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Butt Douglas

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  1. After the apocalyptic event that was the 1992 Tecmo Bowl, which saw the (SPOILER!) Eagles upset the mighty Bills for their first ever footsball championship in the post-merger era, the landscape was close to a Mad Max wasteland. To be honest, it was more like Beyond Thunderdome than Fury Road, but it was desolate all the same. But after banding together and working as one, your heroes of the Tecmo Bowl put the world back together while also finding time to stop another reality-altering event. So what does one do when they suddenly find themselves with ample time and a whole new world to play in? Find new ways to shred up the gridiron, of course! In this brave new world, our Tecmo heroes are foregoing all ideas and thoughts of what the game of football used to be. After all, why should Dave Krieg have to play game after game of football only to be cruelly reminded that he's on the Seahawks by Week 16 when his Sky-Miles card is cancelled? No, in this world, with a newfound respect for the earth and for each other, our Tecmo heroes have decided upon a new way to crown an ultimate champion—and they call it The Tecmo Cup. PREVIEW Pot #1 We look back to the year 1992, the last year our teams met to decide a champion, to start filling our pots. In that year, we were all too sexy for our shirts—but none were more sexy than the Buffalo Bills, who railed off 7 wins in a row after starting 4-5 to power through the playoffs and into the Tecmo Bowl itself. On the other hand, the Philadelphia Eagles were more smash mouth than sexy—head coach Rich Kotite notwithstanding—and posted one of the best records in the league en route to their trophy. Rounding off Pot 1 are the other 1992 playoff contenders who had the best records through 7 teams. This includes the perennial powerhouses of the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers, otherwise known as the "Hey, our division had to have 1 representative, so..." teams. Rounding off the Sinister Seven are the Houston Oilers, who will somehow find a way in pool play to have the best record but not advance to the bracket, and the Dolphins, who were seeded #1 in the AFC last year on the basis of a tie with the Jets. Pot #2-Pot #4 The final 3 pots of 7 teams are simply broken down by division, with Pot #2 containing all East teams, #3 containing all Central teams and #4 featuring the Wild West. This was done, of course, to keep divisional rivals and frequent frenemies from competing right off the bat. It was also done to protect our newly fragile world from an old-fashioned Lions-Buccaneers brawl. Join us next week for Selection Saturday, where our 7 Tecmo Cup groups will be drawn for and announced. We know you're excited! View the full article
  2. This insert will be available in all first-run copies bought from me, Butt Douglas, in person. This is posted here for those of you who've purchased the book online, either in physical form or e-book. Thank you again for your support. Dear Reader, Thank you for purchasing this copy of ‘The Book of Tecmo’ and allowing me to transfer the proceeds to charity. It truly was a labor of love. But it was also a labor of folly. I had all but given up on the project in the early Summer of 2013. In fact, I’d basically forgotten about it until Gannonball Run was officially announced in early January—that’s when everything changed. Soon, I was facing a monumental task the likes of this story’s protagonist, QB Browns. I had 8k words typed, and knew I’d need more than 50k to complete the story I wanted to tell. So on January 18th, 2014, I went to work. It was a scramble. I barely took time to read over what I’d written to get back into the groove, leading to perhaps more than a few continuity issues. But thanks to the patience of my wife and endless amounts of Caribou coffee, I was somehow able to miraculously finish the book, only able to write on the weekends, in 5 weeks. My own little TecMoWriMo (see: NaNoWriMo) as I called it. Unfortunately, despite this accomplishment, I had actually hoped to finish earlier in order to give it the proper amounts of editing. This was a luxury I could not afford, however, in order to have printed copies ready for the Madison tournament. Therefore, I ask you to please excuse all my little typos and grammatical brain farts. I hope to have these corrected in a 2nd edition for the generations of little Tecmoers to come along. I also have to ask you to excuse a glaring mistake I made early on in the book, referencing the ‘Run 2’ code that the players use to find the secret loft of the hotel. It was originally planned to be ‘Run 4’ (hence the combination the players use of the ‘A’ button and ‘Down’ arrow) but was changed to ‘Run 2’ due to the overwhelming preference for that play. While I fixed that with a simple Find and Replace, I made the editorial miscue of not fixing the combination. My face is full of egg knowing that this error exists in a book meant for faithful Tecmoers. It will be corrected in future editions. Not that I think I’m some Tecmo extraordinaire who can even successfully run that play… Anyway, thank you again for your purchasing this work and supporting me in this weird task I gave myself. It does not go unnoticed. I did it for you, the person still playing this seemingly simple game over 20 years later, with a love and dedication that is deserving of a work such as this—something you can curl up with in between rousing games with your buddies or online, or to read to your children (not recommended) as they drift off to sleep, dreaming one day that they could be a Tecmo Champion. Sincerely, Butt Douglas/Erik Bergstrom View the full article
  3. At long last, it's here. I truly feel as though I've given birth. Thanks for everyone who's stuck by me through the process, egged me on, offered advice and to those who have already gobbled up early copies. Here is a quick FAQ if you've somehow stumbled here on your own. Q: Why? A: My first love, believe it or not, isn't Tecmo. It's writing. Whether it's the cold drivel I write for my job or fun, meandering fiction, I enjoy it beyond measure. For a long time, however, I've been stuck. For most of my life, strange and bizarre dreams have inspired my writing, but I'd been without these friends for a long time. Just a few days removed from Tecmo IX: Marino Royale, I had one of those dreams—which is believable, considering how much Tecmo ruled over the past week or so of my life. So I woke up, filled a cup of coffee, and began outlining this crazy story as it came to me from the muses in my own little dream-world. Q: What? A: Along with writing, I also do enjoy a game of Tecmo Super Bowl here and there. Never did I realize the amount of skills or knowledge that some people possess, however, leaving me light years behind. Still, I find the game captivating for the same reasons the veterans do; one of those being the characters (just look at the past 2 years of this blog). Now, of course, the characters in the game are based off of real people, but over the 20+ years the game has been around, they've almost taken on a life of their own. And so, even knowing I may have to lawyer up, I got to work on yet another video game novelization—this time, based on Tecmo Super Bowl. And I sincerely hope you enjoy what I did with these characters that have been a part of your own lives for so very long. Hard copies are available now right HERE. If you're a collector of rare artifacts, I suggest you buy one now. I'm in the process of editing noticeable typos and possible continuity issues for a 2nd edition, but I wanted to get up the un-edited versions now for those who wanted a little treat before Gannonball Run. You can also get a Kindle version HERE. I am forwarding any royalties to the different charitable organizations run by the players I mention in this book. Some people have asked me why I'm doing this. The purpose of this is two-fold: I don't feel I should make money on the backs of others, and I feel the work these guys do is far more worthy and important than me writing libel about them for fun. Plus, I don't really expect this to make the kinds of money that would make a difference in my life. It's just for fun, and to see a smile on the faces of people who've kindly let me enter their fold on the Tecmo scene. Thanks again. Your resident Tecmo Bowl Writer, Butt Douglas View the full article
  4. Jim The honky-tonk music in the bar outside of Buffalo, New York had gotten louder. Or at least, that’s how Jim perceived it, knocking down his sixth Pabst. When he’d entered, he was flanked by his friends, each sitting on one side of him at the bar on stools familiar enough to know the contours of their aged and increasingly less-athletic behinds. Now the friends were gone. Just like the guys from his playing days that used to rule this bar with him. He was down to his last friend, the bartender, who was close enough himself to cutting Jim off. Now was as good a time as any to leave, Jim thought. Or at least take a piss, and ask for a roadie. But when he turned on his stool, a man was now seated next to him. A strange man. Not Al, his fishing buddy from Wheatfield. And definitely not Terry, his faithful buddy who’d accompanied him on many a hunting trip on the Canadian border. This man decidedly did not belong in the old bar outside of Buffalo, New York, and even Jim, in his drunken state, could surmise this. “I have been waiting for a moment with you, Mr. Kelly,” the man spoke, still facing forward, his voice husky and very direct. “Y’musta been waitin a while then,” Jim spoke with a grunt, attempting to heave himself of his stool. The man at his side reached out, steadying Jim, and with an unnoticeable strength righted him on his perch. Turning his face to Jim, the stranger continued. “Pardon me, Mr. Kelly, but I only command a few minutes with you. My name is Shimoji, and I have been sent by my colleagues to—” “Lissen, guy, I’m not sure you know whoyer talkin to, but I gotta piss. If you wanninan autograph, jes’wait here a sec—” Jim attempted another move from his stool but lost his footing, and a few forgotten seconds later he was in Shimoji’s well-tailored lap. “It appears we are well acquainted now,” Shimoji spoke in as humorous a tone as he could muster “Well,” Jim spoke, apparently defeated and backing up against his stool, “if you say jes’a few minutes. I guess issa’ most I can do for a true fan.” “As I said earlier, Mr. Kelly,” Shimoji continued, aligning his cocktail napkin perfectly with a crease in the aged bar, “I am not here for leisure or for anything as—banal—as a mere autograph. I am here strictly on business. To be frank,” and with this, Shimoji turned to meet Kelly’s clouded eyes for the first time, “if it weren’t for my business, my desire to be here couldn’t be further from the present situation.” By this point, Jim’s eyes had almost completely glazed over. Only the involuntary nods of his head indicated he was still conscious, though not necessarily that he was paying attention. “S’whadyou want then, a pikcher?” Shimoji slapped Jim clear across his face, getting a good area of cheek on the strike. Jim, in his state however, took a few moments to react, causing the hit to sound like a dull pat on an old melon. Shimoji turned to the bartender, asked for an ice water, and splashed Jim in the face with it. The reaction was a bit more desirable. “Hey—whadya—what was that?” “Listen, Mr. Kelly, and let me tell you that I demand your full attention.” Shimoji waited for Jim to wipe the water from his face. The old quarterback's eyes were much clearer, if not suddenly hiding a boiling hate. Fortunately, though his mind was now right, he knew his motor skills were still lacking and held his fist at his side. “I am here as a representative of the Tecmo Koei Corporation. I am here to deliver itinerary for a trip to California that your presence is desired at—” “Wait, hold—hold the phone,” Jim said, still with a slight slur, “can you just talk a little bit slower? I didn’t hear what you said in the middle there—talcum? I appreciate the opportunity—” Jim hiccupped, “but I’m through with sponsorships. Is this Johnson’s baby powder again? I already told them—” “Please, Mr. Kelly,” Shimoji interjected sternly, “you have done enough talking for tonight.” With that, Shimoji placed a briefcase on the bar and opened the gold clasps. From within, he produced an electronic tablet and opened a video player. “I had the opportunity to meet with an acquaintance of yours already, a one Mr. Kosar.” “Kosy?” Jim fought to stifle a laugh. “You’re taking business advice from him? Excuse me for being so brash—” he responded, flagging down the bartender to order another beer. The young man, perhaps a college student, lingered his eyes on Jim for a few moments, before reminding himself that the former Buffalo Bills great was the reason he was employed. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to be nosing around his neck of the woods.” Instead of responding, Shimoji brought a video up on the screen and played it for Jim. At first, the grizzled 55-year old vet only gave it minor notice, paying more attention to letting the stale, golden liquid inside his Pabst can run down his throat. By the video’s end, however, his eyes were locked on the screen. Shimoji returned the tablet to its case and locked a smug expression on his face, sipping at his cocktail, as he returned his gaze to Jim. After a few moments of silence so intense it nearly drowned out the honky-tonk had passed, Jim finally shifted his weight and without looking back at Shimoji said, “So is there something in there that’s supposed to impress me?” Shimoji chuckled. “Mr. Kelly,” he spoke deliberately, “you can look off defenders. But you can’t look me off. You recognize this game. You recognize its importance.” “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “You do, Mr. Kelly. Your sudden soberness betrays it. You see yourself as a legend here in Buffalo, New York. But you’re this run-down town’s only legend to look up to. Not yet.” Shimoji met Jim’s eyes as they turned and looked sideways from his face. “Do you think your legend precedes you, or do you feel you still precede your own legend?” Jim killed his drink and pulled out his cell phone. “Put the phone down, Mr. Kelly, I am not finished.” “Hey guy, just who the hell do you think you’re talking to here?” Jim shouted, for the first time with clarity in his voice, and jabbing his phone into Shimoji’s chest. “I’m motherfucking Jim Kelly, and this piss-hole of a town wouldn’t exist without me!” Shimoji put his hands up in a sign of peace, keeping his charcoal eyes on Jim’s face. “Be that as it may, Mr. Kelly. But you still have much to accomplish. You know that you do. Your hand, which only houses a Hall of Fame ring and nothing more, knows that you do. A whole generation that only knows of you by another name knows—” “I’m warning you to get out of my bar, son, before your head is the next one that hangs from my wall.” This stranger to the little bar outside of Buffalo stood, courageously, from his stool, and stepped away from Jim. “You’ve become a hardened man, Mr. Kelly. Many troubles have plagued you. You have a chance to right it all, should you choose to come to California—” “Get—OUT!” Jim cried, his face more crimson from rage than from the broken capillaries that already existed there. Shimoji once more put his hands up in surrender, and then bent slowly to retrieve his briefcase before paying for his drink and exiting the bar. Jim noticed for the first time that the juke box had ceased playing. He looked around at a bar full of eavesdroppers. “Well?” he shouted. “Get back to it then!” As the familiar twang of the slide guitar came back on through the speakers, Jim settled back on his stool and scrolled through his cell phone to the name ‘Nick’ and hit dial. A few rings later a voice came on the phone. “Kick?” Jim asked. “I need you to come pick me up from the bar.” “Jim—” “I know, please, don’t get into lecture mode again. Rough night tonight, I just need to get home to Jill.” “Jim, I’m in California.” Puzzled, Jim pulled the phone away from his face and looked at it, as if searching for an answer. He brought it back to his ear. “What? California? Why—what for?” “I—I don’t know quite yet, I was put on a plane by this company out here to come to some anniversary party.” “Kick, you’re pullin’ my leg, now come out with it.” “I’m serious, Jim. The guy who sent me, some stocky little Asian man, he says he was coming to look for you, too.” Jim hastily hung up the phone call and stared at the device, confused. He shook his head and slammed the phone down on the bar, then reached for his can of beer which he’d forgotten he had emptied. Slamming that down too, he noticed for the first time a manila folder on the stool next to him where the stranger had been sitting. Jim picked it up with shaky hands, noticing ‘Kelly’ written in neat penmanship on the tab of the folder. After a moment’s hesitation, Jim set the folder on the bar and opened it, spreading the contents out. Plane tickets, a hotel reservation, some sort of a pass with his name printed over the words ‘Tecmo Koei’ and ‘Tecmo Super Bowl’. He shut the folder quickly, thinking perhaps he’d push its contents back into those few moments ago where they didn’t exist to him. But it was no use. Over another beer, Jim called his friend back on the phone. “Kick,” he answered first, “I think I’m going to California.” View the full article
  5. Bernie The man was standing at the far end of Bernie’s rock garden, his back turned. Bernie approached him casually, yet cautiously, hands in the pockets of an older pair of jeans he called his “weekend jeans”. The man who stood in his garden was wearing a tailored suit. Hearing Bernie approach, the man extended an arm out to his side, stopping Bernie in his tracks. Then, smooth as the linen of his suit, he turned and with a smile put the hand out for Bernie to shake. Similar to his initial approach, Bernie extended his own arm cautiously and shook the man’s hand. “Hope I didn’t startle you coming up on you like that,” he said. The man continued to smile, almost reptilian-like. “Not at all, Mr. Kosar,” he spoke, his voice fluid and deeply rich in timbre. “Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Shimoji.” Bernie fought to stifle a sudden laugh. The man spoke his cartoonish name with such sincerity it was nearly enough to catch the usually humorless Bernie off guard. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Shimoji—” “Not ‘Mr.’ Shimoji. Shimoji. One name. That is all.” “Excuse me—” “No need to be excused. And I won’t waste your time trying to figure out why I’m here,” he continued. “I come here from your country’s state of California. I am here strictly on business—” Bernie felt the lump growing in his throat. Business…the word careened off the insides of his skull. What could it possibly be now? Do they want my last good leg? “I sense the concern in your eyes. Trust me, Mr. Kosar, this is good business. Opportune business. Come, walk with me through your beautiful garden.” Shimoji turned on his heel and slowly began walking, his hands clasped behind him, admiring the hostas and evergreens planted amongst the different shelves of rock. “It’s nothing much, more a hobby real—” “The business in which I’d like to discuss with you is in regards to a profession from your past,” he continued in his matter-of-fact tone. “Your…first…career. The more successful one.” “Playing football?” Shimoji smiled again. “Yes, what you Americans call ‘football’.” Bernie’s heart skipped one beat, and then began fluttering. Are they finally giving me a job in football again? He’d thought of his failed interviews across different NFL teams; head coaching, assistant coaching, wellness training—hell, he’d even offered to work cleanup crew as soon as shit began spraying from the fan. California? He thought. It’d be quite the uprooting, but maybe the sun would help him heal. Help his family heal. It’d sure beat some of those cold, windy Ohio winters. “I’m afraid to say I have little knowledge of what you could possibly be referring to,” Bernie said. “I know I’ve been working hard to get control of my concussion symptoms, and—” “This is far from what you think it could be.” Shimoji stopped and turned in front of Bernie to face him. “Mr. Kosar, I am an associate for the Tecmo Koei Corporation, American division. Are you familiar with our products—what you Americans call a ‘video game’?” Bernie was visibly puzzled. He tried to glean a clue from the dark eyes of the stranger. An endorsement deal? was his only thought. What could they possibly want my old leathery face to endorse?“Familiar, I—I, I don’t really know that I can say I’m familiar,” Bernie replied. “I am speaking specifically of the game, Tecmo Super Bowl. It was released in your country in the year 1991. Do you recall the particular game I am referencing?” The conversation continued to become more and more bizarre to him the longer he stood in his garden with this man from California. Bernie was tempted to look behind to see if Tami, his girlfriend, would be standing there to rescue him should he give her the signal. She was the one that let this nut into his backyard in the first place. “I’m sorry, what is it called? Super Techno Bowl?” “The full name of the game is Tecmo Super Bowl, having been released by the Tecmo Corporation in 1991. The game was licensed with both your National Football League as well as the League’s Players Association,” said Shimoji. Bernie saw a few lights dancing in his head; however, these were different than the ones he’d see before feeling light-headed. Items began to crop up, such as discussions with fans at signings and over his social media. “Okay, so what is it you want with me? If I can be frank, I’ve maybe played the game once or twice back when it was—when did you say? 1991?” “Being that you were not a part of your Players Association’s marketing agreement during the development stages of the game, neither your name nor your likeness were used.” “Woah, okay, take a step back here. I’m completely lost now. You want money? Is that it? Listen, I don’t know who sent you, but you have to tell them to back off. This is enough. I’m trying to get my family—” “This is not about money, Mr. Kosar,” Shimoji interrupted. “Unless, of course, that is what it will take to get you to join me and your fellow associates in California.” Bernie half-expected to see a forked tongue slither past that bright smile of his. “Fellow associates? What fellow associates?” Shimoji turned to continue his loop through the garden. “I have been sent by my company to gather up a th anniversary celebration at our headquarters in Burlingame, California. Specifically, I have been asked to request you, in person, to attend and be our guest of honor.”group of former players who were featured in the video game I referenced for a special 25 Bernie fought against the throbbing at his temples. This was all just too much to comprehend on a Saturday morning. “Guest of honor?” He laughed. “I’m not sure why you’d request me. Isn’t there someone more important on that game? Did Marino decline?” Shimoji continued on at his plodding pace. “You have been requested to attend as the guest of honor and for us to finally rectify your noticeable absence from the game. While the ceremony, in general, is to honor the continued success of the game for the past quarter century, it is you and another associate of yours, Mr. Jim Kelly, who we would like to bestow with honors.” I’m going to throttle Tami when I get back in the house, Bernie thought. He sighed, trying to figure out a way out of the situation at hand. “When—when is this ceremony?” “Will you attend?” “Well I need to know if it works with my schedule. When would it be?” “And pardon me, Mr. Kosar, but I need to know if you will attend. Whatever the circumstances may be.” “You’ll have to excuse me if I’m a little bit apprehensive about all this. It’s all just sort of coming out of the blue. Techno Super Bowl? An honorary celebration of a video game? It’s all just so—it’s all so absurd.” “Very well, come with me.” With that, Shimoji picked up his pace and led Bernie to the front of the garden where a briefcase sat leaned up against a larger stone. He was short, Bernie composed, but he was quite fit. He nearly burst his suit at the seams when he leaned over to unclasp the case and pull out an electronic tablet. “I would like to show you something, Mr. Kosar.” In a matter of seconds, a video was playing on the device. A group of men were all gathered in what appeared to be a dimly lit bar, surrounded by glowing screens. The noise that came from the speaker was a rattling mixture of cacophonous chattering and archaic electronic music. Every once in a while, the jumbling of voices would reach a loud crescendo of amazed “ohhhhh!”s as the people in the room all moved like a herd to one of the larger glowing screens. Over the course of about five minutes, Bernie watched in puzzlement as the video switched between this view and close-ups of two people engaged in what appeared to be a normal video game battle; though their faces spoke differently. One of the men in the video showed up a few times, a taller man with glasses and a distinct quality to his voice. At one point while he was engaged in battle, the camera focused on another man near him, who spoke: “Mort’s just magic in this tournament—he’s just…magic.” Shimoji closed the video before it was finished and stowed the tablet back in his case. He dusted off what appeared to be nothing from the fronts of his pants and then looked at Bernie with earnestness in his eyes, before speaking. “The game was made in 1991. This video is from 2012, just 3 years ago. Over 150 men were gathered at a bar in the Midwest competing until only one remained. That person was proclaimed the greatest to have ever played.” A vein in Shimoji’s temple grew, signifying to Bernie how serious this silliness really was. “This is more than just a video game, Mr. Bernie Kosar. This is now a piece of the culture of your country. We are humbly asking that you come to California and join your fellow associates who are being honored for their immortalization in this game. And we are humbly demanding that you, Mr. Kosar, come to be immortalized yourself.” Bernie sighed, sliding his hands into the pockets of his weekend jeans. He looked to the patio door. Tami was not there. “If it’s for a good cause—if there will be people I know and it’s to support the sport of football—” He paused. Still no Tami. “I have to know when it is. I’m supposed to see my kids soon.” “The ceremony is one week from today, Mr. Kosar.” His eyes widened. “One week?” Shimoji answered with a stern glare. “I can’t swing one week, I’m sorry. My kids are going to be here next week—” “You will be there in one week from today, Mr. Kosar. That is all.” Without giving Bernie a chance to reply, Shimoji picked up his briefcase and exited the backyard, leaving the 52-year old man standing there at the edge of his rock garden, stunned. An hour ago, he was preparing to come out and tend to his plants in this very garden. An hour ago, he’d had the next few years of his life planned out. It was all just simple things, part of his plan to keep his brain from swelling and legs from buckling. Now, they were in the process of doing both simultaneously. Had it been a vision? Was he still lying in his bed, Tami down in the kitchen preparing his breakfast and coffee? Bernie blinked and heard a car door slam. A slight squeal of rubber on the road and the flash of a red sports car between the gap of his and his neighbor’s suburban home. This had not been a part of the plan. Then he thought about those early morning hours in which he stood there, eyes locked on that empty space in his trophy cabinet. The missing AFC Championship, his ticket to the Super Bowl. That had not been part of the plan either. And when he blinked again, strangely enough, the glow of the television sets in Shimoji’s video still lingered behind on the backs of his eyelids. View the full article
  6. Bo After tightly hugging the curve, the red Lamborghini with black racing stripes raced back to near 100 mph on the straightaway. The driver, a stocky black man, kept just one hand on the wheel as he chased the sun along the Southern California coastline. Next to him in the passenger’s seat sat a smallish, older man with a folder set neatly on his lap and his hands clutched, white-knuckled, to the sides of his seat. Over the steady roar of the 700hp engine, the man spoke: “Don’t—don’t you think you ought to slow down?” The corner of the driver’s lips turned up in a smirk as he chuckled. With his eyes maintained on the road, he replied, “I ought to slow down.” And so, as if in a challenge, the driver pushed the speedometer over the 100 mph mark. The passenger leaned his head back, more from the feeling of his stomach acids churning than from the G-force, which was noticeable, and let out a quiet groan. Approaching another curve along the mountainside, the driver took his foot off the pedal and coasted around it, slightly unaware of the growing scream of his travel partner. The driver’s name was Vincent. Vincent Edward Jackson. But to his friends, he was simply known as ‘Bo’. In fact, he’d been called that so long he couldn’t even remember when it started. A nickname from his father when he was a child. The one thing from his younger life he still hadn’t found a way to put behind. “So-so as you can see, she’s got, got—she’s got an impressive horsepower,” the passenger spoke, noticeably paler than before. “And she runs like—like—like a top.” Bo laughed. “She runs good, all right,” he spoke quietly, below the hum of the engine. Run. It was a word he’d said many times and heard even more. Run. Yes, he could run just as well as the finest Italian sports cars could tear down the California coastline. He could hug corners, change direction on a dime. He could control his own destiny with his feet. The wind simply rolls where it can, looking for the path of least resistance. But Bo…Bo ran where he wanted to—resistance be damned. The car raced past a cruiser tucked away in a dimple of the mountainside. Immediately, the lights flipped on and the siren’s blast pierced the crisp oceanside air. Bo’s eyes lingered on the rearview mirror for less than a second before he felt his foot pressing the pedal all the way into the floor. “Wh-what are you?” the passenger spoke, unable to finish his thought. He looked behind frantically as the cruiser flashed its brights, trying to get the Lamborghini’s attention. “You have to-you have to stop! You have to pull over!” Bo released the tension that had crept up on him. “No, friend. We’re ridin’ this horse into the sunset.” As if on cue, Bo quickly switched his foot to the brake and turned the car a full one-eighty degrees in a haze of squealing tires and smoke. From there, he brought the car to a stop and waited for his pursuer to close in before pressing down hard on the gas pedal once more. “Hooolllleeeeyyyyy sshhheeeeeeee!” his passenger cried. Steely-eyed, Bo raced toward a spot that appeared only he could see—a crack in the cliffside caused mostly by nature, though now perhaps, a bit by fate. With graceful precision, he steered the car into the opening of the crevice and flipped on the brights. It was dusk out, the sky still a mix of purples and oranges, but inside the mountain’s wound his visibility suffered. “You can’t be serious,” the passenger said. “This is—this is madness! Where are we going? This is—this—this is criminal!” “With all due respect, friend,” Bo responded, “your lack of confidence is a real character flaw of yours.” He traversed the sudden jutting rocks, keeping the vehicle running in line with the narrow path created by some ancient river. Behind him flashed an irregular pattern of high-beam lights. “Looks like the son of a gun followed me in,” he said. His foot added more pressure to the gas pedal. “Let’s see how well this corn-fed pig can keep up—” The engine of the car roared with each lunge he made on the pedal. As the walls of the mountain’s interior seemed to suddenly leap out in front of him, he’d adjust, almost instinctively, and move out from the way of danger. When it appeared the path opened in front of him, he took advantage and brought the vehicle back up to racing speed before having to adjust again. A quick glance to his passenger found that the squeamish middle-aged man had his folder covering his eyes, as if he didn’t have the power to keep his lids shut on their own. Bo jolted the car to the left, then back to the right to avoid a tricky zig-zag pattern in the mountain’s wall. “I can smell your wet Jockeys,” he said between chuckling. A fallen tree sat ahead of them, lodged, horizontally, between the walls of the crevice. The passenger ducked, as if his own head were in danger of decapitation. The car passed unharmed beneath it. “You know,” he continued, “the measure of a man’s fear isn’t in how he faces it—” A quick swerve to the right. “—It’s how he controls it. Facing your fear is a psychological feat. A mental feat. Controlling your fear is a physical one.” Right as he finished, he heard the echo of screeching tires and crushing metal through the narrow crevice, the sound carrying itself quickly. The high-beams behind them had disappeared. Bo kept the car in motion for another minute or so before they came upon a large boulder set touching both sides of the canyon. He brought the Lamborghini to a calm stop and let the engine run at a low hum before turning it off. The lights set upon the rock in silent acknowledgment. “Wh-what do we do now? We’re stuck here!” the passenger cried. Bo heaved a sigh, and then looked down at the backs of his hands upon the steering wheel. Before long, he removed the keys from the ignition, stepped out, stretched and looked to the sky. The stars had come out, shining down into the crevice of the California granite. The same stars his family was most likely looking on back in the suburbs of Chicago. The same stars he’d looked upon as a boy himself. Bo smiled softly. The passenger of the Lamborghini stepped out and looked sheepishly over at Bo. Soon, their eyes met and he was surprised by the calmness of Bo’s appearance. Bo approached him, handed him the keys to the car. “Thanks for the test drive—” he paused, looking at the man’s nameplate, “—Bill, but the shocks seem kinda tight. I’ve got it from here.” With that, Bo left the man standing next to the hot car, soiled pants freezing against his skin, and ran toward the boulder. Even with the bum hip he still hadn’t straightened out from his injury, he traversed the boulder like a spry, young man just out of college and ran, gingerly, the final two-hundred yards to the city lights of Santa Cruz, California. View the full article
  7. Jim He looked into the eyes of the creature. It stood, alert, afraid to make the first move. Not even a blink. Just a cold, glossy stare; a faint hint of cold breath escaping its nostrils. Jim grimaced, eyeing the doe through the sight of his Browning A-Bolt Medallion. “Come on, you lousy bitch...” he muttered, his hunting partner Brett within earshot but daring himself not to reply. He knew Jim was waiting for a broadside shot into the heart of the beast to take it down quickly; dead in its tracks. Suddenly, the snap of a twig. The doe twitched, unsure of its next course of action. Then the source of the clatter appeared: a young fawn, perhaps a yearling, moving closer to its mother from out of some nearby brush. “Look at that,” Brett whispered. Even in hushed tones, his southern Mississippi drawl was distinguishable. He turned to his hunting partner, expecting him to stand down. Instead, Jim let out a low moan as he tried to adjust his vision. “Jim,” Brett said, “Jim, don’t take the shot.” Jim’s response was a soft grunt and a quick sideways glance. He adjusted his position once more. Brett opened his mouth to speak once again, but was interrupted when the foot Jim was resting up against a stump slipped. Perhaps knowing her hunter's concentration was lost for that split second, the doe released the tension in its muscles and turned. Brett wasn’t ready for the shot. Neither was the doe. It collapsed where it stood, but didn’t give up the ghost right away. The yearling had already scattered, disappearing as mysteriously as it had come, leaving its mother to writhe in the frosted leaves of the forest floor. Jim set his gun down beside himself, wearing a crooked smile. Brett sat up from his laying position and scooted up against a nearby tree. He knew better than to say anything, but couldn’t hide the morose look upon his weathered face. He watched his friend, a man he’d gone hunting with more and more frequently over the last few years of his retirement, as he approached the still-breathing victim of his latest hunt. He’d seen Jim kill countless animals with expert precision—no different than how he handled the football during his playing days. Lord knows he’d seen plenty of bloodshed over the past four years; however, this felt different. This wasn’t the same, happy Jim, excited for the thrill of the hunt though always humane and fair in his process. From his sightline, Brett couldn’t see Jim drive his hunting knife down into the doe’s jugular, but he knew that’s exactly what the former Buffalo great was doing. The same hands that had thrown with such finesse as the franchise’s most prolific passer were now being used to kill another of God’s creatures in cold blood. All Brett could do was sigh and turn his head away. Think about something else. His wife, Deanna. His daughters. His granddaughter, who was now five years old, believe it or not. But all that made him do was to think of Jim again. The terrible loss he suffered nearly 10 years ago, in 2005, when his son Hunter died far too young from a nerve disease. Why did God bless me with such a beautiful family, Brett thought. Why, when he’d taken so much from Jim? The loss of his son had inspired Jim to start a charity for other sufferers of the same disease, and to raise awareness for the ailment. For the longest time, it had been Jim’s life work. Even at the beginning of their hunting trips after Brett’s retirement from pro football, that was all Jim could talk about. Hunter’s Hope, it was called. Hope for those stricken with the disease; that they may see a brighter future. Hope for those yet to be born, that there may one day be a cure. Over the past year, however, it seemed as if that hope was beginning to fade. Jim didn’t say as much, but Brett could see it. Jim’s eyes betrayed it. The way he’d looked past Brett each time they’d try to have a conversation. How his responses had gone from long-winded tales to short, curt responses. Sometimes yes, mostly no, usually a shrug. It was almost as if a new disease had entered Jim—or, perhaps a poison. A venom. Jim stood. His hands dripped warm, dark red blood, burning into the frost below. He turned to face Brett but didn’t look at his friend. Instead, he bent, wiped his hands in a patch of snow and retrieved his rifle. “We’ll have to get the ATV,” he spoke coldly. “I can help if—” “No—” Jim cut him off. Then, softer, “No. She’s too heavy. She’s—she’s got something inside her.” He looked off into the distance, removing his cap to run a blood-stained hand through his thinning hair. “Jesus, Mary—” Brett replied. He stood to match Jim’s height, trying to meet his friend’s eyes. “Did you know? I mean, how can that even be possible?” Jim stood silent for a long while, his eyes almost vibrating in their sockets. He chewed on his lower lip, breathing slowly. When he finally moved to speak, it was so sudden it caused Brett to jerk back. “I figured,” he responded, annoyed. “But it’s not normal. Must have bred late.” It didn’t make much sense to Brett, what he knew of hunting at any rate. Shooting a pregnant doe had to be extremely rare. They’d have to have bred out of season. Even by that token, Brett knew there was a reason he was always so uneasy hunting does. He’d heard Jim say some of the same things. Though now, with the cold, matter-of-fact way he was speaking, it was almost as if he knew—by how fat the deer seemed despite it being the dead of winter when food was scarce. Even if not, it apparently still had a dependent, perhaps ill-developed yearling still following its mother. Yet Jim had taken the shot. It wasn’t for lack of food, either. His cabin’s freezer was stocked with meat. Venison, wild turkey, a few other birds. He couldn’t see into his friend’s eyes as he prepared to take the shot. But he knew there was a taste for blood in them. A desire to extinguish life. And now he’d succeeded in not only taking one life, but two—possibly three. Though now he appeared as though he couldn’t be further from feeling any pride in it. Brett came out of his daydream to realize Jim was already up the trail a ways. “Hold up, Jim, I’m coming.” He expected his friend to stop to let Brett’s old, battered legs to catch up to him. But he didn’t. Not even a moment of recognition. The man he knew was fading. And now, Brett thought, I’m going to have to pull out every one of my tricks to save him. View the full article
  8. Bernie A layer of dust, thicker than normal, coated the bases of his trophies. Bernie swirled the cubes inside his tumbler of whiskey, his noticeably distorted face and eyes looking back at him from his reflection in the glass. It’s been awhile, he thought, longer than normal… The voice trailed off. But what’s the use? Another voice sprang up, more combative in tone. They’ll just continue gathering dust. We all gather dust, in a way. Bernie sipped at his drink. The liquid burned running down his throat, clearing out his nostrils. “Fucking rubbing alcohol,” he muttered under his breath. But that’s all you can afford these days. And with that thought still echoing in the chambers of his mind, Bernie took another drink. They were still all there. All-American in 1982 for Boardman High School. Share of the 1983 Orange Bowl title, along with MVP honors, in his freshman year at the University of Miami. He managed to crack a smile, thinking back fondly to the records he not only shattered, but still held over 30 years later. Of course, there were those first real tastes of disappointment the following year; the first real chinks in the young Ohio native’s armor. When you’re flying that high, it’s only natural that guys like Frank Reich and Doug Flutie would come gunning for you. His time spent at the University of Miami, the ‘U’ as he’d called it amongst his peers, was just a microcosm of the life Bernie would find himself battling through. Missed opportunities, bad breaks, and simply bad timing. And, of course, there were always the naysayers. The haters. The ones that despised his success, and would do anything to tear him down. Like Reich and Flutie had done during that rocky year of 1984, so had the collectors and bankruptcy lawyers. If 1984 was a dark year for Bernie, then 2009 was black enough to suck in all existing matter around it. But they didn’t take his trophies. The ones that existed behind that old pane of glass, inside that wooden cabinet collecting dust. And they couldn’t touch that part of him that still burned, like the embers in a campfire still glowing after sunrise. As Bernie drained his glass, he thought of the empty spaces still inside the case. More specifically, he thought of that one bare spot he left open between the accolades he earned during Cleveland’s greatest season in the last many decades in 1986 and his Pro Bowl patch from 1987. That one glaring hole that he purposefully left open to reflect the one that still weighed heavily in his heart. The 1987 AFC Championship that he had promised his faithful fans, his team, and his family. It was still the only trophy missing from his case. Some nights, Bernie would wake up with an anxious feeling and raced downstairs. He would shout through the floorboards at his former wife, Babette, telling her that something was wrong; someone had broken in and taken his beloved 1987 AFC Championship. Those were always the longest nights, where she’d hold him in her arms and vainly attempt to comfort him, help him remember. The 1987 AFC Championship wasn’t stolen, she’d tell him, because it wasn’t his to be stolen. His house was empty now. There weren’t any arms to comfort him on nights like those. Babette was gone. She’d left him; filed for divorce right as his own bankruptcy battles loomed like Lovecraftian mountains on the horizon. It was reported in the media that she’d split because of his irrational spending, the fact that he was “giving his money away”. Bernie knew better, however. Sure, he’d tried his best in his post-NFL career to remain successful and wealthy, slinging his way into risky financial ventures the same way he’d riskily sling balls down the field. But the field was different; on the field, Bernie hardly missed his man. He’d set records for accuracy, both during the season and in the playoffs. Unfortunately for Bernie, the real world wasn’t full of the same tires to shoot balls through. These tires had rotating saw blades between them, ready to carve up any amateur investor that attempted to pass through unscathed. The only thing he could attribute it to were his concussions. When he was on the field, his eyes were as sharp as a Great White’s. It didn’t matter if he was playing in the warm, early autumn air or in the throes of a famous Cleveland winter storm. He could always lock on his target, fire the ball at the necessary angle and velocity, and be sure that his man would come up with the rock. Now, his good days were when he wasn’t collapsing in agony or trying to fight out the increasing volume of ringing in his ears. The concussions were why he made those bad investments. The concussions were why he’d become so short with Babette in those final years of their marriage. The concussions! The concussions! The concussions! It was getting bad again. Bernie backed into the nearest chair, his favorite: a dusty, brown recliner. Brown. He smiled, rubbing at his temples. The ringing was beginning to fade. He’d learned since how to cope with the headaches. With the dizziness. There were things he kept active with. Yard work, keeping up with his fans on social media, his children. Sara. Hopefully, one day, perhaps she’ll forgive me and stop doing that…stuff she does. That wasn’t something he wanted to think about now. That was something he’d thought about enough already. He stood slowly, fighting the urge to look into his trophy case as he passed by, and brought his aching body back up the stairs to go to bed. It was 2:30 in the morning, after all. View the full article
  9. Congratulations, wives. We'll stop destroying your yards/houses/dreams As the ball soars through the air on opening kickoff, and the shutterbugs flash the lights of their cameras and space age cell phones, we can finally breathe again. We made it. Somehow, despite the slaughter of innocent children out East, the terror of an otherwise celebratory event in Boston and our beautiful planet teetering on the edge of a Third World War, football is here again. We can escape, at last. [Caption Pending Until Someone Sees This Movie] Things were questionable for a while. We were probably closer than we all thought at having Tom Cruise recall Baltimore defeating San Francisco in the world's last Super Bowl. But now, the rubber stamp is sealed and the flowing of sudsy grain water can commence. The signs, of course, had always been there. We all remember being collectively seated around televisions last April, trying to impress our macho friends by pretending to know that one kid out of Ball State picked in the 16th round was going to be big. Then there was the excitement surrounding the first preseason games, which postseason baseball still looks at with shades of green in the face. And finally, most recently, TecmoBowl.org came out with its annually updated Tecmo Super Bowl ROM, highlighting the achievements of mankind and proving our superiority in the galaxy. Here at TheTecmoBowl.com, we have been humbly trying our best to create a new September tradition to celebrate the return of the world's most triumphant conception: American Football. Over the past two years, we've brought the highs and lows that naturally come in a 19-week span. We've highlighted the heroes, chastised the chumps, and gave a respectable golf clap to all those in between who kept that oblong wheel in the sky turning. Sorry Drew, you missed out again We've turned it over and over in our minds, imagining a 1993 season of more breathtaking surprises and gut-wrenching heartbreak. Along with you, our dear reader, we anticipated the development of a young Mississippi boy after being displaced to the frigid Wisconsin tundra, and the arrival of a dimpled savior in New England, a team most Tecmoers look on with disdain. But just like the glossy black Jaguar helmets of our youth's youth, nothing can stay fresh forever. That's why, this year, TheTecmoBowl.com is taking the liberty of bringing you something new. And by something new, we mean something that hasn't been seen since the days of dial-up: the serialized internet novel. We felt it was only fair that if one group of weird, smelly cult-ish dweebs gets to have Lord of the Rings, another group of weird, smelly cult-ish jock dweebs should have their own epic story. Starting Sunday, and every Sunday thereafter up until the Super Bowl, we will be releasing a new set of chapters to help you feel a little more intellectual after an afternoon of wiping nacho cheese off your naked gut with a Tostitos Scoop. And yes, we've already cleared it with Obama to let your kid read it for their book report. View the full article
  10. Many traditions are practiced on the Saturday before the NFL's Super Bowl. Day-long marathons of past Super Bowl highlights. Fasting in order to be ready to drown your stomach bacteria in nacho cheese dip. And now, the internet's version of football supremacy, the Tecmo Bowl. Last year's contest was a barn-burner between Houston and Washington, going where no other football championships have dared in the Super Bowl era: sudden death overtime. It's difficult to outdo something when the bar is set so high, but if Dan Marino can still have love children in 2013, then damn it, the Tecmo Bowl can still be an edge-sitter's dream come true. This year, Buffalo takes an 11-game win streak into the Tecmo Bowl with a healthy and helmeted Thurman Thomas carrying the team across a playoff field of worthy contenders to sunny Phoenix, Arizona. There, they'll meet the Philadelphia Eagles, winners of 12 games and the all-around best team out of the very competitive NFC. We've already done the breakdowns and examined the minutia of this match-up, so let's head to balmy Phoenix and the Sun Devil Stadium, where Coach Marv Levy is ripping off the sleeves of his new Bills sweater with disguised anger. Thanks to the unstoppable system of tubes called the internet, video footage of the game has already . If you're the visual type, you may want to watch highlights there. Otherwise, enjoy this supplementary text, nerd. The Tecmo Bowl Quarter One A rocketing kick off the ankle of Roger Ruzek has Buffalo pinned at their own 4-yard line. The Bills, undeterred from this predicament thanks to their own potent offensive weaponry, get started with the Thurminator right away, as he takes the rock 8 yards up the middle for some breathing room. The Eagles 'D' hunkers down from this point on, forcing the Bills into their first 3-and-out since the second quarter in Week 11. Philadelphia heads off their first drive of the Tecmo Bowl with delicious field position at the Buffalo 41-yard line. With Herschel Walker enjoying his team's Championship run from the comforts of his own hospital bed hooked up to a breathing machine, Keith Byars and Heath Sherman double-team to grind out some yardage. Randall Cunningham tries to switch things up by using his arm, though without a ball attached to throw he's forced to resort to his legs. Cunningham uses his bursting power to blow past some Buffalo defenders to get to the 10-yard line. And, apparently being too early in the game for the Bills to play strategy, Cunningham takes the exact same designed run play untouched into the end zone. Philadelphia leads 7-0 Kenneth Davis gives his team considerably better field position at their own 40, while Thurman proceeds to cut the field in half with a 34-yard scamper on first down. It's all Carwell Gardner up in here from this point, with two short, belabored runs mixed with an under-thrown Kelly pass leading to Buffalo suddenly needing a big pick-up on 3rd down in a drive that surely saw them coming away with at least 6. Unfortunately, the Eagles defense have their acute sights set on their prey, and feast on a pitch play to Thurman that force Buffalo to send out Steve Christie for the chip shot. Philadelphia leads 7-3 Quarter Two Cunningham tries to keep the Bills guessing on their second drive by throwing a game of "500" to his receivers. Without adding "dead or alive" kept them from laying out for his lame ducks, however, and when he tries to go on the run and is blitzed, Philadelphia suddenly sees any momentum they had being taken from them, dead or alive. Gardner tries his best to earn his Tecmo Bowl paycheck, but when losing two yards starts eating into his net pay, he opts to let Thurman take it on second down. Inspired by his robbery of the rushing title at the end of the season, Thomas lights up the Eagles once again with a pitch that he carries 38 yards across midfield. However, though he has his helmet, he forgot to pine tar his gloves, and the ball comes bobbling out and over to Tackle Andy Harmon who, after hustling behind Thomas for some reason, is able to return the ball back to his team's 40-yard line. And that's how you earn a paycheck. Cunningham, unconcerned with his own pay thanks to his latest Dodge Caravan endorsement, shoots an errant dart right into the diving hands of Safety Henry Jones on first down. With time suddenly becoming a factor in the first half, Kelly goes to the air on first down. His pass over the middle to Andre Reed proves to be a bit too saucy for the receiver to handle, so he goes back to the ground with Thurman. The Eagles, still not satiated with their last gnashing of Thomas, drop him for a loss of 1. They follow this up with a blitz of Kelly, putting the ball back in the hands of the inferior half of their team. Philadelphia tries to get a quick drive going with under 30 seconds to play, but the potent punt from Chris Mohr has them pinned a bit too far back. By the time Pat Beach is hauling in his obligatory one reception per game, the Mighty Bomb jacks are already synchronized huffing on the NFL shield. Halftime - Eagles 7, Bills 3 Quarter Three Thanks to the exalting ministry of a one Mr. Cunningham during halftime, the Eagles are graced with a second chance to start the second half, where the drive gets ripping early with a 21-yard run from the preacher man to midfield. From there, Cunningham keeps his completion streak going by heaving up a ball to Calvin Williams, who leaps, pulls it down, and runs past the weary Buffalo secondary for Philadelphia's second score. Philadelphia leads 14-3 Needing to start the catch-up process early, Buffalo goes to the only weapon that seems to be working in Thurman Thomas, who follows up an impressive 12-yard needle-threading run with a 56-yard scamper to the Philadelphia 11-yard line. Knowing that he's enraged the birds of prey, Thomas takes leave of the field to put the scoring duties in the hands of his captain, Jim Kelly. The enormous drop-off that Kelly has experienced since exposing himself (legally) to the masses is never more apparent than over the next two plays where his pass sail into uncharted territory. Even Thomas fails to cap off the large gash he tore into the Eagles front seven when he's called upon during third down, and Steve Christie marches out to the tune of 40,000 boos. Philadelphia leads 14-6 Christie follows up his near-miss from 20 yards out with a kick off his big toe that has Vai Sikahema skirting midfield. Sherman tries his best to eat up some yardage and time, but when he eats up the yards behind him Cunningham is forced to sear the air with another of his lobs. Though his completion streak remains in tact, it falls into the forearms of the opposing Mark Kelso all the way at the Buffalo 3-yard line. Quarter Four With the sun setting fast in Phoenix, the Bills get started on their march to a 12th consecutive win and a Tecmo Bowl Championship with a Carwell Gardner bumble for 2 yards. Things turn around quickly, however, when Thomas takes a sure loss 18 yards out to the 23-yard line, followed up by James Lofton diving for a catch in coverage to help Kelly complete his first pass of the game. Two plays later, Thomas takes another dangerous pitch play 29 yards to the Philadelphia 26, though all his fancy footwork is, at this point, only serving to eat up precious time. The Eagles' defense, as they have all day, stand their ground after giving some away, keeping Buffalo from converting on three straight plays to force another Christie appearance. Knowing they'd need a field goal either way, Bills fans aren't too enraged with this somewhat disappointing turn of events. Unfortunately, their bad vibes stemming from the Scott Norwood experience are enough to create a strong Arizona crosswind that pushes Christie's 40-yard kick wide right. Somewhere, Norwood's fifth bottle of wine suddenly takes on a sweet, succulent flavor. With a first recognized world football championship in their sights, the Eagles opt to make things interesting by calling a pass in the flat that is inevitably intercepted by Nate Odomes at Philadelphia's own 29-yard line. Kelly keeps his chemistry with Lofton alive with a throw on first down that finds the charismatic receiver wide open on the sideline. Buffalo scores their first touchdown, though time appears to not be on their side in more ways than one, with the option for 2-point conversions in the Tecmo Bowl still being debated somewhere on a message board in the Midwest. Philadelphia leads 14-13 The Eagles wisely start things a little more conservatively on their next drive, though Buffalo comes at them with a renewed sense of what's at stake, with two straight blitzes knocking Philadelphia back near their own end zone. Needing a first down to seal the deal, Cunningham once severely underthrows a receiver, this time being Fred Barnett. The young receiver makes a heroic effort on the national stage, coming back for the ball and pulling it in for a first down. Philadelphia continues to drive out from under the shadow of a humiliating comeback defeat, though Cunningham fittingly ends the game by fumbling as time expires on the 1992 Tecmo Bowl season. Final Score: Eagles 14, Bills 13 Yes, somehow this was a game featuring the two best teams from a 28-team field in this year's Tecmo Bowl season. Whether they were both out of gas from dominating their respective conferences during the regular season, or they were just there to prolong the party from the night before, both teams put on a rather pathetic showing in the game of the year. Thurman Thomas was the most skilled player on the field, though even he committed a very costly mistake that remains one of the many turning points in this close-fought contest to give the Championship away. That Buffalo couldn't pull out a win after three Cunningham interceptions and a fumble says a lot about the legs of this team, which appeared infallible after a dominant 11-game win streak. The MVP of this game is a rare collective one, given out to the Philadelphia defense for not only saving their offense's ass, but also exposing Buffalo's greatest weakness: their chew-spitting, gun-toting, uncomfortable with the limelight quarterback, who only completed two passes--both coming after about three and a half quarters. Congratulations, Philadelphia, you've got your first football championship. Now go home before anyone notices. The season may be over, but our head writer, Butt Douglas, will be defending his own 1-2 record at the next Madison, WI tournament: Tecmo IX: Marino Royale. If you're not signed up, you can still go and cheer him and the rest of the 200+ competitors on and keep the exciting Tecmo momentum going! View the full article
  11. Another turning point, a Pete Metzalaars stuck in the road. And now, we're grabbing you by the wrist to force you to watch just one more game this season: the 1992 Tecmo Bowl. There were plenty of turning points and places where this season could have veered off the road, however their has always been just one, predestined game to cap it all off. Buffalo versus Philadelphia. Chicken versus Steak. Super Bowl ineptitude versus Super Bowl absence. It all ends here. Despite the fact that football teams in the National Football League take the field against another team each and every week, the road to a football championship is a long and lonely one. Each team must find their own way. They must fight their own battles and find ways to keep their own fans at bay. After losing four Super Bowls in a row, Buffalo had to figure out a new formula. And after winning just 4 games in their first 9, Buffalo fans were getting out the Formula 409 to wipe their team off the grid. The Bills answered their fans' challenge, however, and since their 10th game they haven't lost. They haven't even come close. Buffalo has controlled the road to their championship behind a Top 5 Defense and the best running back in the league, Thurman Thomas. They went up quickly on Pittsburgh, then held them off before laying waste to the AFC's best in Houston and San Diego. And though Jim Kelly has seemingly forgotten his role since losing the 'QB' before his name, he's kept enough poise and leadership to make sure his team doesn't lose sight of their goal. Philadelphia is a city filled with proud sports fans, though their football franchise has certainly left them with little to be proud of. Participants in only two Super Bowls spaced a quarter century apart, the Eagles have lost both without much of a fight. Philadelphia may be the host city to Rocky Balboa, however the level of fight they routinely bring to the big show is lacking. This year, things are different. Philadelphia took the road well-travelled, and it made all the difference in their ability to plow through their division en route to the Number 1 seed in the NFC and a walk through the playoffs. If Philadelphia is set to wear the choke collars during the Tecmo Bowl, they haven't let on as of yet. Their talent isn't spoken to in their numbers, with mediocre offensive and defensive rankings, though they carry the ultimate X-Factor: the ex-QB Eagles, Randall Cunningham and an athletic ability that has him soaring each week as high as his aptly-named mascot. Buffalo Philadelphia 11-5 Season Record 12-4 3-0 Featured Games 2-1 2-2 Same Opponents 3-1 402/310 PF/PA 409/327 25th (2338) Pass Ranking 19th (2583) 3rd (2222) Rush Ranking 4th (2041) 9th Overall Offense 8th 18th (2934) Pass Defense 20th (2949) 1st (1064) Rush Defense 15th (1535) 5th Overall Defense 18th 5.1 QB 40-yard Dash Less than 12 parsecs Soldier, Showman and Mascots Predator, Pilot and record-breaking bison hunter Known For record-making rock band The "Queen" City Cities City of "Brotherly Love" Next to big body of water Known Big bodies filled with water Hot wings For Hot air And now, the lonely roads of both teams are about to get a little more crowded, as the numbers 1 (Buffalo) and 2 (Philadelphia) ranked teams in our final Power Rankings fittingly meet here in a game of destiny. Meet us next week at the Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona where Randall Cunningham returns to a popular site during his college heyday while playing with UNLV. Also, Jim Kelly played for the USFL Houston Gamblers, so traveling all night from Sin City to the Tecmo Bowl isn't necessarily out of the question. View the full article
  12. 28 teams started, and now only 4 remain. Are they the best of the best? That's hard to say. Like a quiet rebel, many good teams have fallen before their time. The one thing that separates those teams from these four, however, is the one simple fact that they couldn't win in the big game. Today, we'll see one team that was on the outside looking in halfway through the season, and then railed off 9 wins in a row (including 2 in the postseason). Another never knew the meaning of calm, tussling with two other teams for a division crown until the very last week. There's a squad that's new to late January football, outside of their quarterback that was so close to a gold ring last year. And finally, a team that's always played the quiet character roles in the playoffs but never saw the fireworks and jet fighters in February. It's all going to be settled right here, right now, on Conference Championship Weekend. AFC Championship 4 Buffalo (13-5) at 3 San Diego (12-6) Quarter One Sometimes, one gets the feeling for how a game's going to go even within the first minute or two. It could be the look in a player's eyes. It could be the electricity in the air. Or it could be Kenneth Davis returning your team's kick to your own 7-yard line, setting up a direct snap to Thurman Thomas for his first touchdown of the day. Buffalo leads 7-0 The Chargers didn't get this far by making things easy on themselves, however. And that was never more evident than when, after two quick plays put them in scoring position, Stan Humphries lobbed up a flea-flicked pass into the end zone that's easy-'pickin's for Henry Jones. The Bills start with a little less-favorable field position at their own 20, but find it pretty easy to flip the field with Thurman Thomas and Andre Reed. James Lofton brings down a 15-yard pass to get back inside the red zone, the only place Thurman Thomas visits more than Mount Cavalry Baptist church. And just as Derek Schaul, the 1995 Illinois State Tecmo Champion, proclaimed all those many years ago, "Ain't no stoppin' me...Ain't no stoppin' Thurman T!" Buffalo leads 14-0 Quarter Two After a decent return, the Chargers finally get the gears turning behind Humphries and Anthony Miller, with Miller pulling down a 35-yard completion over the heads of two Buffalo defenders. Rod Bernstine gets his first called run of the game but hits a wall, leading to the team's previous rusher and current secret weapon, Marion Butts, grabbing a pass up the middle and running untouched into the end zone. Buffalo leads 14-7 Buffalo's biggest offensive weapon so far this game, San Diego kicker John Carney, comes through again with a blooper kick, prompting another stellar Kenneth Davis return. It's all Thomas from there, with an 18-yard pass sandwiched by two long runs, including a 14-yard touchdown scamper that has nobody with Bolt helmets within 5 yards of him. Buffalo leads 21-7 While the Bills are making it look easy, San Diego takes over fighting for every yard they can get. But Rod Bernstine didn't come all this way to drink his Gatorade for a small endorsement deal; he wants the whole prize package. Bernstine busts through the entire Bills' defensive line for 16 yards to cross midfield, followed up by two passes to 'Lightning' Rod that suddenly has the Buffalo end zone within sniffing distance. Bernstine falls backwards on first down, but just one play later he's back to upending defenders for a 7-yard charge up the middle to close the gap. Buffalo leads 21-14 With just under a minute remaining in the half, Carney takes it easy with his kick, allowing the Bills a chance for one play at the San Diego 46-yard line. That's all the field Thurman needs, outracing the defenders and the clock for a wind-sucking score to put Buffalo up by 14 at the half. Halftime - Bills 28, Chargers 14 Quarter Three Grace is found in San Diego when the Chargers don't have to start the half behind John Carney. Instead, with Stan Humphries under center, San Diego goes on a drive that eats up an entire quarter and has them back within a touchdown after some more back-breaking runs from Bernstine and long Anthony Miller reverses, including the gutsy call on 3rd and goal from the 1 to have Miller carry the rock across the line. Buffalo leads 28-21 Quarter Four Though much can be said about San Diego's work ethic and heart in taking up a whole quarter to keep the explosive Buffalo offense off the field, much more can be said about that particular offense's capability to score at whim. Pete Metzalaars brings down a Jim Kelly pass on first down at the San Diego 13, and with 4 open receivers on the next play, Kelly chooses Carwell Gardner to carry the prize to extend their lead again. Buffalo leads 35-21 After trying to replicate their methods from the third quarter, the Chargers finally realize that they don't get paid to wear Timex watches just for the endorsement deal and decide to go flea-flicker style to Anthony Miller. Humphries' pass is right on the clearly visible 'X', though only Miller apparently saw it as he's alone on the sideline and all the way into the end zone. Buffalo leads 35-28 Playing catch-up has been fun for the Chargers, but with time running out they'll need to find a way to pull out at least 8 points from their gaudy navy and yellow jerseys in just two minutes to keep the glass slippers polished for Stan and crew. Though two minutes seems like hardly enough time to blink for San Diego, it's an eternity for Buffalo, and it's the Bills who score the next barrage of points. First, after another poor Carney kick that leads to Gardner taking advantage of the bullseye on Thomas for his second score... Buffalo leads 42-28 ...and then Kelly choosing to lob it up to a wide open Andre Reed instead of graciously taking a knee after Humphries' last pass of the season is intercepted. Final Score: Bills 49, Chargers 28 The score indicates a Bills blowout, however outside the inexplicable late-second half touchdown run from Thomas and the even less inexplicable and unsportsmanlike touchdown pass to Reed with no time remaining, the Chargers were within a touchdown the entire game. Humphries will miss out on his second consecutive Tecmo Bowl appearance, while the Chargers, perhaps the best team in the first 3 quarters of the season for the AFC, will go home with the sour taste of Thurman Thomas' cleats in their mouths as Buffalo's 10th straight victim. 10 is a nice, round number, however it's the number 11 that remains the most important for Buffalo. Double digit wins in a row mean nothing if Buffalo can't bring home their first football championship since the merger. They've gone one step further than last year when they were a much better team. And though the Bills don't carry much sympathy with Tecmo fans, it can't be denied that the wicked stepmother of the AFC has now become the rag-wearing, pumpkin-riding princess. They were left for dead halfway through the season, and now they're in the Tecmo Bowl. *************************************************************************************** NFC Championship 2 Atlanta (13-4) at 1 Philadelphia (13-4) Quarter One Like they have all season, the Falcons provide the firepower right off the bat, as Chris Miller spreads it out to his receivers, from Harper Lebel to Andre Rison, to have Atlanta on the board after running it in himself. The Eagles may have earned their title as best in the NFC heading into the playoffs, but Atlanta didn't contend and conquer the best division in football without making fools out of a few defenses. Atlanta leads 7-0 Vai Sikahema takes his team on his back, keeping the trend of outstanding returns alive by breaking a tackle at his own 30 and then running untouched to the Atlanta 32-yard line. The favorable field position sets up for the most dynamic quarterback in the game to find Calvin Williams after faking a run. Score tied 7-7 The first quarter of this NFC Championship comes to a close with the score tied, but Atlanta driving behind the arm of Miller, who even makes a receiver out of 'Sub-Par' Steve Broussard with a 49-yard completion. Quarter Two The Philadelphia defense, one of the hardest hitting in the game, stands their ground over two plays to keep the Falcons at bay at the 2-yard line. Miller's a hard guy to deny, however, and when his arm can't do the job, his legs find a way and he's in for his second rushing touchdown of the game. Atlanta leads 14-7 While the Eagles are contending to keep it a game, Norm Johnson is contending for worst kickoff on the day against John Carney by botching one to the Eagles' 40-yard line, allowing for Sikahema to cross over to the Falcons' 43. Heath Sherman is the ball-carrier for a 35-yard run along the sidelines to the 8, though it's Cunningham, who's aura is so strong, that appears to dissolve any defenders in front of him to score. The rushing touchdowns by a quarterback margin has now reached a more stable -1 for the former Mr. Eagles. Score tied 14-14 The Falcons have controlled the pace of the game for the most part to this point, but a few close calls have them treading dangerously along the Dan Marino line after Tony Smith nearly fumbles the kickoff and Miller is saved by the cement block hands of Eagles cornerback Otis Smith. Despite these myriad miscues, Atlanta manages to break their way down to the Philadelphia 15. Unfortunately, the inevitable was only delayed when Smith finally coughed the ball up and over to John Booty at the 7-yard line. The long field ahead of him isn't long enough for Randall Cunningham to even the series to two-a-piece, with his 93-yard scamper as the half expires not only stunning the Atlanta fans in attendance, but completely switching the momentum over to the less-dirty but still slightly dingy birds to set up the second half. Halftime - Eagles 21, Falcons 14 Quarter Three Sikahema can't find his way into Falcon ground, though his run out from his own end zone to the 30-yard line is still quite commendable. Cunningham can't get anything going over the air, so he turns to his underrated ground force in Sherman and Keith Byars. The Heath-Keith tandem also struggles to move the chains, and the first punt in this Championship series is seen sailing into the second-tier dining porch. Atlanta's defensive stand effectively yanked the carpet from beneath Philadelphia's cleats, though it was the 80-yard throw from Miller to Rison that effectively swung the momentum wheel back around to the carrion feasters. Score tied 21-21 The Eagles begin again with decent field position, though for the second time in a row they're stalled when Cunningham's on-target throws are dropped by the receivers. On 3rd-and-10, a Jessie Tuggle sack is enough to push Philadelphia back far enough for the cameras to come out to another Jeff Feagles appearance. Quarter Four After two sacks of Miller push Atlanta to inside their own 5, Rison saves the day with a 23-yard completion to move the chains. Unfortunately, the air suddenly takes on a frosty chill when their next series is stalled due to the usually sure-handed Harper Lebel unable to bring down two on-target Miller throws in a row. With time playing the twelfth man for Philadelphia, they get going on a drive that sees effective running from Sherman and nice, short passes to Williams and Fred Barnett. When suddenly faced with a 3rd down situation, however, it's the unsung hero, Pat Beach, making just his 3rd reception of the year to convert the first down and get Philadelphia within striking distance. Cunningham races for a couple more first downs, setting up the famous juke-and-jive throw to a wide open Barnett in the corner of the end zone to take the lead with just over a minute remaining. Philadelphia leads 28-21 Though perhaps just 1:08 remains in Atlanta's season, there's nobody Coach Glanville would want under center than Chris Miller. After a huge Smith return to the 47, Miller calms the nerves of his offense just long enough to get them into a 4th and 21 situation with just 31 seconds remaining. The probable last play of Atlanta's tumultuous season has Miller throwing to perhaps the only player capable of calming the nerves of Falcons' fans, though he doesn't make it easy when his heel is nearly caught at the 1-yard line before high-stepping it into the end zone for an overtime-forcing score. Score tied 28-28 Overtime At this pace, the winner of the toss comes out with the clear path to victory. Perhaps that was the cause behind the unorthodox onside kick call from Atlanta after losing the toss, though they did come close to turning the game around with a recovery. Though Atlanta held the Eagles two drives in a row, it's the calm and collected play that Cunningham has exhibited all year that has him finding Barnett with the same play that killed Atlanta just a series ago that has Philadelphia flying into their very first Tecmo Bowl. Final Score: Eagles 34, Falcons 28 (OT) Some may argue that the best team in the NFC won't go on to represent their conference now in the Tecmo Bowl. However, Philadelphia's quiet dominance over their schedule, along with their shellacking of our Tecmo Bowl favorite in Dallas last week has the Eagles as a clear contender to take it all home. Atlanta won the hearts and eyes of many who had written them off at the season's beginning, though it's clear that this is a team that's just a few steps behind Philadelphia. After a start that would have killed many teams, the Eagles stood strong and came back, separating themselves from the vanquished Falcons with nothing else than a 93-yard scurry from the most dynamic quarterback in the game. Philadelphia takes quite a bit of their own dynamite into the Tecmo Bowl with the Bills in a game that's sure to see plenty of explosions even after the initial 4-hour opening ceremonies. View the full article
  13. With our last quadruple header such an unmitigated success, we thought we'd go with round 2 and bring you our next slate of 4 games in the Tecmo 1992 playoffs. Last week, we watched with either unbridled excitement or suds-drowning defeat as the Bills, Chargers, 49ers and Cowboys all advanced to fight again this weekend. Meanwhile, the teams that hit the exit ramp (Steelers, Jets, Saints and Bears) all provided their share of excitement during the season but were ultimately not ready to carry the heavy burden of being a Tecmo Bowl-worthy team. We'll cull our field to the final four today, and though we'll undoubtedly make some memories along the way, those memories will only last as long as the next game is played. Who will survive to their respective conference's championship next weekend? Let's get to our team on the ground. 4 Buffalo Bills (12-5) at 2 Houston Oilers (10-6) The Bills not only entered this game hot off the heels of their eight consecutive win, but also with a bit of a chip on their shoulders. After streaking into and through the playoffs last year, they were effectively bounced out by the Oilers en route to their Tecmo Bowl Championship. Thurman Thomas' late-season injury hurt his MVP chances, however his return last week has immensely helped his team's chances in the Championship. They'll see what their chances are against a Houston team with a reputation of a sleeping monster. Much like last week, the Bills ran out to a quick start behind Jim Kelly's unpredictable arm and Thurman Thomas grinding the grass. Unlike last week, they wouldn't bait the Oilers into building back their hopes. The defending champions headed into halftime with a goose egg on the scoreboard, and their fortunes wouldn't change outside of a garbage time touchdown. Buffalo heads into their second consecutive Conference Championship, though this time on the advantage of a hot streak unseen in any other blogged Tecmo season. With a back that runs 100+ yards and a surprising defense that held the potent Houston team to under 200 yards, this particular Buffalo Tecmo team has destiny on their side. *************************************************************************************** 4 San Francisco 49ers (11-6) at 2 Atlanta Falcons (12-4) Last year, this would have been a glamorous match-up for the 49ers, another walk-over on their way to a sure-fire championship. It's a new season, however, one that saw Atlanta put the screws to their divisional big brothers on two occasions. Due to the strength of the Wild NFC West, the Niners were threatened with the foreign concept of being on the outside looking in come postseason time. Thanks to a series of fortunate events, San Francisco squeaked in just in time to bounce out the Saints, whose apparent fatigue from pretending all season long got the best of them. Atlanta is not New Orleans, however, taking over the West in the last quarter of the season. Now it's just a matter of whether or not momentum will be their enemy. Momentum found a friend in Jerry Rice, who took a wide open pass in stride to score on the opening play of the game. Normally a tempo-setting play for the 49ers, it was not to be as San Francisco soon found themselves victim to the arm of Chris Miller. The unsung hero of the dirty birds found weapons all over the field, from football card favorite Andre Rison to the humble Harper Lebel. San Francisco kept it close to halftime, but with the ball being kicked to Atlanta at the beginning of the third quarter, it was going to be a difficult feat to play catch-up. The 49ers brought the margin to 3 on three separate occasions, however they couldn't take advantage of the few mistakes Atlanta afforded them. Only ahead by three, Miller was driving Atlanta down for another touchdown, though a costly interception led to Young being saddled with the chance to drive his team to a win. A fumble by Mike Sherrard in the 49ers' red zone, however, would turn out to be the microcosm of their entire day. And so the Falcons stay undefeated against San Francisco this season, and the Niners go home victims of their second sudden and crushing divisional loss in a row. *************************************************************************************** 3 San Diego (11-6) at 1 Miami (11-4-1) Miami took the Number 1 seed in one of the weakest conferences in memory, though it wasn't by sneaking in any back doors. The Dolphins finished the season ranked first in the power rankings after railing off 5 wins in their last 6 games. San Diego, another division champion, is the opposite of everything Miami represents, dropping 4 of their last 5 while seemingly attempting to give up a division they all-but clinched halfway through the season. The Chargers advanced last week, but didn't come off any more intimidating after winning behind the shaky leg of their kicker in overtime. The Dolphins started the game off pretty hot, with Bobby Humphrey coming off the IR to carry his team's opening kickoff to the opponent's 23-yard line. Quarterback Dan Marino looked as efficient as ever, threading the needle to a covered Mark Duper to go up by a quick score. Unlike last week, however, San Diego responded in turn with an 80-yard flea flicker from Stan Humphries to Anthony Miller. The two teams entered halftime knotted up at 10, but by then it was clear which team had control over the game. Starting in the 3rd quarter, it was all San Diego behind the Stan Humphries show. Postseason darling a year ago, Humphries finally showed the type of leadership to lead another Cinderella team deep into the postseason with two long bombs to Nate Lewis to lock up a Championship spot next week in the hostile Miami territory. Though the Chargers didn't leave much to get excited about toward the end of the season, they've appeared to start rallying behind the man that fell a failed onside kick short of a Tecmo Bowl Championship last season. This year, he's not only got the advantage of capable receivers but also the unpredictable legs of Rod Bernstine, secret weapon in Marion Butts, and a silent but deadly defense that not only picked one of the league's lowest interception-throwers 3 times, but also held a dominant offense to just 96 total yards. *************************************************************************************** 6 Dallas Cowboys (11-6) at 1 Philadelphia Eagles (12-4) These two teams know each other well, and though the Eagles finished out a bit hotter than the Cowboys it was a fair toss-up as to who would come out the victors in this contest. Having split the season series, the tiebreaker arose here with a win-or-go-home mentality all over this mother. Dallas beat up on Chicago pretty well last weekend behind their multidimensional offense, though the Philadelphia offense they would face posed a few more difficulties than the Moles of the Midway. The Cowboys got a taste of their enemy early after going three-and-out to open the game, followed by an offensive attack led by cast-off back Herschel Walker. Perhaps a bit peeved after coming up 2 yards short of a Tecmo Bowl appearance with the Vikings last season, Walker walked, ran and caught all over the Dallas defense, putting his team up quickly. By halftime, the Eagles were up by 12 behind not only Walker's prowess but the effectiveness of their special teams and defense, who scored a safety of Troy Aikman. Philadelphia's dominance continued into the second half, despite losing Walker to injury. With a chance to let up, the Eagles continued to pour it on to perhaps send a message to the waiting Falcons. We predicted this match-up for the NFC Championship with slightly different results, though we couldn't be more excited for Conference Championship weekend. *************************************************************************************** View the full article
  14. For the first time in The Tecmo Bowl's history 4 games will be covered in one day, once again highlighting your faithful writers' dedication to this great and selfless endeavor. Eight teams will collide in an orgy of Tecmo not seen since last Saturday night in your best friend's neighbor's basement. The results will still be the same; empty pizza boxes, drained beer cans and broken hearts as we'll bid farewell to 4 teams all in one fell swoop. As with most wild card showdowns, there are a few intriguing match-ups containing teams that fought tooth and nail to get here. Unfortunately for those teams, the fumes they're currently riding on are running clearer and clearer with every drive. Will teams like the Steelers and Jets survive into their divisional rounds? Can the Saints and Cowboys regain their early season magic before it's too late? Let's rip this band-aid off and find out. 5 Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) at 4 Buffalo Bills (11-5) The Bills have been the hottest team in Tecmo, railing off 7 wins to end the season. Perhaps what's been more astonishing is the fact that they've won the last few during that streak without Top-3 rusher Thurman Thomas. Yet now, much to Pittsburgh's soot-filled dismay, Thomas makes his triumphant return just in time to push his team over the threshhold. Though the return of Thomas caused a few prickly feelings for Coach Cowher and his team, they didn't get here without having a tough defense. Unfortunately, through 3 quarters of play, that defense was apparently lost with the luggage as Thomas ran roughshod over the field. By the time the fourth quarter began, Thomas already had over 100 yards and 3 touchdowns. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, had a safety and just one converted field goal out of two tries from Gary Anderson. But perhaps the biggest headline coming out of the first few periods of play was the fact that Barry Foster, the league's rushing champion, had just one carry for 12 yards. The 4th quarter told quite a different story, beginning with a 75-yard high-stepper from Foster. A defensive stop later, and O'Donnell found a few other weapons in Dwight Stone and Jeff Graham, the latter of which catching an open pass on the sidelines for a touchdown. A Darren Perry interception of Kelly kept the momentum with Pittsburgh and in less than a minute, Foster was carrying the ball back into the end zone from 30 yards out. While the Tecmo gods seemed to turn their favor towards the men in black and yellow, even they can't control the sands of time, which became Pittsburgh's greatest enemy. Though blame can be placed anywhere from Gary Anderson's missed field goal being the difference to Neil O'Donnell's costly interception in the red zone during their first drive, we really can't look past the Foster factor. Racking up nearly 150 yards in one quarter is a terrific feat, however it will now become more mootier a point than another inevitable Buffalo championship. *************************************************************************************** 5 New Orleans Saints (10-6) at 4 San Francisco 49ers (10-6) The 49ers stole a 4-seed from the Saints during the final week of the season, and now it may be the deciding factor in who walks away the victor and who leaves with a Bayou-sized bullet hole in their chests. Bobby Hebert was godly during the first half of the season, though the bandwagon could only hold so many of the converted before flipping over in a violent mess. The Saints' futility during the second half of the season is well-documented, though San Francisco would have no qualms about adding another chapter in how they defeated their crowned divisional rivals three times in one season. Tom Rathman returned to the fray, though unlike the return of another quality back, he couldn't convert on many of his opportunities near the goal line, keeping this one close for a while. The real question was whether or not Hebert could come out of his funk just in time for some playoff magic, though the beads stopped raining some time midway through the second quarter when the Ragin' Cajun took a wacky sacky and took a stinger to his finger. There wasn't much to know about his back-up Mike Buck, other than his passes looking like something on a Lucky Charms cereal box, yet he was able to drive the Saints down for their first score. Unfortunately, just before the half San Francisco would score twice unanswered behind two Mike Sherrard completions to put them up 24-7. The Mike Buck saga would be delayed until the fourth quarter, though the Saints bore some credit for keeping the streaking 49ers silent and picking up a special teams touchdown with a fumble recovery from Tommy Barnhardt at the end of the third. Down by 10 in the 4th, the Saints hearkened back to the same angels that led Washington over San Francisco in last year's divisional playoffs. Defensive stops alongside miraculous plays from Eric Martin and Craig Heyward nearly recited it play for play, leading to an obvious yet still chest-collapsing final heave from Buck that went over Martin's head by 15 yards. *************************************************************************************** 6 New York Jets (8-7-1) at 3 San Diego Chargers (10-6) The Jets came into this contest ranked the lowest of the playoff field, however a well-fought win over the Saints in Week 17 mixed with San Diego's putrid fall from best in the AFC to lowest common denominator suddenly swings this contest in Gang Green's favor. Looking for a wind of change, San Diego came out to the field wearing some classy yellow and blue throwbacks, which lasted about halfway through the second quarter when the Chargers suddenly found themselves down 10-0 despite Browning Nagle not having completed a pass. Just when the Jets seemed to have this unwatchable mess in their clasps, however, Humphries took his team down the field and capped it off with a touchdown connection to Nate Lewis right before halftime. The momentum carried over into the second half, with Humphries taking advantage of a fatigued Jets defense and scoring on a pass to Marion Butts up the middle to take the lead. Nagle, putting on his boyish game face, completed his first pass of the game just before the fourth quarter, subliminally swinging this game back over to the Jets for the final period of play. After a sudden infusion of ability, Nagle started looking like a playoff quarterback by threading his passes through the San Diego defense. When his efforts stalled, the Jets went back to the Baxter Factor that made them a success throughout the season, capping off a surgical drive that gave New York the lead. Humphries wasn't made from mud yesterday, however, and was able to channel his own heroics from last season on a 4th-and-25 from his own 18. With a stop, the Jets would ice the game. Unfortunately, the Showboat from Shreveport hit Nate Lewis in stride for a 45-yard connection. Having missed from 39 and 45 earlier, John Carney trotted out and kicked his team into overtime from 55 yards out under the greatest pressure of his life. A few plays later, Carney brought out his hot foot from 43 and struck it down the middle, graciously ending this stinkbomb. *************************************************************************************** 6 Dallas Cowboys (10-6) at 3 Chicago Bears (11-5) Chicago survived to play another day on the strength of their 40-21 beatdown in Week 17 of the very team they'll meet today. The Bears won on all fronts; outstanding special teams, a suffocating defense and the undeniable chemistry between Jim Harbaugh and Tom Waddle. Dallas was certainly caught off guard, setting their sights on a possible division title and winding up barely clinging to a 6-seed. Tonight, they'll surely play with some pissed-off pizzazz as they get the rare treat of exacting vengeance on the team that embarrassed them just 7 nights ago. Dallas spent exactly 3 minutes trailing Chicago before unleashing Emmitt Smith, held to just under 20 yards a week ago and denied the rushing title, to run downfield. Chicago kept up for the most part, tying Dallas on two occasions behind the bruising running of Brad Muster and Harbaugh's accurate throws. With the opportunity to head into halftime no worse for the wear, Chicago went out for a junk play just 8 seconds before halftime and allowed a 67-yard run by Smith, ultimately breaking their backs and shattering any momentum that they began six quarters prior. A week ago, Mike Singletary had Troy Aikman looking like a raccoon on the highway behind 4 sacks, including one safety. On this blustery Sunday, Singletary's absence was more noticeable than the sauerkraut in Coach Ditka's mustache as Chicago gave up multiple third-down stops, including a 3rd-and-25 that saw the Bears fall over behind Emmitt Smith's 30 yard run to put Dallas up by 2 scores. Though Chicago made it interesting with the contractual Tom Waddle touchdown and a blistering run from Muster that saw him crash through three defenders at the goal line, they just couldn't keep up with the blazing soles of Emmitt Smith and heat-seeking missiles from Troy Aikman. Chicago packs up a rather promising season the way they began; victims of their own delusional grandeur. Dallas leaves as the only lower-seed to advance, their targets set on Number-1 seeded Philadelphia. *************************************************************************************** View the full article
  15. In a season where heroes were made about as frequently as children in Boomer Esiason's hotel room, we come to a sudden and final closure. The history books still remain un-inked, however, with 12 teams still gunning for the ultimate goal of being the best algorithmically chosen 8-bit team in this blog's entire existence. Though nobody can hit a hole in one with every swing, early season predictions certainly rang true despite how hard Browning Nagle tried to stain the carpet like a dog with an itch on its ass. We can talk about momentum all we want, but the fact of the matter is these are the six best teams from each conference, here to duke it out for the honor of defending their respective conferences in this year's Tecmo Bowl. However, we can't truly deny the fact that the Ragin' Cajun, Bobby Hebert, is playing more like a Limp Gimp lately. A few of our teams will need to regain the magic that boosted them here to begin with, while the others will hope they don't lose anymore of their magic powder along those unseen fissures in the wooden table. As much as we'll talk about these final 12 in the next few weeks, it would be a shame to close the book without one last glance at the season that was for the remaining unlucky 14. Some of our bedridden fellows have a few fixable items on their list, while others will undergo the painful process of burning their coaches at the stake. It's not our place to determine the remedies for each team; that's their jurisdiction. However, if we had to don our tri-cornered hat and buckled shoes and rally up our pitchforks, we're pretty certain Marty Schottenheimer would have a few scorned glances cast his way. AFC East It's always a bit too simple sometimes to just take 5 teams and mash them all into records set on nothing but a Nate Odomes fart in the wind. And when you see your credibility falling apart mid-season, it's a bit humbling. However, these things tend to always work themselves out, especially in the game of Tecmo. We almost hit the jackpot on Dan Marino's squad (who will be running his own affair in debauchery and gambling at this year's Madison, WI Tecmo IX tournament, Marino Royale), while Buffalo came out of a midseason squalor to nab this year's Number 3-seed. The Jets were on a 'shock-the-world' campaign in the first half of the season, keeping neck and neck with their brothers in Miami. Though Coach Bruce Coslet faced down the abyss of spending the postseason on his mother's couch again, their early success behind a staunch defense had them clutch a 6-seed with a shocking Week 17 win over the Saints. And then there's Indianapolis and New England. We wave goodbye once again after handing out our participation awards, though the Patriots' 3-game win streak behind ROY-candidate Kevin Turner clearly shows New England on a different track than the Jeff George-led Colts, whose participation during a 10-game losing streak is still under question. AFC Central Houston's repeat division championship was never under question, though a few teams within the AFC Central bubbled up to the top to show the defending Tecmo Bowl Champions have a few new cracks in the pavement. The Oilers still have the honor of a first-week bye in the playoffs despite a 2-game lose out in the regular season, thanks to a Burt Grossman-sized implosion by the San Diego Chargers. They'll need the rest if they're to face a dangerous Buffalo Bills team or, as has been made clear, an even more dangerous Pittsburgh Steelers squad. Coach Bill Cowher led his rag-tag group of blue collar players through a tumultuous season, however one thing he does hold is two wins over Houston. Should they meet, they'll no doubt unleash the league's best rusher in Barry Foster on the unassuming oil fields of Houston's rush defense. No surprises in Cincinnati; with their number one pick going towards a lackluster college quarterback in Dave Klinger, there was no doubt Boomer would struggle to keep his cleats out of his mouth. It was the team out of Cleveland, however, that forced our own stockinged feet into our gaping maws with a push to the postseason, of which they fell miraculously short in Week 17--making their 8-8 finish about as useful as the 4 wins we graciously gave them at the season's beginning. AFC West Oh AFC West, AFC West, how we loathe thee, AFC West. We wanted to find reasons to love you, and unfortunately you gave nary a one. Chargers, yeah, you finished on top of this motley crew of individuals, though throwing away a first round bye by losing 4 of your last 5 can't convince us you'd fare any better than your other bumbling brutes you call division mates. Don't think we're leaving you out of this, Los Angeles. Usually, your lack of devotion to your craft and just overall lethargy keeps us from caring about the route you take to .500 by season's end. But when you start playing with the emotions of your fans, as guarded as they may be behind their black and silver cages, we can no longer stand idly by. With a chance for a postseason you never rightfully deserved on the line, you neither attempt to win or take grace in defeat. Instead, you tie your Week 17 game, proving once again that your team's existence is not a privilege but a right. A right that needs to be revoked. Thanks again for playing, you other three. We won't dignify you with your names, but we're still obligated to give you your t-shirts. Now go. NFC East Not to brag, but Nostradamus' relative does work here, and he does a damn fine job with our IT infrastructure if we say so ourselves. He's also good for picking arbitrary playoff teams weeks in advance, and with the NFC East he couldn't have come closer. Of course, his eccentric way of selecting based on 'pretty colors' may differ from his famous great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandpa, but in this instance it worked. Randall Cunningham's pretty tosses and fast legs put his experienced team, also led by a monster defense, atop this division, followed right at the heels by a young yet hungry Dallas team. Despite the finish, we put Dallas in the Tecmo Bowl, and though they finished with a weaker seed than we anticipated, we're still believers in their potent offense and a little backup plan entitled "The Steve Beuerlein Project". The Redskins returned with much of the same cast of characters they sent out in last year's Tecmo Bowl, but with the rise of the Cowboys and Philadelphia's resurgence, they were left without much more than a woeful smile and nice-job pats on the asses. New York's fall from grace under the weight of one man's facial hair was heavily documented, while Phoenix shocked the world by doubling the amount of wins we predicted with a successful 4-12 campaign. NFC Central In a league filled with turbulence, the Vikings stood as the one team to lead their division throughout the entire season. Unfortunately, their Week 17 comeuppance also left them licking their wounds when they were the odd team out in a 4-team race for the 3 Wild Card spots. Hot on the heels of a 2-game win streak, along with winning 5 of their last 6, the Bears usurped the division for the crown in the last week of the season. After blowouts put them out of the point differential race, Chicago realized they'd have to tear their way into the postseason based on wins alone, and now enter as perhaps the hottest team in the NFC. Green Bay, the main instigators of the power shift in the Central with their upset of Minnesota, enter the offseason a bit disappointed with their fortunes after a promising start, though shades of brilliance from new coach Mike Holmgren and Brett Favre have the cheeseheads wearing shades. Tampa Bay and Detroit. We could find a few things more interesting to talk about than these two teams, but then we wouldn't be doing our jobs. Maybe instead you'll still accept this ? NFC West Tales will be told of this division by the aging players to their grandchildren, as 75% of the teams will be attending the postseason. The NFC West was up for grabs the entire season, with Atlanta hitting the gas pedal around the last turn to take it in the end. Our hopes were low for the Dirty Birds entering the season, however they now take a 2-seed in the NFC and earn a much-deserved week off. Meanwhile, the Saints, poised to take the division in the early games, sputtered and now find themselves dangerously below 'E' on their gauge, falling from their own assured bye-week in the playoffs and hardly snatching a Number 5-seed. They'll meet a 49ers team that, though they underachieved, come into the postseason as hot as ever. San Francisco had their life support cable nearly frayed before Week 16 after some humbling losses, but their formulaic win alongside some help in losses from the Saints and Minnesota put them back in their perennial postseason spot, one that they'll enjoy marinating in. Los Angeles put up more of a fight than we thought, giving a good case to including the entire West in the playoffs with sound defeats of their division. They didn't repeat their Cinderella season, though we're sure to see photos emerge of Tim Lester in glass slippers during the offseason. *************************************************************************************** So there you have it. We've done the time, and now it's finally our chance to take part in our just deserts. Another season has come and gone, and for those of you who slept through the fall, it's time to wake up, put on that ill-fitting jersey, grab your chewed up foam finger and push for your favorite team. Whether they're a sexy underdog or an odds-on-favorite, there's sure to be no deficit in drama with teams like the Jets and Bears involved. Tune in tomorrow for a quadruple header of nonstop, gluttonous football action. Will the 49ers win their third game in a row over the suddenly muzzled Saints? Will Dallas get their revenge on the Bears just a week after getting mauled by a sharp-toothed Jim Harbaugh? While we all hope for one team out of the Jets-Chargers to snap out of their hibernation, there's sure to be fireworks when Pittsburgh and Buffalo meet and two of the top backs in the league collide. If you're not excited for some Wild Card Tecmo action, you'd better check your pulse and hope that the brain-eating instinct hasn't kicked in yet. You're only bound to go hungry around here if it has. View the full article
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