Enjoying football, electric and fantasy

sports@macon.comDecember 24, 2012 

Do you remember that Christmas when Santa Claus brought you exactly what you wanted? Well for me it was when I got my electric football game. You may remember the game manufactured by Tudor that featured 11 plastic football positioned figures in yellow and 11 more in red, a triple-threat quarterback who could pass, punt and kick, along with a replica vibrating football field and footballs made from felt.

What started out as scrimmages between the red and yellow teams soon turned into a single unit thanks to some paint, which made them all Crimson in color and the beginning of the Thomaston Electric Football League. In actuality, the league could have been called the Brookwood Electric Football League because all the teams involved lived in or were adjacent to that subdivision. Bobby Alexander and Edwin McMichael lived in Brookwood, Fred Murphy and Don Sanders on Allen Street, I lived on Herbert Street, and I believe Steve Sheriff lived on Mallory.

My team actually had more than 22 players because I had bought some metal players from my friend Johnny Perdue. Metal was used in the production of the players when the game first came out in the late 1940s, and Johnny had one of the first models that he no longer played with. The metal players were bigger, and I used them as lineman, which I thought gave me an advantage. I believe we played a round-robin schedule with the champion receiving a Gold Trophy Cup. You have to remember that this all took place more than 50 years ago, and some of my facts may be a little fuzzy, but as I recall, I won the first championship before Edwin, we called him “Smedwin,” took over as having the best team.

More than 40 million electric football games have been sold since the game made its debut in 1947, but with the advent of video games such as “Madden NFL 2013” and fantasy football, they are not as popular as they once were.

I don’t know the number for the video games in use today, but published reports indicate more than 19 million people are involved in fantasy football in private or public leagues online nationally on an annual basis. Fantasy football was developed back in 1962 by three individuals who worked in the Oakland Raiders organization, but it didn’t really catch fire nationally until the late 1990s when CBS launched its first publicly available free fantasy football website.

Fantasy football is the NFL’s single most important marketing tool. You know it’s big when every NFL game broadcast gives you up to date fantasy statistics throughout the games. I have been involved in a fantasy league for the past three seasons, and it sure makes you pay attention to what is going on.

My friend Jeff Stewart and I have an entry in the Macon Fantasy League, along with 11 other teams.

If you don’t know how fantasy works, our league conducts a draft each season, and you pick players who you think will score points. All of the 12 teams have two quarterbacks, four halfbacks, four wide receivers, two tight ends, two kickers and two defensive teams, and each week you have to set your lineup using one quarterback, two halfbacks, two wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defensive team.

You then compete against one other team each week in your league with all stats kept online so you know where you stand. In our league, we are divided into three divisions. We play 14 regular-season games hoping to qualify for the playoffs. Six of those games are against division opponents with the other eight coming from the teams in the two other divisions. The top eight make the playoffs, and we snuck in with the eighth spot this year and knocked off the top seed in the first round and won again this past weekend, which puts us in the finals coming up Sunday.

As entertaining as fantasy football is, it can never replace the memories of my electric football team.

Contact Bobby Pope at bobbypope428@gmail.com

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