I am not a huge fan of either football or social video games, yet Nintendo’s 1989 NFL has a place on this list. It’s not here because it’s the best football game ever made (that comes later on the list). It’s here because of the memories I have associated with it … and it was pretty fun to play.
This was the only licensed football game for Nintendo at that time. My friend Steve had a NES and was a huge football fan, concomitantly he had this game, and one day after work he talked me into playing it. Though I knew little about football other than its clubs, I ended up really enjoying it. I enjoyed choosing a team (I started out playing my favorites: Eagles, Steelers and Rams, but later, due to a self-created system we were playing under, had to play teams like the Lions and Packers), picking a play and then controlling the players. I lost miserably to Steve, but this one session started an after- work tradition of grabbing a few drinks, going into the den, and playing a game Monday through Friday. It was a great way to unwind and to start the weekend.
I lost nearly every game we played, and when I lost, I lost badly. It was shocking, really. I admit: I sucked at it. There was one day, however, when I picked the Chiefs (I don’t remember what Steve’s team was), and trounced him solidly. My win was amazing, almost as if I used a cheat code. I destroyed Steve, and what I remember was not the elation of winning so easily, but his utter disbelief in what was happening to him on the screen. If that had been the only time we played, the game would still be on the list because of that single win. I was on fire and his only response was an open mouth and the odd sounds that emitted from it with every touchdown.
I wouldn’t buy NFL today. There would really be no reason to do so, as there are many better football games available. I will never forget it, though. It may have had a simple name, but for that period in my life it was a powerful game, and it led to my decision to start buying and playing football games many years later. Long live the Chiefs! (Though I still don’t give a crap about them in real life.)