Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Few Words on Brett Favre, Tecmo Bo, and a Colossal Squid

I was never a huge Brett Favre fan.

I’ll readily acknowledge that he was a great NFL quarterback—one of the best. And I’ve long-admired the guy for his toughness, and for the way he seemed to elevate his play during times of intense mental anguish and physical pain. And, in a somewhat non-sexual way, I’ve always enjoyed his impossibly grizzled features:

Look at that face. Sweet Jesus, you could light a match on that stubble. And that chin, my God, you could clear brush with that thing. It’s like Michelangelo himself carved it out of, I don’t know, a bigger chin or something.

Oh, man. Whew! Where was I? Oh, right. Football. Anyway, I also took immense pleasure in the way that Favre announced his retirement: on Chris Mortensen’s voicemail.

“Mort! It’s Brett! Where the hell are ya, man??? Bubba’s here, D-Drive just showed up, and Frogger got here at, like, noon. They got dollar MGDs, and Bubba’s playin’ that video poker game where the chick gets naked. Oh, and I’m retiring. Get your ass down here, man! Peace!”

But aside from admiring Favre for his ability to sling a football with finger-breaking velocity, and aside from my aforementioned totally non-sexual, one-dude-to-another appreciation for his rugged good looks, I never really fell head-over-heels in love with the guy like so many other football fans did over the years. Maybe it’s because I made the mistake of drafting him in multiple fantasy leagues in 2005 and 2006, which seemed to coincide with Favre evidently telling himself, Fuck all this touchdown throwin’, it’s time for some interceptions!* Or maybe it’s because, through no fault of his own, Favre became the media’s darling, and I simply grew tired of hearing about how great he was during every Packer telecast, even if the team was losing and he had just thrown his fourth interception.

Still, he was pretty darn good at football. And now that he’s retired, his place among the all-time greats will be debated on bar stools and across the airwaves for, well, all time. However, there’s no debating his place in the pantheon of video game quarterbacks. Brett Favre was, without question, the greatest quarterback in Tecmo Bowl history.

And I’m talking about all Tecmo platforms here. But before you cyber-punch me in the comments section, please know that I’m aware of the fact that Favre was not in the original Tecmo Bowl. He was, however, in Tecmo Super Bowl for the Super Nintendo—my Tecmo of choice—and it was there that he achieved 32-bit immortality.

I've played countless TSB seasons with the Packers over the years, resulting in two misshapen thumbs and a trunkload of memories. Here are a few of my passing records, all courtesy of Brett Favre. (Yes, I wrote my records down. And yes, I kept them. Of course I did. If you held a gun to my head right now and asked me where my wedding photos are, I’d be a dead man. But my Tecmo records are right where I always keep them, in the drawer by my bed):

1,036 passing yards. In a game, son. (5 minute quarters)
12 passing TDs, game

10,335 passing yards, season
96 passing TDs, season

God damn, those are some beautiful stats. Really, they’re so fantastically gorgeous, so wildly impressive, so utterly radiant, that they’ve moved me to take this rant one step further. I may have to dodge a few lightning bolts as I type this, but here goes: Brett Favre was the greatest player in Tecmo history. Not just the greatest quarterback. The greatest player. Tecmo Brett Favre was better than Tecmo Bo Jackson. Yep, I said it. Go back and read it again. Hell, read it three times. Tecmo Brett Favre was better than Tecmo Bo Jackson. Did I just blow your mind? I think I did.

Look, Tecmo Bo was amazing. He could go from end zone to end zone and break every tackle and score at will and beat Contra without using the 30-man code and swim the English Channel with an anchor around his neck and play the solo to Free Bird with just his left testicle and a broken ukulele. But, at some point, Tecmo Bo the phenomenon superseded Tecmo Bo the player**. Tecmo Bo became a celebrity. He started popping up all over YouTube (most notably in this admittedly amazing clip). He even showed up in a Simmons column or two, the Us Weekly of the sports world. Suddenly, it seemed like everyone had a Tecmo Bo story—and they all sounded the same. All anyone wanted to talk about was how many tacklers Bo could avoid, instead of how many touchdowns he could score. Tecmo Bo became a caricature, known more for his antics than his production. Bo had Jumped the Shark, or Climbed Awkwardly Over the Dolphin, or Leapt Mightily Above the Outstretched Tentacles of the Colossal Squid, or whatever the kids are saying these days to describe something that’s been distorted by unattainable hype.

Tecmo Favre, meanwhile, was quietly putting up F-You stats to the tune of 600+ yards and 6 TDs per game. And isn’t that why we play video sports games? To accumulate ridiculous, otherworldly stat totals?

Now, I realize that the original Tecmo Bowl did not keep track of player stats. And I realize that, in addition to his ability to dance around tacklers, Tecmo Bo could certainly put up some illmatic numbers. And some of you may be reading this and saying, “This is ludicrous! You can’t compare a quarterback’s stats with a running back’s stats!”

Well, in Tecmo you can. The Standard Tecmo Stat Accumulation Guidelines go like this:

Pick a team. Pick a player on said team. Devote the entire season to accumulatin’ the hell out of some stats with said player on said team.

Balanced team scoring is not the goal, unless you're aiming for the Jon Thompson Trifecta: leading the league in passing yards, rushing yards, and receiving yards. But I don’t “spread the ball around” in Tecmo. I don’t “get everyone involved.” When I start a new season, I pick a player and I ride him all the way to Stats Town. And it doesn't matter if that player is a quarterback, a running back, or a wideout. A Tecmo player’s capacity for statistical output is not restricted by the real-life limitations of his position. Anyone can put up F-You stats. I’ve accumulated 800+ yards in a game with an RB (Thurman Thomas). I’ve scored double-digit touchdowns with an RB, too (yep, Bo). But there’s only one player in my long and storied Tecmo career who has ever put up 1,000+ yards and a dozen TDs in a game. And only one player who has ever amassed 10,000+ yards in a season. And only one player who, based solely on those virtuoso Tecmo performances, made me question my singular devotion to Darrell Green, my favorite real-life football player. I’m not talking about the Thurmanator. And I’m not talking about Bo. I’m not even talking about QB Chiefs .

Maybe I’m a Brett Favre fan, after all.

* To be fair, Favre is only partly to blame for my fantasy league losses. They were, after all, the Aaron Brooks Years.

** The same thing, of course, happened with the real Bo Jackson. Although the devastating hip injury certainly didn’t help things.


zadecky said...

This might be the best post on here yet. I now, somehow, have a huge man crush on, non-sexual of course.

Wilson said...

I always assumed QB Chiefs was Elvis Grbac...

Either way, you accidently linked to the inverior of two version of that clip. My preferred version is the one with the NFL Films music in the background and the truly absurd sepia filter:

Ryan Smith said...

Agreed, that's a far better clip. If only because it lets us hear the Voice of God saying, "The autumn wind is a pirate..."

Ben said...

man i haven't played madden in close to 2 years now but i might have to go buy the most recent version and rush for 3,000 yards in a season with willie parker. awesome post.

Andy Johnson said...

Better than Bo Jackson?

incorrect sir