We’re wrapping up SB Nation’s Video Game week by asking our staff to give us the first football “game” they remember playing. Some of us are old enough to remember a time where video games didn’t exist, which is why we opened the question up to any type of football game at all.
Sure, some of us will mention an early version of a video game, but there were so many fun choices before holding a joystick — Are they still called joysticks? — was even an option.
Once I became a football fan, I was obsessed with playing anything I could find, but probably the first football game I ever played was a hand-held version that looked very much like this...
I was so enthralled with football that I would actually play full seasons worth of games, for the Chicago Bears of course, and track the stats. It was a tedious exercise, but I just had to know how many yards and touchdowns I was getting with my virtual “Sweetness.”
I also played the vibrating electronic version of football like the one in the accompanying article pic. My cousin had it and we would set up elaborate plays that would never work, and once we lost the men that went to the game we used the game-pieces from Risk to fill out our rosters.
My cousin, who was a year older so he got all the cool stuff first, also had Strat-O-Matic Football which was a card based dice game that also allowed us to track all the stats.
When it comes to video games, I had the very first Madden game ever made for the Commodore 64, and I also played a horribly lame looking game called Computer Football Strategy, also for the Commodore 64.
That game looked awful, but me and several of my friends would hold a “fantasy draft” to stockpile full rosters of real players, then we’d have to declare which player we were running or passing to before we clicked on play, all so we could track the stats for a complete made up season.
Now that I’ve shown how nerdish I was with numbers back then, let’s check in on the first football game some of our other staffers remember...
“Electric football, definitely. I had one as a kid, repainted one team to be the Bears and the other team to be the Packers. Before painting them, I picked out all the best guys (guys who went strait) and they were who I painted into the Bears.” ~ Ken Mitchell
“I do remember playing Atari Real Sports Football with my brother when I was really little. I probably wasn’t more than 6 or 7 years old, but I remember that whoever got the ball first usually won the game because scores were usually in the neighborhood of 84-77.“ ~ Bill Zimmerman
“NFL Football ‘94 (Genesis)... Ah, back when I thought running fake punts for 90 yards on first down was smart football. Because it worked.” ~ Steven Schweickert
“NFL Blitz for the N64, and unfortunately this was before my “football singularity” so I didn’t understand why the game was supposed to be fun. It’s a real shame I didn’t, because now I pump a minimum of $3 into any NFL Blitz console I see at an arcade.” ~ Robert Schmitz
“ESPN NFL 2K5... Let’s talk about The Crib!” ~ Jack Salo
“Thanks to Madden 06, I used to think Donovan McNabb was the gold standard of modern quarterbacks. After all, his field vision cone was only second to Peyton Manning’s (of whose contributions we don’t recognize). And sometimes, McNabb could pull out short five-yard runs on a whim. Sometimes, with a lot of effort. A magician! The man was a surgeon, a visionary. Madden 06 taught me as such.” ~ Robert Zeglinski
“Madden 07 on the original XBOX. Six-year-old me would take control of both controllers and play as both the Bears and the NFL Europe’s Cologne Centurions, and I would purposefully turn the ball over as the Centurions so the Bears could score over 100 points. I bragged to all of my friends in kindergarten about how good I was in Madden, but they never found out the truth.” ~ Jacob Infante
“Madden ‘07... I’d always cut Rex Grossman and start Brian Griese.” ~ Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
What was the first football “game” you remember playing?
And while we’re here, Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there!