Sat 28 Oct 2006
Originally the Optera Football League, formed by football-loving members of Nortel’s ill-fated Optera Packet Core project, and now the Obfuscated Football League, the OFL has been providing touch football fans with excitement and intrigue since its inaugural season of 2000.
Records from the early days are scarce, but old veterans of the original OFL remember strapping on the cleats Friday afternoon to do battle on the front lawn of Nortel’s Skypark campus. At 4PM on Fridays, in those heady days, Nortel would serve snacks and beer in an attempt to maintain a ‘startup’ feel to the organization. This was usually accompanied with a presentation that was skipped by the OFL players, who usually returned in time to finish off the beer and munchies.
These were the days of the high-powered St. Louis Rams and their uncannily efficient long bomb throwing QB, Kurt Warner, leading OFL player Paul McRae to adopt Warner’s jersey and long throwing tendencies. Other notable players from that era include the talented Tom Szczerbowski, the irrepressible Pablo Frank, the athletic Paul Bertels, lanky Sean Hope, shifty Adriano Palumbo, and beefy Mike Ciancibello.
The teams were aligned along organizational boundaries, with McRae leading the IP Stack squad (he managed the same group in Optera Packet Core) and Frank heading up the BGP team (he was a developer on that team in OPC). The official records have been lost to the mists of time, but the IP Stack bested BGP on most afternoons. Because the players enjoyed the game so much, they agreed to continue playing into the winter by renting time at Lansdowne Park, which is covered by an inflatable dome during the winter months. For many, this was the first exposure to an amazing product, FieldTurf, an artificial surface that is uncannily like real grass. The OFL continued to play several games at Lansdowne, with the IP Stack winning the final ‘Superbowl’ by narrowly defeating the BGP squad. The season concluded in early 2001.
Interest in football remained high among the OPC teammates even after the project was cancelled in the summer of 2001 and people moved on to either other jobs and other departments.
The final season of the Optera Football League is well documented as a tradition began that a member of the winning team was bestowed with the honor of writing up the game account. Szczerbowski or McRae usually penned the IP Stack pieces, while Frank would author the rare BGP victory accounts. Games commenced in September of 2002 and continued through into early 2003. This time, the OFL procured the Thunderdome field in Carp to play while the snow accumulated outside. Another FieldTurf surface, the Thunderdome (part of the Thunderbird Golf Course), provided excellent accomodations and service. This season saw the debut of IP Stack’s orange jerseys with McRae donning the jersey of Miami Hurricane QB Ken Dorsey (38-2 as a starter). Once again, the IP Stack was crowned OFL champion after finishing 10-3 on the year.
As the members of the OFL continued to go their separate ways during the tech downturn, organizing football games fell behind other priorities. No games were played in 2004 and 2005. However, in late summer 2006, the OFL was resurrected as the Obfuscated Football League, with two new teams, the Irish Stout and the French Foreign Legion, which commenced play in August, 2006.
Below are links to the game accounts for the seasons that were documented: