The Electric Company

(By Chris, Editor in Chief of and the adult writer of the Gab Four. Originally published Jan. 9, 2008, sponsored by 3 Spoons Yogurt)

Only a jelly donut with a hollow center could have been more of a disappointment to me than what I received for Christmas in 1986.

The Sears catalog had me bamboozled, looking at miniature figures of 22 football players (11 per team), spread in formation over an NFL playing field. But, as it turned out, an electronic football game is much more fun to imagine than it is to play.

I tore open a box that was as tall as I was to find the 1985 Super Bowl teams (Chicago and New England) and a sheet of uniform number decals.

As I decorated each player with his respective numeral, I realized that for me to utilize the passing game, running game and even the snap from center, the ball would probably have to be magnetically attracted to the players. Upon finding that the balls were made of rubber and no larger than a gas bubble, I sought the help of an adult who could explain how the passing game was supposed to work (by "passing game" I mean aerial, as opposed to gastral).

And I am still looking for that adult to this day.

I envisioned a live-action video game, in which all 11 offensive players ran toward the defense and all 11 defensive players ran toward the offense. This is not what transpired.

Upon turning on the electronic field, which can henceforth be referred to as a vibrating bed with no mattress, all 22 players began to participate in a miniature version of "Dance Fever." Each figure went to painstaking lengths to make sure he did not copy the exploits of any other figure on the field.

One of the offensive players did manage to go toward his goal in a straight line. This was somewhat tarnished by the fact that his 10 other teammates varied between running backwards, running in clockwise circles, running in counterclockwise circles, running in a manner that indicated said player had rabies or simply falling on their sides and doing the Curly Shuffle.

And, unfortunately, the player who ran toward his goal was never the one that had the ball, though the player who did have the ball was able to use it to help cushion his blow when he fell face-first onto the field.

However, if the offense's strategy was to confuse the defense, then I would label their execution mesmerizing.

Defensive players mimicked offensive players by succumbing to movements that indicated a blood relation to the Tasmanian Devil.

After unsuccessfully trying to reenact the Super Bowl's 46-10 score, I sent the electronic football game on a one-year vacation underneath my bed. When its vacation ended, it was put back to work as a marquee item in a garage sale.

To demonstrate just how effectively Sears marketed the game through an appealing use of photography, I contemplated asking for another game years later, rationalizing that since I was older, I could figure out how to make it work.

Although, if my strategy had been making the '85 Patriots look inept on offense and giving the '85 Bears a dominant defense, then the game was fairly accurate.

One thing's for certain: not only did the players fit Bears linebacker Mike Singletary's description as "a group destined to apply the kind of pressure that had not been seen before," but the group also applied the kind of gyrations that had not been seen before.

Chris is a Waco, Texas, resident, Editor in Chief of, author of the book "Sports Briefs" and the adult writer for the Gab Four. Read more of Chris' solo columns here.

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