Sportsman's Daily

 

Larry Bynon, 49 Year Old Inventor of Paper Football Loses Eye in Freak Field Goal Mishap

Larry Bynon

 

BLAIRSTOWN, NJ (Sportsman’s Daily Wire Service) — Amos Alonzo Stagg. Pop Warner. George Halas. These men were architects of the great game known as American Football. But it is perhaps Larry Bynon who has had the greatest impact on nearly three generations of young football loving boys in school cafeterias and study halls across this country. Bynon, who is largely regarded as the father of Paper Football suffered a devastating injury while demonstrating the game he created over forty years ago to a group of fourth graders in his hometown of Blairstown, New Jersey.

Bynon, who was sitting across a cafeteria table from little Timmy Healy, placed his hands in the traditional field goal position awaiting his opponent’s attempt at a three point conversion. Healy pulled back his middle finger and flicked the paper football in what initially appeared to be a dead on kick. But it suddenly took a turn and the tightly folded corner punctured Bynon’s eyeball with dreadful results. “It was really awful,” said Social Studies teacher Mr. Wega. “He was clutching his head and screaming as steady streams of blood pulsated from his left eye and gushed between his fingers. We rushed him to the school nurse, but she couldn’t administer treatment without a written permission slip from Bynon’s parents, who are sadly both dead.

“We tried to save the eye,” said Dr. Raj Prajneesh of nearby Hackettstown Community Hospital. “But the paper football severed the retina and cornea in a way that required immediate attention – attention the school nurse was unwilling to give or prevented in someway from giving.”

“I think Timmy folded it up too tight. The crease on that thing was like a razor blade,” said Joey Williams a classmate of Healy’s.

Paper Football’s History

Paper Football, is also called Flick Football, Finger Football, and Carta Football. In some circles it is called Chinese Football. However, that’s a bit of a misnomer considering it employs the Japanese paper folding art of Origami.

By all accounts, Bynon created a loose framework for the game on October 14, 1966 while sitting in his elementary school cafeteria in Blairstown with friends Bobby Carr, and Tommy Bendick. “They had finished their fish sticks and macaroni early, and were trying to kill time when I saw Larry fold his spelling test up into a triangle and began tapping it over to Bobby without actually knocking off the table,” said former Vice Principal Chester Swanson. “He told Bobby that if the ball hangs over the edge of the table, it’s six points. I thought it was a one time thing that would be forgotten the next day. Boy was I wrong.”

The game developed quickly from there. At first there was no kicking at all, only touchdowns. But some players complained the “edge tapping” advancement of the ball was too hard, and there should be another option for players to score. So in early 1967, Larry devised a plan of kicking or “flicking” the ball through a set of uprights. At first the uprights were two pencils held about eight inches apart, but Larry figured for the game to be truly portable and played anywhere, he shifted to the now famous “Opposing L” finger position. Tragically, it would be this innovation that sealed the fate of his left eye forty years later.

News of the game quickly spread to other school districts in Northern New Jersey and by the end of 1967 it was being played in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. “It was really just an east coast phenomenon,” said 46 year old Chuck Brady, a Paper Football league player in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “But then Larry Bynon went to visit his cousins in Anaheim, California in the summer of 1968 and the game spread like wildfire.”

By the early 1970s paper football was being played in elementary schools, middle schools, and even some high schools in every state in the US. It was largely considered the poor man’s version of the electronic football game with the vibrating field and plastic players which peaked over thirty years ago. Kenneth Malvern, who invented the game in 1947, committed suicide in 1978 by getting into the bathtub with his prototype version after learning he’d unknowingly signed away his rights to Tudor Games.

Life after Paper Football

As a teenager Larry would see other students playing Paper Football and gently inform them that he invented the game which almost always led to him being accused of lying followed by verbal and sometimes even physical abuse. He became a loner and by the mid 70’s began drinking heavily. In 1980 he met Lisa Carlucci and the couple got married two years later. Larry credits Lisa with helping him to stop drinking and finding meaning in life. Shortly after celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary this past June, Larry was finally acknowledged as the inventor of Paper Football and was asked to give a series of lectures and demonstrations during the upcoming school year. He agreed. Things went well until last week when the accident occurred.

Larry hasn’t been heard from much since. “I know he’s depressed,” said his wife Lisa. “He’s quit his job and I’m worried about him drinking again. He sits and watches reruns of Gilligan’s Island all day. He’s so on edge. I told him ‘Larry, just shut your eye and get some rest.’”

 

» Back to Features

AUTHORS

The Authors of The Sportsman’s Daily

Charles Epstein Headshot

CHARLES EPSTEIN

TSD Editor-In Chief and TSD Weekend Show co-host.
Read bio

Tom Alexander Headshot

TOM ALEXANDER

TSD Executive Editor and TSD Weekend Show host.
Read bio

Angelo Vecchio

ANGELO VECCHIO

DC's Foremost Authority on His Own Opinion
Read bio

Angelo Vecchio

KATIE RINKI

Helsinki Rinki with Katie Rinki
Read bio