User Interview: Gencoimports

Q&A with noted SimLeague Football user Gencoimports

Are you ready for some football? Well, having recently completed the season, many are still recovering from a Super Bowl hangover and are content to wait six months for the next kickoff. However, the true fan will wish the season never ended and that every Sunday were as exciting as an NFL Sunday. Not to whet the appetite too much, but to appease those true fans, WhatIfSports.com presents a new, improved and completely revamped version (2.0) of its NFL SimLeagues.

While NFL teams are looking for superstars and diamonds in the rough through free agency and the draft, NFL SimLeagues allow users to do that and more. Build and draft a team of All-Time greats and immediately pit them against other users for the ultimate, competitive football fix. Recently, WhatIfSports.com contacted one of its best and most insightful NFL SimLeagues users, Gencoimports, to discuss (among other topics) version 2.0, fatigue settings, Godfather parties, Lee Roy Selmon, Clubber Lang, Vito Corleone and the weather in Florida.

WIS

Thanks for taking the time out to meet with us.

Gencoimports

Glad to be here.

WIS

Who is Gencoimports?

Gencoimports

Gencoimports is a 39-year-old developer for a web site in Tampa, Florida. Before that, I was a history major at the University of South Florida and a newspaper reporter and editor. As a reporter, I covered sports and some features looking back at historical events (mainly World War II battles). As many NFL SimLeague football owners are aware, Gencoimports is also very passionate about movies. I was born in the Tampa Bay area and have lived here most of my life.

WIS

What is the story behind user name?

Gencoimports

Genco Imports was the front business for the Corleone crime organization in The Godfather films, the first two being far and away my favorite two movies of all time. The Genco name took many forms, including The Genco Olive Oil Co. and Genco Land Co. The Godfather Vito Corleone, who was a modest man, named his front businesses after his original war-time consiglieri Genco Abbandando.

WIS

How did you find out about WhatIfSports.com and NFL SimLeagues?

Gencoimports

Three years ago (this month in fact) I was driving to a Godfather party when ESPN radio was doing a interview segment about WIS. Seriously. No, I am not Italian.

WIS

What dynasty or simleagues games have you played?

Gencoimports

To this point, I have only played NFL Sim Leagues. At some point, I may dive into the NBA SimLeagues and the Gridiron dynasty. I have only played the other sports in the exhibition leagues.

WIS

Which do you prefer and why?

Gencoimports

Football has always been my favorite sport. In the late 70s/early 80s, I played some APBA Football board games and even rewrote a football simulation written in BASIC. (I still have a listing of that ancient program stored away somewhere.) While I am a fan of baseball, basketball and hockey, they do not bring me anywhere near the passion of football - the one sport that resembles a chess match or a military conflict.

WIS

Who are your favorite players of all-time?

Gencoimports

My favorite player of all-time is Magic Johnson of the Lakers. Julius Erving once said Johnson was the only player who could dominate a game and only take 3 shots. In the NFL, I always appreciated Derrick Brooks and John Lynch, especially during the Tampa Bay Bucs' 10-year run as one of the NFL's top defenses.

WIS

Build your dream football team.

Gencoimports

A typical Genco team is built around a strong running game and defense, while still maintaining some balance.

On defense, I would probably start out with the 2002 Tampa Bay Bucs and probably throw Hall of Fame DE Lee Roy Selmon (1977-1985) into the mix. This was a team with a lot of speed but little bulk, so I would probably want to acquire some monster to clog up the middle such as a Ted Washington or a Gilbert Brown in their prime. Mainly to deal with the run oriented teams.

On the offensive side, I would lean towards a power running game with backs like Jim Brown, John Riggins, and Walter Payton running behind a strong run blocking line like the Bronco lines of the late 90s. Wide Receivers like Cliff Branch and Paul Warfield who made their living off long passes. A TE like Jimmie Giles who could block and go deep. Most importantly, a QB like Johnny Unitas who loved to go deep. From what I know of Unitas, he was not just a great passer; he was a great quarterback. There are too many passers today who are not quarterbacks.

WIS

What are your favorite teams of all time?

Gencoimports

The Bucs. A friend on mine called me the very second Ronde Barber picked off Donovan McNabb and ran back the 92-yard interception return in the 2002 NFC Championship game. He had to have his hearing checked, I was screaming so loud into the phone. 27 years of frustration gone forever.

The Lakers are my favorite team in the NBA, Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL. I used to be a Yankees fan when I was a kid, but the way that they try and outspend everyone makes the current state of baseball a joke.

WIS

Which coaches, teams or players, past or present, do you draw on for inspiration?

Gencoimports

If I want inspiration from sports, I look to the Rocky movies. If I am tired or unmotivated but need to get something done anyway, I picture Apollo Creed yelling at me "There is no tommorrow!" If I am on a roll, I become Clubber Lang. "Got alota more! Alota more! Alota more!"

WIS

Did you play any sports growing up?

Gencoimports

Not really, some intramural sports buts that's all. I have become more of a gym rat and athletically inclined in the last 3-4 years.

WIS

As a fan of football, what are your thoughts on the current state of the game?

Gencoimports

The NFL product has been watered down since Paul Tagliabue became commissioner. I remember shortly after he first took over he was bragging how the length of the game was shortened when they extended the clock between plays to 45 seconds and started running the game clock after most out of bounds plays. He was happy that "we only lost 6 plays". Well, I want those 6 plays back! The way the 5-yard illegal contact was called this past year was ridiculous. Either enforce it all the time or don't enforce it at all!

WIS

You are widely considered one of the best NFL SimLeagues owners. Talk about your greatest WIS moment.

Gencoimports

It's so hard to pick one. The first thing that pops into my head is winning a championship after a 0-5 start and squeaking into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed at 9-7. That was more satisfying than going undefeated or routing one of my rivals in a championship game. Another great moment was creating a team in an open league and having several owners in that league ask me to leave because they felt they did not have a chance. A couple of years ago, that happened a lot. Things have got a lot tougher since then and that's a good thing.

WIS

At this point, NFL SimLeagues are not as popular as some of our other sports. What can you tell users who may be unfamiliar with the game about the merits of SimLeague football?

Gencoimports

First of all, it's a fun game to play. I have seen every version of the game and the overall product has improved immensely. Over time, it has gotten much harder to beat your opponent by finding a glitch in the program. I remember one of the early versions of the sim, it was very easy to get a WR with a high running average (such as the 1982 James Lofton) into running 15 times for 200 yards in one game. That glitch has long been taken care of.

WIS

What are your thoughts on the new NFL 2.0 version of SimLeagues?

Gencoimports

Overall, it is an improvement over the previous version. I feel some things need some work and it will continue to improve in the coming weeks and months. There were some bugs early on but most of them have been fixed.

WIS

What changes were the made for the better?

Gencoimports

The red zone and drive ratings on defense and the durability and stamina ratings on offense are major improvements. The play by play is much more realistic. It feels more like reading an NFL play by play on NFL.com. Glitch players such as the 1987 Bo Jackson or the 1960 Jack Spikes are more likely to get injured and less likely to produce unrealistic stats compared to what they did in real life.

WIS

Any for the worse?

Gencoimports

I want to have absolute control, or at least more control, over when to kick a FG and when to go for it on 4th down and the settings are not adequate for this. I'd like to see more two minute offense settings. I understand that these issues are going to be addressed soon. I also want more options on defense including blitzing and more red zone options. I'd also like to see running WR stats better reflect what they did in real life on those occasions when they do run.

WIS

Do you like the new look and feel of the site(s) main and with the NFL sim?

Gencoimports

It's fine. My only complaint is not seeing your opponent's active roster directly on the coaches' page. Right now you have to click and hunt for it. But that is a minor issue.

WIS

How accurate do you believe the salaries capture player/group worth

Gencoimports

I think some of the more expensive QB salaries could come down a bit, but other than that the salaries are pretty reasonable.

WIS

Having played primarily in football, do you prefer open or theme leagues? If theme, which types of themes are your favorite and why?

Gencoimports

I played open leagues mostly for years but now I prefer theme leagues. I prefer any kind of theme league with restricts owners from just drafting anyone they want and everyone having the same players.

WIS

Have you founded any theme leagues? If so, please talk about that process and any of the quirks that may come along with it.

Gencoimports

Yes, I have founded a number of theme leagues. With the added rules, it is often that an owner will make a mistake when drafting a team and then you have to get or force him to return to the draft center and fix the mistake. It can slow down the league-filling process. Getting the word out for the league can be tough when some owners do not visit the Theme League Forums on a regular basis. So the leagues take longer to fill, but most of them are worth the wait.

WIS

You have success with both versions and have helped greatly with the redesign of our football simulation engine. With today's SimEngine, how do you approach drafting players?

Gencoimports

I don't get attached to names. I look at numbers and try and maintain balance. That's what all the strong owners do.

WIS

Are there any players in specific that you like to put on your teams?

Gencoimports

The '63 Jim Brown is probably the greatest RB of all time and its hard not to get him on a team. Also the '92 Steve Young, an accurate QB and very mobile to boot.

WIS

Do you have any favorite players who have greatly overachieved from any of your teams?

Gencoimports

Not in this version of the sim; at least so far. In previous versions there were a lot of players - the '76 Don Calhoun, the '82 James Lofton, the '85 Phillip Epps, the '87 Bo Jackson, the '97 Boomer Esiason (among others) all greatly overachieved.

WIS

Have any players disappointed you by greatly underachieving? Do they still consistently underachieve in the new version?

Gencoimports

Most wide receivers with high ypc averages are underachieving plus the running issue with WRs I mentioned earlier. Some of the top kickers are missing FGs a little more often than I'd like, but it's not a huge issue.

WIS

What do you believe are the most important figures to consider (per position) when building a team?

Gencoimports

With 2.0, I have been looking for players with 100% durability. You also want at least 2 quality RBs with high stamina ratings and at least a reasonably high run rating. I always look for an expensive top of the line offensive line. At least 2 quality WRs if not 3. Sometimes I will spend more for a defense and other times not. The 2 areas I am skimpy at are special teams and TEs. Sometimes I do pay for that on the field though.

WIS

How do you approach setting your depth chart and fatigue levels?

Gencoimports

I try to draft a team that will give me about 1000 "touches" a season - rushes and receptions. That's about 60 plays a game, which is normal NFL output. I will look for players with highest possible run and receiving ratings who will give me those 60 plays a game. I should have at least 4 or 5 WRs/RBs who have good enough stamina so I am not abusing their real life numbers. Obviously, those players will all be rated 1-2 on the depth chart. I usually rotate everyone else from 3-5 keeping the fresh players on top.

WIS

What offensive and defensive styles do you prefer? Do these depend on your opponent?

Gencoimports

On offense I am normally run oriented but try to maintain balance. I will look at my opponents' tendencies and sometimes I will make a dramatic switch to the pass if my instincts tell me he is going to overplay the run and has the talent to do that. On defense, I am usually pretty balanced on most downs except the obvious ones. The disadvantage of this is less sacks and interceptions, but the advantage is fewer points and big plays if you have a quality defense.

WIS

Do you utilize the waiver wire or practice squad during the season?

Gencoimports

I almost never use the waiver wire since I draft players with high durability and stamina. I will rotate in players on my practice squad to replace backup players who I feel have been slightly overused.

WIS

What do you believe is the overall biggest key to success in SimLeague football?

Gencoimports

Play the numbers and do not get attached to your favorite players or teams. A team in an open league with all players from the same NFL franchise is usually doomed to failure. In 2.0, some teams I feel overdraft for stamina, especially in some of the theme leagues with large salary caps.

WIS

Being one of the best football users, do other users contact you often for help via sitemail? If so, what are some of the most frequently asked questions and how do you respond?

Gencoimports

Yes, I do get contacted a lot and I respond when I can. I am usually just asked for any general advice = "Look at my team and tell me what you think."

WIS

What do you believe you do before and during the season to separate yourself from the other teams in your league?

Gencoimports

Before I answer that, let me say, it's getting a lot harder to do that! With 2.0 most of your success is in the draft. When 2.0 first launched, many owners including myself complained there was no control over the game with the settings. I have learned since that there is control, it's just more subtle. There is a feel to the settings. You might get away going on autopilot for a game or two, but not in the long run. You have to look at your opponent and adjust. The adjustments are just a minor change here and there compared to before.

WIS

Do you approach the playoffs any differently than the regular season?

Gencoimports

Sometimes. Depends on how busy I am outside of WIS. If I have the time, I will take a much closer look at my opponent and see if any adjustments are necessary. Sometimes I over think when I do that.

WIS

Which NFL SimLeague users have proven to be your biggest challenge?

Gencoimports

tisi29, gc041570 (I was often accused of being him), rfg021099, tomnd87, seymourhiney, whitedawg, quelch, ziggy67534 and many others.

WIS

Which users do you respect the most?

Gencoimports

All of those owners I mentioned above. They all have been top dog at one time or another.

WIS

Have you ever met any other users or site staff?

Gencoimports

Nope, you guys need to come down to sunny Florida!

WIS

What is the best advice can you give to new SimLeague football users who want to succeed and have fun?

Gencoimports

Spend time in the theme leagues. When playing in an open league, do not get too attached to names or teams. You are better off playing the numbers.

WIS

What advice can you give to new WhatIfSports.com users in general who want to have fun and get the most out of the site?

Gencoimports

Play in a few 6-team exhibition leagues before trying out an open league. Go to the Game Results page before knowing if your team won or lost.

WIS

What is your favorite aspect of the site in general?

Gencoimports

The Game Results (Play by play) pages, without a doubt. The suspense of watching your game unfold as you watch your team pull it out or not in the 4th quarter.

WIS

What is your least favorite aspect concerning the site? If you could change one thing about WhatIfSports.com, what would it be?

Gencoimports

Add graphics to the simulation. Don't just read the text of the play result. Let's see it. I know, coming in 3.0. LOL

User Profile

LoginID: Gencoimports
Name: Jim
Age:39
Location:Tampa, Florida
Occupation:Web Developer
Favorite Sport(s):Football
Favorite Team(s):Tampa Bay Buccaneers, LA Lakers, Tampa Bay Lightning
Favorite Sports Memory:Ronde Barber 92-yard interception return in 2002 NFC Championship game.
Member Since: 2002
Greatest WIS Moment:Winning a open league championship after a 0-5 start.

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