"My two older sons were seven and four at the time. They loved Pokemon cards and could talk and play with them for hours. At the same time, they didn't show much interest in baseball cards or football cards - the kinds of things I loved at their age. I watched the way they played with their cards and asked them why they liked Pokemon and not the sport cards. They gave me plenty of feedback.
"I realized traditional sports cards with statistics on the back didn't hold their interest, so I began to think about inventing a game using cards. I didn't want to use playing cards or baseball or football cards. I wanted something in between. At first, I worked on inventing a baseball game for them. After a few unsuccessful weeks, I had an idea one morning about a football game. I sat down and wrote out a bunch of thoughts. During the next few weeks, I kept tinkering with it. I played both the football and baseball games with my oldest son. Then I started showing other people my games and getting feedback. The football game was always better received so I began focusing on improving that game. I made many adjustments to the rules, and then finally after a few big changes, everything fell into place very well. I felt like the missing link had been discovered. Now suddenly, everyone who played had amazing comments about the football card game. I realized it was ready."
So, then how did you go from idea to reality?
"At the time, I had left my career in baseball and was looking for new professional opportunities. I had the generous support of a few key people that helped me launch Quick Count. Luckily, the world's largest playing card company was literally 10 minutes from my house. My brother-in-law designed the cards. I wrote the business plan. A friend handled the legal matters. My wife pitched in with many great marketing ideas - and we were off and running."
Tell us about your background in football.
"I was lucky to work with three future College Football Hall-of-Fame coaches during my time at Louisville, Notre Dame and Virginia. I worked with Howard Schnellenberger, Lou Holtz and George Welsh. After arriving at Notre Dame in 1988, I worked with two different college football programs who rose to No. 1 in the country over a three-year stretch from 1988-1990.
During my final season in 1990, I was put in charge of running a Heisman Trophy campaign for our returning quarterback Shawn Moore. I had a $12,000 budget for the Heisman campaign, but it was definitely an uphill battle. The University had not had a top-10 Heisman finisher in nearly 50 years, the state of Virginia and the ACC had not had a top-5 finisher in decades.
"I came up with some innovative ideas on how to market Shawn. Things fell into place. Our team was ranked No. 1 in the nation for three weeks - a first in school history. Shawn had a great season on the field. Eventually, he was invited to be one of the four finalists for the Heisman. I had the privilege of attending the Heisman Trophy ceremonies in New York. It was one of the most thrilling and satisfying moments of my life - sitting at the Downtown Athletic Club on national TV and seeing Shawn get that recognition."
What happened to you professionally after that?
"I left college football after that season. I had already worked with a national championship team (Notre Dame, 1988), and then had the amazing opportunity to work with another No. 1 nationally-ranked team and attend the Heisman ceremonies. I figured it was time to move on to new challenges.
"So, I started a company called Team One in 1991. My focus shifted to baseball. College baseball coaches and scouts at the time were watching and evaluating high school prospects in a very inneficient manner. Every summer scouts and college baseball coaches would travel from game to game and city to city spending valuable time and money just to see one or a few players at a time.
"I created the first high school baseball "showcases." I scouted and identified the top individual players across the country, and invited them, not teams, to come together for "showcases" - which was another word for a scouting combine. Players would take batting practice, run, go through defensive drills and play games. Now suddenly, Major League teams and colleges could go to one location and see dozens of top prospects in a more efficient setting.
"The first showcase I ever ran attracted over 130 Major League scouts and college coaches. I expanded the idea from one event in 1992 to over 50 more showcase events the next decade. Between 1992 and 2006 I worked with over 5,000 players and every Major League team and major college baseball program. Our players were drafted by Major League teams over 1,900 times during that period. Over 170 of them have already reached the Major Leagues. I look back at that time very fondly. I had a tremendously dedicated staff of workers and coaches and developed many friendships with young players and their families. Each time I watch a Major League game now, I'll see one or sometimes even six of seven of my former players on the field at one time.
"In 2006, I realized that after 14-plus years in baseball, I was ready for a new challenge. I wasn't sure at the time what that something was, I just felt called to try something different."
I guess that "something" is Quick Count. Why do you think Quick Count will gain popularity?"Quick Count is fun. People love to play over and over. They like to build upon their strategies. There is always a different way to try and gain an advantage over your opponent. There is also a certain simplicity to Quick Count - there are no game pieces or batteries. You learn the fundamentals of the game in about 10 minutes. It's a game that rewards strategic thinking.
"At the same time, Quick Count reflects the game of football very well. There are field goals, penalties, passes and runs, and big plays and small plays. Each time through the deck is one quarter, so there is a built-in type of game clock - without really using a clock. People love how portable Quick Count is. You can take it to parties, tailgating or play it with friends while watching football on TV. You can take it on a bus or in the car. It's a terrific Holiday or birthday present. Just think how many people you know love sports and love to play cards. Quick Count is the best way for someone to enjoy football and playing cards all at once."