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By Jeff Melinyshyn 

Welcome to Edition 4 of Inside the Front Office. This week will feature an interview with current Baltimore Vultures co-owner Thomas Paterniti. He has had quite the career in the Simulation Football League. In Season 4, he was granted ownership of the Minneapolis Maulers. He had to give up on his dream after four seasons with demands of schooling and then career wise, which we all face in our lifetime. He would return in Season 8 as coach of the Tallahassee Pride, before stepping away again. He would return for a second time in Season 11 when he was offered co-ownership with close friend Tim Johnson, the other co-owner of Baltimore. Thomas is a great guy and I have had some previous talks with him, but nothing close to when I asked him to sit down for a 1-on-1.

Jeff Melinyshyn (JM): “Thanks for agreeing to sit down with me, last game was a tough contest against Tallahassee. So how many seasons is this that you have been a part of in the SFL?”
Thomas Paterniti (TP): “Thanks for having me. Certainly, every loss is difficult. Interestingly, we lost to the Pride in similar fashion both times, and by an identical score, 38-27. What that means, I don’t really know. Every week you bring your “A-game”, but there are a lot of great coaches and owners in the league who are doing the same thing, so it’s tough to win consistently. Matchups are also very important, which may explain some surprising results and provide insight into why certain teams seem to beat certain other teams more often than one might expect. As for me, this is my 8th season in the SFL. I began in Season 3 as coach of the Baltimore Crabs, then was awarded my own team in Season 4, the Minneapolis Maulers. I was an owner for 4 seasons before having to step away due to the demands of my schooling. I returned in Season 8 as a coach of the Tallahassee Pride, where I worked very closely with current owner Frank Goodin, who is a phenomenal coach and owner in his own right; before again stepping away from the league due to school. I attended the first SFL convention last year in Dallas and decided to re-enter the league. I had worked with Baltimore Vultures owner Tim Johnson previously and I consider him a friend, so this seemed like a natural fit for me. Tim offered me co-ownership midway through Season 11, and I decided to accept, which brings us to the present.
JM: “Wow! That is a pretty remarkable journey. If you can, what made you decide to apply for ownership going into Season 4?”
TP: “I think it was really just desire of full creative control. At the time I felt that all the teams in the league were more or less homogenous with power RBs, run-stuffing MLBs, and teams just ran first, second, and third, and only passed if they had to. This is of course an over-generalization. However, I was eager for a chance to create my own team with its own identity. When I applied for the team, I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take it, but I knew I wanted to try something that had not been done previously. One important consideration is that in Seasons 3 and 4, the demands on an owner were much less, so it was not as much of an undertaking to become an owner then as it is now. There were only a few user players, no discord, no progression, really nothing to do but coach during the season. Ownership is much more involved now.”
JM: “You set records in Season 4 throwing the football. Do you think you pioneered the SFL into what playbooks are today?”
TP: “I’d say yes and no. I did something that had not been attempted, and it was successful, so other coaches tried to draw from that. But I would not say that I did something no one else would have eventually done or tried. Each time a new owner or coach joins the league, they add their own wrinkle to the game. I still watch coaches every week and see plays and strategies that I never thought of that seem to be working, and this way I learn and grow as a coach myself.”
Jeff: “Do you consider yourself more coach or owner?”
TP: “Definitely more of a coach. I handle the coaching aspects while Tim (Johnson, co-owner of Baltimore) manages the roster. We work together on progression and we both comment on games in the locker room, although he definitely takes the lead in that regard. He checks everything I submit and points out errors when I make them. We are very likeminded in many respects which makes it easy for us to work together. Tim makes coaching suggestions most weeks and I always take these very seriously because he has a lot of experience as well and knows the game inside and out.”
Jeff: “That is quite an interesting dynamic between you two. Okay so, even though I work for Inside the Front Office and want to keep it front office related you are certainly one of the best coaches and I have seen some stuff you have written for SFL Beat and it is very fascinating. So, for my readers who are looking to possibly get into coaching what kind advice would you give them?”
TP: “The best way to get into coaching is to find a team and get plugged in with them, probably as a scout. The process of coaching looks different for every team so it’s probably best to try and get plugged into a team and learn from them. Coaching can be fun, but it’s always quite time-consuming so be prepared.”
Jeff: “Now on the other side what about for potential people out there that would want to get into maybe being owner of a team?”
TP: “There really isn’t a direct path to ownership at this time because the league has no immediate plans to expand. Currently the path is more or less to become a coach and gain experience in hopes of either being offered co-ownership or of applying for ownership should the league expand. Owning a team is a huge responsibility and potential owners undergo extensive vetting by the commissioner and other league owners to ensure that they will do right by the league and their players.”
Jeff: “So, do you have any regrets or anything you wish you can do over again if this was s3 when you started out?”
TP: “The only regret I have is that I wish I had acted more civilly and put the league ahead of my own team more in the aftermath of the Maulers first season. To this day I do not agree with forcing teams to run or pass if they don’t want to, as there are teams in real life, especially in college and high school, that are completely one dimensional, however I should have handled those conversations better.”
Jeff: “Thank you for taking time to sit down with me and I wish you nothing but luck in the last 3 weeks and playoffs.”
TP: “Ok Thank you!”

My next sit down is with someone who you might interact with on a daily basis. He is always on and seems to not have a life outside of the SFL. Here is my sit down with the most interesting man in the world… DPP.

Jeff Melinyshyn: “Thank you for taking time to sit down with my DPP, I know you have a lot on your plate, so first question, tell the readers a little bit about the man behind DPP.”
DPP: “The man behind the shield profile picture is a simple man, really. He enjoys not exercising, fatty foods, beer, Dungeons and Dragons or any other tabletop game that takes more than a couple hours to play and works in IT (which can be implied by the list preceding this).”
JM: “I mean fatty foods are delicious… nothing wrong there, is there a first name that the most interesting man in the world goes by?”
AR: “Andrew is my birth name. Andy to folks from college. Drew to family. Rasty to the jerks I grew up with and refuse to call me anything else…. also, Mighty randomly started calling that and it was a little off-putting. Like, how did he know?”
JM: “Mighty has won two rangzz so, I mean he probably knows what I had for breakfast. So, what got young Rasty into the SFL?”
AR: “Interestingly enough (or not since this story involves Ray Bentley), I was in the middle of possibly setting up a similarly planned league using Blitz: The League II with Ray and while stumbling through the new posts on the r/nfl subreddit, someone mentioned this league. I checked out the website and watched some parts of a game and thought to myself “Hey someone did the work already! Let’s mooch off them!” At which point, I alerted Bentley on how to join (sorry about that) and we ditched our real life friends and joined the SFL where we knew no one. That was August 11, 2016. About half way through Season 7. I joined the DC Dragons as their non-star fullback for the remainder of the season, at which point they promptly folded.”
JM: “Wow, join a team and then they folded, so what happened next?”
AR: “The Dragons were owned by Destro, so he answered his higher calling to be Hex Master. I also took the DPP gig about the same time, however, I wanted to have some experience to help me to that job a bit better. So, I joined the Baltimore Crabs in Season 8 as their QB. We were decent but had a tough stretch at the end of the season and missed the playoffs. After a season of trying to the DPP job without access to all teams and their locker rooms, I found it was difficult, so I had to retire.”
JM: “So, how did you get approached for the DPP job?”
AR: “Cam put out a call for a few different positions he was needing help with. I had actually asked him more about the Head of Stats position since that had a more defined role, but the DPP spot ended up being the higher and more prominent position I had to fill.”
JM: “What exactly are the responsibilities day to day for you?”
AR: “At the moment, as they can change at any point, really, I am in charge of the following:
-processing and confirming all 252 player progression submissions each week
– tracking each individual player’s build
– ensuring the builds are within the rules
– ensuring submitted contracts are within the rules
– writing up rule change ballots during owner meetings
– writing up co-owner confirmation ballots
– writing up Competition Committee ballots
– community management for Discord
– levying discipline for players
– tracking league verification for coaches
– re-writing the rulebook after owner’s meetings each week
– almost daily phone calls with Cam to organize league functions each week
– input box scores for each completed game
– organizing Rookie Checkins and validating them
– approving Coaches Points within the rules
– tracking every player’s progression record, tracking all misses and saves
There’s probably some other things as well, but those are the most important things I do every day/week.”
JM: “Do you ever think about if you were not DPP and having a player?
I’m sure it sucks not being able to have a player.”
AR: “Of course I do. Being a player is all I think about, really, because it kind of comes with the territory. I’m always trying to weigh what it’s like to be a player and owner in the league. I do kind of miss being able to check my stats and see where I weigh against the rest of the league and I’m kind of bummed that I missed a chance to be a player in the Progression Era of the SFL, but I also get to see everyone else do it. It becomes pretty easy to live vicariously through every player and team, through every victory and triumph. I read through every locker room and every coaches channel every day and it’s really interesting getting to see what the State of the League is every morning.”
JM: “I’m sure you have read some pretty interesting things through coaching channels and the team locker rooms. Is there one thing where you read it and started cracking up that was funny that you can share without giving the team who it was?”
AR: “I don’t know about cracking up, but a couple of teams had some face reveal parties, so to speak, and it was interesting to see the people behind the avatars on the field. Especially some people who you wonder how close their SFL player resembles their actual self and who takes artistic license. I would say that I generally laugh at Dallas’ owner posting ridiculous gifs whenever a player reaches a new level and the faux feud that you had with Frank Axemall.”
JM: “Oh yeah I remember that, when I was added to the locker room and frank wanted to quit and would “axe” my locker lol. So, lastly, what advice would you give someone who is maybe looking to move up in a league staff role?”
AR: “Find an owner and/or coach is wanting to share the load a bit and learn the basics. Needing to learn the ins and outs of the progression system is first and foremost, but also how contracts are structured. It makes your life easier when my life is easier, essentially. When we are not cleaning up errors in contracts or progression, then it’s one less thing for the coaches to worry about, because let’s face it, they have enough to worry about. The Front Office personnel in the SFL set the table for the season. They work out the values available for the players available. Interviewing rookies and free agents. Seeing who plugs in where and even where they can be by Week 10 when the team could be gearing up for a playoff push. It all starts with the offseason and the Front Offices of the teams getting the right pieces in place to make a run. So step 1 would be reviewing the Progression document in #information and going to team or League staff with any questions. Just be clear on all of it and leave nothing to chance or doubt. I’ll admit, it’s a lot to learn, but it’s that way to provide the best possible simulation experience possible. Progression is still new, so we are still working out the rough edges. If you have any suggestions, you can always come to me to let me know. When I think of the GM’s that make the bigger impact, I think of the ones who came to me to ask how things work and get a better understanding.”
JM: “Thank you for taking time to meet with me under short notice.”
AR: “You’re welcome.”

Special note: I just want to thank everyone who reads this series. It means a lot to me that so many people are willing to help. I have come into contact with so many owners and GMs I cannot even count. The amount of detail they give when I ask for a statement is remarkable. When I started this series, I had no idea what I would get from owners and GMs about roster move statements, but quickly I was able to get a statement from every owner and GM of a team that made roster moves. I want to thank the rival executives who I contacted for write ups on how signings would fit in with their new teams. This seasons transactions for signings is over. But keep your eye out for the off season when the panel that I have put together (Crash Combs, Marcus Dunhill, Xander Gold, Christian Christansen, and myself) take on the off season and everything that happens. Every team will be covered. I want to thank the readers and three special people. Crash Combs, who allowed me to bounce ideas and who I went to about this series before I was granted permission. Matthew Slinn, who trusted me and put faith in me. Lastly, Cam the commissioner of the SFL. I went to him right after getting the okay from Slinn because I wanted him to know what my intentions were as well. Without his support, I don’t know how far this would have gone. If any readers have ideas for what they would like to see in a future article DM me or message me on twitter @JMelinyshyn21.

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