Old-Timer “Experiment” Rich in NFL, AFL History
By Glenn Guzzo
Strat-O-Matic gamers who have long wished for old-timer football card sets have their wish granted this year, as the game company experiments with a trio of past-season sets that cover the spectrum of Strat-O-Matic card-making.
The diverse seasons now for sale – 1965, 1979 and 1985 – will be a strong test of whether the desire for old-timer teams is deep enough to encourage the game company to repeat the effort.
The three seasons include one (1965) that had never been produced by Strat-O-Matic, one (1979) that had been produced in the outdated, pre-1982 format, and one (1985) that had been released in modern format, but without the updated quarterback
The experiment goes another step – each card set contains the six best teams of the season. Gamers wanting the complete lineup of teams can find them in Strat-O-Matic’s library of computer football seasons (which also includes 1966, 1968, 1972, 1977, 1981, 1998-2002). And with the game company’s new emphasis on customized computer managers, each of the electronic versions of these teams plays in the styles true to their different eras, making the possible matchups endlessly fascinating.
The “great teams” concept is particularly attractive in these three historically significant seasons:
n The 1965 season forever will be remembered as the last before a Super Bowl and the last before new franchises in
The carded teams:
The stars: Sayers and fellow Bears rookie Dick Butkus, the legendary MLB, were instant all-pros. Sayers is one of the most lethal Strat-O-Matic players ever – he gained 2,252 total yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry rushing, 17 yards per pass reception, 15 yards per punt return (with a touchdown) and 31 yards per kickoff return (with a touchdown) … Brown (1,544 yards and 17 TDs rushing) has perhaps the most unstoppable running card in Strat history – running the linebuck or off tackle, the only chance to throw him for a loss (without keying) is on a 2 roll guessed right on the linebuck. Get this: Keyed, Brown gains yards on the linebuck on rolls 4, 6-10 and 12. That’s 75 percent of the time. Most great backs won’t do that guessed right. Oh, and Brown cannot fumble on his own card, even when keyed.
QB John Unitas (9 yards per pass) and receivers Raymond Berry, Jimmy Orr, Lenny Moore and John Mackey give
Defense rules for the champs in
The disk: We all remember that the AFL achieved parity with the NFL when Joe Namath led the 1968 Jets to victory in Super Bowl III. But Namath’s eye-popping $400,000 rookie contract in ’65 did much to establish the AFL as a true rival of the NFL. Namath started the season on the bench, but became the starter before mid-season. … Pro football’s best offense was not in
n The 1979 season featured the fourth and final Super Bowl trophy for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ remarkable “Steel Curtain” dynasty of the 1970s. But
The carded teams:
Dallas QB Roger Staubach has one of the most consistent-quality cards ever, reliable at all ranges with high completions and yardage, low interceptions and effective scrambling. He’s got support from 1,107-yard RB Tony Dorsett, strong run blocking and dangerous WRs Tony Hill and Drew Pearson in the NFC’s best offense. … The Rams rely on a strong running game and a very tough defense, but it was backup QB Vince Ferragamo, he of the awful card, who led the team into the playoffs with three wins in the last four games, and then into the Super Bowl, where the Rams led the Steelers until the fourth quarter. … Until very recently, this was
The disk: This was the year when … The Bears, led by Walter Payton’s NFL-best 1,610 yards and 14 rushing TDs, qualified for the playoffs on the day George Halas died. FB Larry Csonka returned to
n The 1985 season features perhaps the most dominant – and most charismatic – team in NFL history, the Chicago Bears. Featuring the overwhelming “46” defense (“Supreme” against the run, and one of the few Strat-O-Matic teams ever to have all 6s at linebacker) that held 14 of 19 opponents to 10 points or fewer, Chicago won its first 12 games, finished 15-1, and made the post-season its private party, rolling to easy shutouts of both NFC opponents (the Giants and the Rams) and then demolishing AFC champ New England, 46-10, in the Super Bowl. The Bears had personality plus in unpredictable QB Jim McMahon and DT William “The Refrigerator” Perry, who occasionally doubled as a 308-pound tailback in the Bears’ goal-line offense. But this was also the only Super Bowl for Chicago’s classy Hall of Famers, RB Walter Payton (more than 2,000 yards from scrimmage) and MLB Mike Singletary, the league’s defensive player of the year.
The carded teams:
The stars: Though Miami QB Dan Marino “plummeted” to 4,137 yards and 30 TDs passing (from his record-setting 5,084 yards and 48 TDs in 1984), his card is gawking quality, especially those 19 chances to complete a bomb guessed wrong. There’s also 19 chances to hit the short pass guessed right … Here’s the West Coast offense we’ve been waiting for with the updated flat pass columns: Even without his best season, San Francisco QB Joe Montana (61.3 percent completions) has a flat pass card almost as good as Chad Pennington’s this year, while rookie WR Jerry Rice makes a statement (18.9-yard average) alongside vet WR Dwight Clark (10 TDs). Roger Craig is the consummate West Coast fullback, making both the tough yards and the explosive runs (1,050 yards, a 4.9 average, 9 TDs) while a serious pass-catching threat at any distance (92 catches, 11-yard average, 73 long, 6 TDs). Check it out: A fullback who goes deep as well as some wide receivers. Meanwhile, HB Wendell Tyler (5.1 average, 6 TDs) is a very credible alternative, explosive guessed wrong and solid when guessed right. … The Raiders’ Marcus Allen (1,759 yards, 4.6 average, 11 TDs) trails only Craig and Payton for most-impressive running card in this set. Howie Long is one of four Raiders with double-figure sack ratings. … The Giants’ Joe Morris had 1,336 rushing, giving him multiple Long Gains. But his 21 rushing TDs make him more effective getting the tough yards right than gaining substantial yardage wrong on first-and-10 or second-and-long. … With below-average quarterbacks, wild-card playoff team New England made it to the Super Bowl with its Excellent run defense, ferocious pass rush and strong special teams. But if you ignore QBs Tony Eason and Steve Grogan to gang-tackle strong RB Craig James (1,227 yards, 4.7 average), WRs Irving Fryar (21 chances) and Stanley Morgan (18 chances) are serious threats to burn you on the long pass guessed wrong.
The disk: AFC Central Division winner Cleveland (8-8) is here and so are three other playoff teams, the 11-5 New York Jets and two NFC division champs, the Los Angeles Rams (11-5) and Dallas (10-6). Also
This disk is the place to find a dozen 1,000-yard running backs (including the NFC leader,