There has never been a better sports video game than Tecmo Super Bowl. Ever. Period. In fact, I'll go this far, if you are male and between the ages of 20-30 and cannot tell me who your favorite Tecmo Super Bowl player is within five seconds of being asked, there is a 100 percent chance you have wasted your entire life.
There are very few players in my life who the mere mention of their names bring back fond memories. So what if many of these memories occurred on a computerized field inside my television screen, instead of real life? Nick Lowery, Robb Thomas, Christian Okoye, Barry Word, and Steve DeBerg -- your pixilated alter egos all made me a better man. And even though I've never been to Kansas City and don't even know a real person from Kansas City, I love the 1992 Kansas City Chiefs with a passion. To some people this might seem weird, to me it makes perfect sense.
It's en vogue to criticize kids these days because they spend all day playing video games when they should be learning life lessons by reading the Koran or baking cookies for old people. I say, this criticism is pure balderdash. If I were ever given a course to teach in college, I'm convinced every life lesson could be culled from my Tecmo Super Bowl gaming experience. I would call this class, The Tao of Tecmo Super Bowl, and my students would emerge with a more refined and nuanced view of life. Plus their thumbs would be very strong and extremely dexterous.
This is because I firmly believe the majority of my moral code was hewed on the hardscrabble and pixilated universe of my old school Nintendo's football screen. Even today when my 20-something friends and I manage to gather in the same city within a 30-mile drive of an aged Tecmo Super Bowl game and an even more aged eight-bit Nintendo, we recapture the same eternal truths and reclaim the consistent mockery and trash-talk associated with the greatest sports videogame ever made. So without further ado, here are 46 life lessons taught to me by Tecmo Super Bowl.
At some point you may notice contradictory life instructions, at this time treat these contradictory precepts exactly as you treat the parts of the Bible that conflict, i.e.: a) pretend they don't exist, b) rigorously adhere to one option and ridicule the very idea that someone could believe in the other, c) say one thing and do another ... or both.
1. Some people are just flat out better than others at things. For example Lawrence Taylor is the Christ figure of Tecmo Super Bowl. LT is omniscient, all-knowing and everywhere at once, blitzing the quarterback until the QB flees into the end zone before LT turns and races into the nowhere of the screen only to reemerge at the other end zone in time to bat the pass away from an open wide receiver. It is no coincidence that both LT and He have two letters.
2. Words can hurt ... use them liberally.
3. When wide receivers miss passes, their fingers resemble cheerleaders in the throes of the always classic spirit fingers. So the sexes, while different, are equal.
4. Fumbles make a goofy sound when they escape from your player's hands. Be alert to all goofy sounds.
5. Greed is good. Feel free to run Christian Okoye until the Nigerian government criticizes you for your wanton lack of consideration for his health.
6. Occasionally players are going to charge into the stands and create a maelstrom of turmoil. This was why when the Indiana Pacers took on the Detroit Pistons fans I was unmoved. I'd seen it all before on a Tecmo Super Bowl out-pattern that ended in the fourth row.
7. Greed can be bad. Randall Cunningham and Phil Simms are both idiots for refusing to license their likeness to Tecmo Super Bowl. Such a decision deprived these men from the eternal glory that could have been theirs for a mere pittance of a licensing sum.
8. Despite everything you've heard about life being composed of a myriad of options, there are really only eight. Four involve passing and four involve running. If one of these options is not good enough for you, then move to Russia and take up communal farming, you communist pig.
9. Taking the road less traveled really just means you like to run the flea flicker more often than you should.
10. Thou shalt not peek at another man's controller during play selection.
11. Audibling out of plays should not be allowed no matter what. We must fail in order to succeed. I think Quincy Carter learned this rule too well.
12. Most fans are indistinguishable masses of humanity who are only there to pay attention to what you are doing on the field. Also they all do the same thing at the same time, so if one person is mad at you, everyone is mad at you. Incidentally this is the only rule that Rasheed Wallace follows.
13. At times the best response to any situation is to just take your punishment. Ergo, when another player picks your play, frantically attempt to pass the ball (while risking interception) or take the safe sack. For rushing plays turn backwards at your own peril; it's better to just hit the line and take your beating.
14. In the eyes of the Tecmo Super Bowl gods there is no race, creed or ethnicity; except for Bo Jackson, who is a really fast black guy.
15. Haste makes waste. Sometimes your defensive player will get blocked so hard he will sit on the field and his head will appear to be spinning. No matter how much you might want him to, he will not be able to stand and rush again until he has fully recovered from your misuse. Incidentally, this is also a clever subtextual metaphor for alcoholism.
16. There is no try ... just pass or run.
17. Everyone is happy when they leave the hospital ... even more so when they leave wearing a football uniform replete with pads.
18. Never run a reverse.
19. Invariably when you are cursing at the football screen your mom will say, "It's just a game." Fifteen years later your wife will say the same thing. Accept that men are from Tecmo Super Bowl and women are the ones who pull the proverbial umbilical cord out of the wall that allows Tecmo Super Bowl to breathe.
20. Once you pick a team, stay with that team. I will be the Kansas City Chiefs until the day I die.
21. When something isn't working, just blow it ... wait.
22. Sometimes you throw a perfect pass and it still doinks off your receiver's hands. Ergo, your plan may be perfect but your execution might still fail.
23. It may seem paradoxical, but sometimes running backwards can make you throw the football farther forwards.
24. Never substitute. God chooses starting lineups for a reason.
25. If you throw a football high enough into the air, it becomes golden.
26. Both Tecmo Super Bowl and life breed strange bedfellows but do not shy from these connections. For instance, I would give former Kansas City Chiefs kicker Nick Lowery a kidney if he needed one.
27. Everyone has a male friend who always says something like, "I can't believe you guys are sitting around playing this old video game again." This person is not really your friend.
28. Acceptable pause in the game: You are overcome by laughter over your 58th successful juke move in row with Barry Word. Unacceptable pause in the game: Your wife is in labor.
29. Sometimes it takes more of a man to concede defeat than to continue battling. If you are down 28 or more points ... please start a new game.
30. No matter how fast you are, somebody really slow will catch you from behind if they never stop running.
31. If you struggle to break tackles, your risk of fumbling increases. If you don't struggle to break tackles, you will grow up and be the bitch on Oz.
32. Crying is unacceptable under any circumstances. Unless your eight-bit Nintendo finally dies, then you can cry for days.
33. Losing is acceptable; blaming the Tecmo Super Bowl gods for your misfortune is never acceptable.
34. Sing only if accompanied by others. Sing alone to the opening music of Tecmo Super Bowl and know that you are cruising for the beating you so richly deserve.
35. Just because you cannot understand the words that someone is saying ("Kickoff"), does not mean that those words are not important.
36. No one watches the halftime show.
37. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a game will just freeze. This is nobody's fault. Death comes for us all at inopportune moments.
38. Ultimately, you are alone in life -- with 11 poorly animated computer graphics to keep you company.
39. Accept there is no moment in your entire life that cannot be analogized to Tecmo Super Bowl. Sprinkle said analogies into your business conversations, legal memoranda, or doctor's analysis if an American man your own age is conversing with you. If said man does not get said analogy, never do business with him or ever buy him a beer. He is evil.
40. A bird in hand is worth one in the bush. But if there is neither a bush nor a bird, disregard and run Bo Jackson.
41. Never punt.
42. There is always a guy who is overly impressed with how attractive the Tecmo Super Bowl cheerleaders are ... make sure he marries your sister.
43. Dancing when unaccompanied by a buxom woman is completely unnecessary unless you have just gone up 42-7 on your friend in Tecmo Super Bowl. Then, you can dance all you want.
44. If you break something, you must pay for the breakage. Ergo, if you just fumbled and some fat guy on the other team just returned a fumble the entire length of the field and you broke the controller ... well, you have to buy a new one.
45. Pushing the reset button during a season is not cheating. Even if you're losing at the time of the reset. Indeed in today's globalized economy, shifting one's direction and starting anew is an integral and vital life skill. God bless you Tecmo Super Bowl for teaching these precepts of 21st-century economics to me when I was so young.
46. Just because girls wink at you doesn't mean they like you. In fact, it may actually be part of their job. Remembering this will literally save you 1.62 million dollars over the course of your life.
The ClayNation Tao of Tecmo Super Bowl class is currently available for the right college. Let's make it happen. Until then, just ask yourself, WWTSBD (What Would Tecmo Super Bowl Do) and you'll always walk in sunlight.