ALL-TIME FRANCHISE FOOTBALL
Strat-O-Matic’s Special 40th Anniversary Offer
By Glenn Guzzo
Forty years ago Strat-O-Matic brought such superstars as Joe Namath and Gale Sayers to our tabletops for the first time. Soon, those greats – and nearly 1,500 more – return to our homes in the form of the game company’s new All-Time Franchise Football sets.
These one-of-a-kind rosters capture the entirety of National Football League history by rating every Hall of Fame player and hundreds of other stars from 28 NFL franchises, plus assorted others – 30 teams in all.
The players rated on cards and for the computer include 390 carded skill players, 13 per team, akin to other Strat-O-Matic Pro Football card sets.
The carded players will be published on heavier, more colorful stock, similar to the recent Hockey Hall of Fame set, Strat-O-Matic creator Hal Richman said.
The teams will be sold in six, five-team sets (three AFC sets and three NFC sets), permitting gamers to match their purchases to their pocketbooks. A discount will be offered to those who want all the teams, Richman added.
Based on career statistics normalized for era, the sets will include only players who retired before the 2007 season.
Historic-season researcher Mike Kane, who is assembling the rosters and rating the players, reports that each player will be assigned to the team for whom he played the most games.
That means the Chicago Bears will have to choose between Walter Payton and Gale Sayers at running back, and between Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary at linebacker. Dallas has QBs Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, and RBs Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith.
“The 28 franchises are all of the current franchises except the Texans, Ravens, Panthers and Jaguars, who would not have had enough players,” Kane explained. “The other two teams will be comprised of players from defunct teams, Hall of Famers who couldn’t make their original team roster (such as George McAfee of the Bears nosed out by Payton and Sayers) and other players from the early eras who might not be otherwise included in a Strat-O-Matic football set.”
Kane filled in the blanks with these details:
These will not be teams full of 6-rated blockers and defenders. Only Hall-of-Famers will receive 6s (there are only about 225 HOFers and only 50-60 defensive HOFers). The remaining players will be evaluated in comparison to other players at the same position (a player who has received HOF consideration most likely will be a 5, while someone who has never made an All-Pro team or been to a Pro Bowl will be a zero).
SOM will recommend using the draft defenses in the computer game but team defensive cards will be created.
Player stats will be normalized to their specific era and then against NFL history to account for the changes in style of play throughout the years. This will help players from the ‘30s and ‘40s compete with those from the ‘90s and later.
“There will be some interesting coaching decisions,” Kane disclosed, citing the Chicago and Dallas examples above. Others include Cleveland’s fullback – Jim Brown or Marion Motley; the Rams’ halfback – Eric Dickerson or Marshall Faulk and the Bills’ halfback – Thurman Thomas or O.J. Simpson.
The anticipation builds thinking of some “interesting combinations,” as Kane calls them:
Dan Marino will have a running game with Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris in Miami.
Dan Fouts will throw to three Chargers Hall of Fame receivers – Lance Alworth, Charlie Joiner and Kellen Winslow.
The Browns can field an entire unit of HOF skill players. They have seven – QB Otto Graham, FBs Brown and Motley, HB Leroy Kelly, WRs Dante Lavelli and Paul Warfield and TE Ozzie Newsome.
Payton and Sayers will run behind one of the all-time blockers, Bronco Nagurski.
Although the number of Hall of Fame defenders means an average of about two 6-rated players per team, Pittsburgh has at least five (maybe six) – DLs Joe Greene and Ernie Stautner, LBs Jack Ham and Jack Lambert and DBs Mel Blount and two-way HB Bill Dudley.