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Computer games are a fan's dream

By Anthony Rhoads

In the past I have guided the Atlanta Falcons to a couple of Super Bowl championships.

No, I have never been a coach and never will be a coach but on my Madden ?99 computer game, I was able to take the Falcons to the pinnacle of success in the NFL.

In addition to winning in football, I've also beaten Tiger Woods, won an NBA championship and a Winston Cup points championship – all on my computer.

With realistic graphics and statistics, it's amazing how advanced these games are now.

It's so realistic that if you choose to play the Falcons, Chris Chandler will surely get hurt, back-up quarterback Tony Graziani will play incredibly bad and the Falcons' defense won't be able to stop anybody.

The computer games now are a sports fan's dream and they're a far cry from the games in the late 1970s and early ?80s.

Back when I was in third grade, one of my friends had a Mattell electronic hand-held football game.

Even though it's archaic and quaint by today's standards, we were completely enthralled with it and played it for hours.

It didn't have realistic graphics and the players were just little red dots on a two-inch or so screen but it was fun. The sound effects were also great with blips, bleeps and special tones when a touchdown was scored. Around that same time period, my cousin had a Pittsburgh Steelers-Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl electric football game.

The playing surface was a metal football field and the players were little ceramic figures on a green plastic base. When you turned on the field with an electric switch, the field would buzz and that would cause the players to move. And that wasn't all. The game also came with a cardboard scoreboard, a yellow plastic kicker/quarterback, a set of plastic goal posts and a set of tiny, foam rubber footballs.

The instruction booklet explained that the toy was not only a source of fun for kids but real-life coaches also used it to diagram plays and game situations. Wow!

When I was in fifth grade, I finally got an electric football game for Christmas. It was the Oakland Raiders-Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl version. I was in heaven during that holiday season.

I also had a late 1960s-early 70s baseball board game that my mom bought for me second hand. That was another game that I loved.

It also had a cardboard scoreboard and the game came with a set of circular cards that you inserted onto the field. When it was a players' turn at bat, you put the card into the plastic slot and spun the arrow to see if the player would get a hit, a strikeout, a ground out or a fly out.

The front of the instruction booklet proudly proclaimed that it was the most realistic baseball game today and it even had quotes from Major Leaguers saying how realistic the game was. Whooo!

By the time I was in junior high school, things had really progressed with the Atari systems. The version of the football game I had wasn't bad for its day but the players were little stick figures and you couldn't kick or punt.

Those were the days.

Anthony Rhoads is a sports writer for The Daily. He can be reached at arhoads@news-daily.com.