RICHMOND, Virginia -- He started asking trivia questions to fill time in training camp last season, tossing out the first one during a walk-through session. It turned into a competition with Washington Redskins players and coaches ribbing one another. Then it turned into a pursuit of, well, more trivia.
And then it snowballed: Teammates and others in the organization wanted more. That’s where the life of a punter had its perks: Tress Way had the time to deliver. While those teammates sat in meetings, Way sat with the other specialists in his hotel room coming up with more trivia questions.
“We were coming up with questions and playing every night,” Way said. “We split into teams. We’d try to guess as many as we could. And then it turned into how to make it more interesting.”
They played in the equipment room during the season, on the airplane or on a night before a game. Then it turned into something else: Instead of just fighting boredom, Way created a board game called What’s Your Bid. It’s now available online. It features two teams and relies more on a player's confidence in answering questions rather than outright knowledge. For example: The question might be to name the past 10 Super Bowl winners. Teams then bid on how many they think they can answer.
— What's Your Bid (@WhatsYourBid) August 1, 2017
— Will Compton (@_willcompton) July 25, 2017
What's Your Bid Wednesday! 5 Flavors of Original Skittles... do you dare to bid all 5?! Check out the game here! https://t.co/bgbYAa7mzT
— Tress Way (@Tress_Way) August 3, 2017
An idea becomes reality
Way spent most of the offseason coming up with more questions. During an interview in late March, he said a notebook was next to him so he could write down new questions when they popped into his head.
“I’d be driving down the road and think, ‘What are the colors of all the road signs?’ I’d hop on Google, type in color of road signs, and there are eight colors,” Way said. “There’s a question.
“As funny as it sounds, it’s something maybe I’m blessed with being creative and not knowing what to do in the offseason. Netflix only goes so far.”
He ended up with more than 500 questions in five categories: sports and entertainment, food and science, animals, world history and statistics.
“We thought it was a fun time; he enjoyed making new questions,” kicker Dustin Hopkins said. “I had no idea it would come into a full-fledged game. It was pretty cool to see that he saw it through. ... The game is awesome. What sets it apart is that anyone can play.”
But creating a game meant more than compiling questions. Way relied on college buddies from Oklahoma to help navigate other aspects. His agent connected him with a trademark and copyright lawyer.
He also had to create a logo, name the company (Way Fun Games, courtesy of his mother-in-law), market and raise funds. They had to worry about manufacturing costs and website construction. They set up a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising $28,000 (they’ve raised nearly $12,000 in the first week). They hope to raise $50,000 overall.
“When he puts his mind to something, he does it,” long-snapper Nick Sundberg said of Way. “We had a couple talks last year around this time and he said, ‘I really think this could be something.’ We talked about where it could go and he went and made it happen. That’s just him. He’s a go-getter.”
One Way friend, Chad Theiss, a salesman for AT&T, researched how to get the game into stores. The big stores won’t accept a game until it has proven sales. That’s why Way is hoping to quickly sell out of the initial 1,000 they’ve made.
“None of us have launched a new product before,” said Ben Habern, another Way friend, who is in sports marketing. “You figure it out as you go. It’s pretty fun. We learned it’s not easy to launch a product, once you start digging into the nuts and bolts.”
Family Feud style
Habern played football at Oklahoma with Way and knows he likes to invent games. If they went to play basketball, or went outside to throw the ball around, Way would create different games to make it more interesting or challenging.
“He had random questions that ultimately turned into the What’s Your Bid game,” Habern said. “A lot of times when we were in the car, if we weren’t listening to music, he would rattle off random facts or questions.”
In What's Your Bid, there are two teams of at least two players each. Every person must answer at least one question, preventing one player from dominating a team. Teams have 30 seconds to decide how many poker chips they’ll bid on a question. If, for example, there are 10 answers, they might say they can get eight correct. But when deciding how many to bid, they can only tell one another how many they might be able to name -- without specifics. Way says it’s akin to a Family Feud-style trivia game. The first team to collect 30 chips wins.
A sample question: Name the top eight-selling sodas in 2016.
“My wife [Brianna] hates trivia, and I like it,” Way said. “The reason she doesn’t like it is because if you ask her, 'Who won the Super Bowl in 2005?' she’ll have no idea. If I ask her 'Who are the last 10 teams that won the Super Bowl?' she could give you two, three, four or five of those. So it became an easy game to play but hard to win.
“We’re not claiming to be the next Trivial Pursuit. They’re the best,” Way said, “but this offers something Trivial Pursuit does not in the sense that everyone can play.”
Way would hear from family members who played it with their friends, letting him know a market exists.
“Because of the way it incorporates everybody,” Hopkins said. “It’s the best trivia game I played. Even if the first three questions are easy, the last three it might be hard, and that makes it fun.”
By the way, that first question last year in camp was centered on the Associated Press rankings of the Top 100 college football programs, which was based off a point system. So Way asked teammates how many of the top 10 they could name. Offensive coordinator Matt Cavanaugh and backup quarterback Colt McCoy tied for first with one incorrect answer. Coach Jay Gruden and president Bruce Allen had two wrong.
“Everyone wanted to know how they were doing,” Way said. “Colt wanted to know if he was still in first. Coach Gruden wanted to know who he beat. Guys were teasing each other. Guys said, ‘Hey, Tress, you got another one?'"