In my first game in control of the Jets, playing a football video game for the first time ever, I lost by a glaring margin of 134 to zero. The 1992-1993 Jets were 4-12, out of the playoffs, and the guys I had were worse. Front Page Sports Football did not have a license with the NFL or NFLPA, thus all the players had made up names and numbers. My first game simply matched “Philadelphia” vs. “New York,” but both teams wore white and green uniforms – so it was like that.
While many more years of losing would ensue for the real-life Jets during the mid-1990s, it would only be a few weeks before I’d found a dastardly tactic to reverse my own fortunes…
Meanwhile, my teacher was desperately trying to impose some semblance of punctuation onto my unbridled stream of sportscasting consciousness. On the facing page, I was introduced for the first time to the pilcrow, to which I’d take reluctantly.
The next time someone belittles the technology preferences of a child – or you’re inclined to do so yourself – kindly refer back to this post. Though it had been only 11 days since I’d received my “computerized football game”, already I’d become “so adjusted” to using the keyboard that I was uncomfortable changing input devices.
To reduce this new joystick to the status of a “peripheral input device,” however, is to belittle its importance. It was a new toy, and places like CompUSA and Egghead would become the toy stores of my childhood. Nowadays, I still feel a tinge of the same rush I got as a youth on the rare occasion I enter a MicroCenter, albeit with a markedly reduced sense of wonder.
I’ll never cease to be flummoxed by the nature of some of the corrections that I received on these journal entries. The name of a restaurant is that restaurant’s name; all restaurant names do not implicitly include “The” and “Restaurant.” I’m not sure why anyone would attempt to engdender this pedantry in a budding young author.
I had five consecutive birthday parties at Villa Margherita, my family’s local favorite pizza and Italian spot at the time. Eventually, I would not only have birthday parties there, but haircuts as well. As the boom times went bust, they’d give up the “new backroom,” which became Arista Hair Salon, where as a high school student I’d have some of my last pre-fro trims.
Tonight, I was relieved to find out that The Villa Margherita Restaurant’s apparent demise was in fact no demise at all. The Joe in “Papa Joe’s,” which occupies the same space, is in fact the very same Joe who made my birthday pies two decades ago.
The Buffalo Bills were headed for their third consecutive Super Bowl, and what would turn out to be their third consecutive loss. Despite leading the league in rushing, and the AFC in points and yards gained – good enough for the number one offense in the nation – they would be summarily trounced by the Cowboys 52-17. Guess no one bothers to tell first graders that defense wins championships.
Six going on sixty, pondering the prior evening’s gastrointestintal distress.
We are awash in the trite and true observation that “there was no YouTube in the [past],” but my genuine marvel at seeing an historical figure – a guy with a day named after him – alive and speaking on my very television speaks to the difference between then and now. Despite his relatively recent passing (compared to the long-since-departed Founding Fathers), Dr. King had simply been a name to me. It would take a chance encounter – or a trip to the library – for me to realise I could hear the speech I’d theretofore only heard about.
I still have this game, and apparently, I still have this blog. Though it’s been a solid four years since I began this endeavour, I still haven’t completed first grade again.
This inaugural edition of Front Page Sports Football was my first sports video game. With its detailed play editing features and thick manual that detailed not only how to play the game, but (amongst other things) all the penalties and their corresponding yardages, the game deepened my burgeoning obsession with football.
My entries over the next few months of 1993 bear witness to my tumble into this new pastime. My entries over the next few months of 2015 will (hopefully) see you bear witness as I return to this old pastime.
Perspective. Not only is it extremely beneficial when examining your childhood, but it also pretty much catalysed the Renaissance. Remarkably, humans spent millenia plodding around this planet without a systematic approach to realistically representing the world around them onto a flat surface. Over the course of the last thousand years, however, a Muslim scientist’s resarch into vision made its way to an Italian painter, who revolutionised his craft. This shared knowledge traversed the globe over the ensuing centuries, eventually reaching my mother, who, perhaps alarmed by my cubist tendencies, spent an evening with me in early January explaining such concepts as proportion and vanishing points.
She demonstrated these techniques to me by drawing a house that, if memory serves me correctly, looked significantly better than the mimetic depiction I subquently mustered. Nevertheless, I was eager to show off my newfound skills as soon as possible. Despite its flaws, it is not nearly as jarring as the Satire on False Perspective.
While many of the other football games I chronicled have largely been forgotten by history, the epic contest I witnessed the day before remains one of the most memorable clashes in NFL history. My account of what is now known simply as The Comeback is entirely accurate: After a lacakadaisical half-plus of football, the reigning AFC Champion Buffalo Bills stormed back from a 32-point defecit with one touchdown, and then three more, taking the lead and eventually winning the game in overtime. I was just old enough to really understand what was going on, and it was thrilling to be a witness to history*.
Watching the highlights again today is deeply anachronistic. The game is instantly dated not only by the standard-definition footage and simplistic motion design, but the lack of official video replay review that would have nullified a crucial Buffalo touchdown.
At the same time, however, the contest could have been part of this past weekend’s action. Just sit back and truly soak in the orchestral revelry that is the ESPN NFL Primetime Highlight Song. Let Chris Berman and Tom Jackson do their good-cop-bad-joke-cop routine for the umpteenth time, and you may just forget that Houston Oilers have long since ceased to exist - assuming you’re part of the 50% of my readership who knew they did in the first place.
*History in the sense that in 100 years, no one will care anymore. That’s not to say we don’t know about century-old sports results, just that it’s hard for us to imagine these events today as anything more than “a bunch of dead guys running around.”