It was at a Super Bowl party 12 years ago when inspiration struck Olivet native, Brian Osborn. He used a sheet of drywall and a sharpie to create the first prototype of what has become a game sold across the country — Tailgate Touchdown.
Of course it took several years and a lot of coaxing from eventual business partners and lifelong friends, Chris Parkinson and Tom Fleming, before the game was made available to the public. But, now that it has, the trio has started making sales of their football themed tailgating game across the country.
“Our peak season is typically August through December, following the college season,” Osborn said. “We see a small spike in sales just before the Super Bowl.”
The game officially debuted in spring of 2012, but it had been generating a buzz long before that. From the time Osborn unveiled that first piece of drywall, the game drew plenty of interest. At first it was from family and friends that would ask to borrow. Over the years, Osborn would make small tweaks to make the game more visually appealing, eventually adding hinges to allow the 52-inch game board to fold up for easier transportation.
Parkinson and Fleming became really serious in working with Osborn to distribute the game following a tailgating experience at a Michigan, Ohio State football game.
“They were blown away by the crowds that gathered around to watch the game,” Osborn said. “From that point they wanted to get serious about it.”
Tailgate Touchdown is a game of chance in which anywhere from 2 to 6 players at a time race miniature football helmets from one end zone to the other. Players select a lane, numbered 1 through 6, and roll six white dice and one black die. Players advance their helmets according to the number of times their number appears on one of the white dice. If their lane number appears on the black die, their advancement is blocked.
The game can be ordered locally by calling (517) 667-1721, ordered online at www.TailgateTouchdown.com or can be found in the Frandor Dunhams.
Osborn said sales of the game have been encouraging. He said he hopes profits from Tailgate Touchdown will help with the launch of the trio’s next endeavor, Tailgate Trackside, a NASCAR themed game similar to Tailgate Touchdown.
“We’re as optimistic as we’ve ever been,” Osborn said. “It’s kind of weird sending games to Nashville, San Antonio or Minnesota, but somehow the name is getting out there.”