The best football game of all time has nothing to do with John Madden. It’s not even a video game.
Nope, it’s Statis-Pro Football, a strategy board game created by the Avalon Hill game company, atleast until 1992, when the company sadly stopped production.
The game, for those not familiar with it, allowed players to coach real teams from a number of professional football seasons — at least until the company stopped making new player cards in 1992. Using a deck of cards and real statistics from actual NFL players, you could throw an 80-yard touchdown pass on a play or watch in horror as your quarterback fumbled the ball after a particularly brutal Lawrence Taylor sack.
I love this game. It takes forever to play, but when I do get the chance, it’s a nice way to kill an afternoon.
When I first bought the game, I played with cards from the 1984 season. This was when the San Francisco 49ers were king of the NFL. But the Bears were good, too. Remember, they won their division in 1984, albeit with a fairly pedestrian 10-6 record.
Those Bears thrived on defense and the running of Walter Payton. In the Avalon Hill game, players like Dan Hampton, Mike Singletary and Otis Wilson had great player cards. Even cornerback Mike Richardson somehow graded out as a strong player.
I played two seasons with my 1984 Bears. The first, the Miami Dolphins won, and my beloved Bears lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Giants. I played a second season and fared better. My Bears went to the Super Bowl, beating the 49ers and the then St. Louis Cardinals along the way. There they faced our league’s defending champion Miami Dolphins.
Payton scored the winning touchdown on the Bears’s last drive of the game and Gary Fencik intercepted a late Dan Marino pass to preserve a 21-17 Super Bowl victory.
You know, I was nearly as excited as when the Bears won it allfor real in 1985.
And, yes, I know that makes me a geek. But what can you do?