28. I’ve been enjoying PFT since 2002. I can’t imagine life without it now. I go to PFT a gazillion times a day. The Rumor Mill is my favorite. PFT provides more sports news and specifics than all the other sites combined. Happy Birthday PFT! Geaux Saints!

  29. You’re success has led me to dream of my own similar success of writing about football for a living. A few months ago I started my own website to discuss NFL QB’s, past and present. It currently is a hobby that I enjoy very much. Much like you, it would be great for that hobby to become a career. That can only happen when you have many many fans as you have acquired over the years. I have yet to get those fans, hopefully in the near future people will start to see my site, enjoy what I write and become loyal fans. If anyone is interested in what my site is all about, check it out at greatestqb(dot)com. So if I make it big someday, I will have you to thanks along with the fans. Currently, I will just thank you for making this site because it is one of my first stops in the morning and I check in on it many times throughout the day. I do find your work interesting, even if I don’t always agree with you. Good luck in the future.

  30. We wouldn’t keep coming back if you and your staff didn’t make it worth our while. Yours is one of the latest great American success stories. Keep up the good work.

  31. I have some news for you.
    When most of the comments posted by the visitors to your site are blocked, banned, and/or censored…………………………………that means you have signed away all editorial control.
    It doesnt matter how you want to spin it, it still spells HYPOCRIT

  32. Congratulations Mike

    I started reading in 2005. I can’t remember the last day I wasn’t on the site. I am now living in my 3rd NFL market since loggin on the first time.

    I think the site is still the best aggregator of information I’ve seen. I also believe it has made a difference in league areas like safety and in journalism. There are a good number of writers that have gotten much more exposure nationally than they ever could have hoped for had it not been for the links from this site. Although Terry Bradshaw’s mortician might disagree, the site has been at the front end of breaking stories or providing exposure to them.

    There’s no doubt that as the site has matured, some content has changed or disappeared. The Rumors have largely disappeared. I am sure you are privy to plenty of information that would have been featured that no longer is. But that it the nature of growth.

    I would bet that the other sports’ sites are substantially more active than they would have been had they not linked to here.

    Anyway, continued success. I have appreciated it so far.

    I think the site is

  33. Thank you, Florio. Your site has helped me survive the stark NFL off season wastelands for nearly a decade.

  34. You should thank your staff as well..

    Congrats, you guys are the source and I’m glad I came across your site 5 or so years ago.

    You guys are a great community service, we’re indebted 🙂

  35. Congrats !! I have to say that this is the best sports site out there ,,,,, 100 times better than your buddy’s site ,,, MMQB ,, Peter King ,, keep up the good work

  36. Great job guys. I check u several times (yep during work time ) for all the updates and news. Keep up the good work (but don’t let my boss know)

  37. I stumbled upon this site in early 2002 and for several years until it became mainstream, buddies wondered how I knew to pick up so and so in fantasy football a couple of hours before a story broke.

    Thank you, Florio, for the laughs, the daily dose of NFL for a true football junkie, and for several years of fantasy intel that game me an undeserved genius reputation I still enjoy today.

  38. I’ve come here myself faithfully since 2009…I actually get all of my football news here and my espn days have decreased significantly.

    It helps that the layout of the site is “Safe for work” as opposed to the “Look at me NOW” layout of ESPN.

    Anyway, congrats and thanks for the inspiring story!

  39. Congratulations Florio…living the dream…you work hard…you earned it…great sense of humor (why don’t you use/show that on NBC?)…one of the best site on the whole dang dotdotdot internets…now if we could just get the lawyer out of you…LOL

  40. Been with ya’ since 2008, but you have certainly improved the content of this site over the past 3 yrs. prior to that, I looked at this as a pro football tmz, not a legit rumor and information site. Thanks for the changes, you’ve made this my primary NFL site…

  41. You’re more politically correct now under NBC, and I miss Taco Bill (laughed until I cried at the picture of Lord Favre in the Pope Mobile). But I still enjoy the site.

  42. Been a reader for over 8 years now, Mike. It’s been a pleasure helping you raise your “baby” into what it is today. Thanks for sharing stories of Florio Jr, too. God bless & may your baby continue to prosper!

  43. For the most part, I love the site. Sometimes the posters get a little to high school for me, but it’s a good place to get news on most of the teams. If I could change one thing, it would be for the site to email us when our posts are not posted. So many posters get away with some vile comments, and when I make a post with my point of view which is strictly analytical and it’s not posted, it makes me wonder, did I upset the writer of the article? Who is the final editor when it comes to posts? But other than that I always check PFT to get updates.

  44. In 2008 you made an editorial endorsing a presidential candidate. Don’t ever do that again!!

    Glad to hear you are doing well despite most of the country being in a depression.

    Even though you may not allow comments that disagree with you they still are on record inside the NSA’s data collection vaults.

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