There are few developments in modern day culture, much less athletics, that are as unfathomable to me as the evolution of Colts/Patriots into the NFL's greatest rivalry. Despite the fact that they no longer reside in the same division, the two are always scheduled to square off in the regular season to guaranteed huge ratings. When the playoffs come around each year, CBS orchestrates a brand of game-fixing that made David Stern the brutal despot he is today.
I should rephrase my earlier statement. I'm not shocked that this became the NFL's greatest rivalry. I'm shocked that this became the NFL's greatest rivalry because these somehow became the best two teams in the National Football League. This pairing of teams has been the league's most awesome since 1991, but that was simply because their video game counterparts made up two-thirds of the shitty NES sports triumvirate (with the SNK Crushers* from Baseball Stars) And while empirical evidence seems to suggest that Indianapolis is every bit as bad as New England, the Tecmo Patriots have attained an almost mythical level of ineptitude. So well-known are the Tecmo Pats that their awesome old logo, "Pat the Hiker" is remembered much more for an awful video game football squad instead of more positive team moments from the era like when Irving Fryar got stabbed by his wife before the AFC Championship Game.
But lots of people and lots of groups are bad at stuff. There's a reason why I'm writing about the Patriots failure to play Tecmo football and not foreigners' inability to read or make sense at Disney World. And that reason is the cast of characters that have burrowed a hole in every Tecmo fan's heart and every 2-14 AFC East finish.
Every conversation about the Patriots begins and ends with Steve Grogan. And I mean every conversation. You probably haven't noticed it, but one bottle in every twelve pack of Samuel Adams changes the familiar "Brewer, Patriot" logo to "Brewer, Grogan." (And the greatest collectibles are the rare bottles changed to "Clutterbuck, Grogan.") I have to give credit to Baseman's guest profile of the Patriots for his coining of the phrase "mortar shot" to describe Grogan's passing skills. Nothing stands out more about Grogan's inexcusable attempt at leading a football team than his thirty-yard overthrows and slow lobs into coverage.
Grogan's not just a one-trick pony, though. He's adroitly skilled in other high-demand areas such as fumbling, throwing to receivers that don't have the arrow on their heads, and finding ways to throw interceptions to completely uncovered receivers.
This leads us directly into the backup, Marc Wilson. Wilson is like the decent-looking girl that hangs out with Rosie O'Donnell. While said girl may not be anything special, her appearance and non-homosexuality in comparison to the afforementioned bovine makes her seem like a much greater paragon of female beauty. The same thing happens with Marc Wilson. He's nothing to write home about as a quarterback, but unlike Grogan, his ability to complete passes and staunch record of heterosexuality** make him the much more popular choice.
Don't expect Wilson to become another Marino or Montana when you put him in the game, but if you want to have a shot at the Super Bowl and keeping your mental placidness, then it is imperative that Mr. Wilson becomes your field general.
* Shout-out to the guestbook
** Public records of Steve Grogan's sexuality were unavailable when this edition went to press
John Stephens is certainly a beneficiary of the Steve Grogan Effect, the same phenomenon that put Marc Wilson's kids through college. But unlike most of the other players on the Patriots offense, Stephens has some stand-alone talent. If you stack Stephens up against the rest of the backs in his division, only Thurman Thomas and Rick Tuten when he picks up a muffed punt are better ballcarriers. Where you start to run into problems is that you can only take so many Grogan balls into the press box and/or disappointing Wilson games before you begin running Stephens into the ground. This is quite similar to what occurs with Albert Bentley in Indianapolis. And while Stephens is more durable than his brittle counterpart with a horseshoe on his helmet, you're still going to lose him a couple of times a season.
The other two backs are George Adams and Marvin Allen. Allen gets to run that weird off-tackle play that the Seahawks have, but other than that is buried behind Stephens and Mosi when it comes to potential carries. George Adams is the last guy on the bench for the worst team on the game. I think he's been ridiculed enough.
Irving Fryar is certainly the name that will jump out at you and unfortunately, you're going to get very familiar with him. I say "unfortunately" because like his real-life career, his Tecmo campaign has been a pretty big disappointment. It may have something to do with the dearth of talent in his team's passers, but Fryar has always been that guy that you go, "Well, at least I have him" when getting stuck with the Pats. But nobody has ever put together a season with Fryar successful enough to vault him into the upper echelon of Tecmo receivers, although dozens of people since 1991 have tried. But again, get used to him because he's all you've got.
As far as the rest go, it's even worse sledding. It's still unclear whether or not Sammy Martin was a real football player, Greg McMurtry didn't even get his name spelled correctly, and Hart Lee Dykes sounds more like a buddy of Daniel Boone's than Jerry Rice's.
One of you might have objected, "Wait a minute, what about Marv Cook?" while I was disaparaging the Patriots' receiving corps. And after your thirty seconds of intense shame had passed, you probably still felt like your statement was correct despite the nerdy protest.
Pretty simply, you're right. Cook is not blazing fast and he can't block, but he can catch the ball when thrown to him. With all of the other disciples of Pat Beach populating your eligible receivers list, he becomes an attractive option after awhile. Once you tire of Fryar's disappointments and Stephens' trips to Waving Nurse Hospital, you will have to find another option. Cook probably will be it.
Another positive about Marv Cook is that he's a fucking brick, so he never gets hurt. "Eric Sievers" is just a placeholder entered into the backup tight end spot and no player was ever coded for this position.
Patriots roll call:
Left Tackle: Paul Fairchild
Left Guard: Chris Gambol
Center: Damian Johnson
Right Guard: Bruce Armstrong
Right Tackle: Danny Villa
I truly have no idea whether or not the attributes of Tecmo linemen actually translate into in-game performance. But if the reality of John Stephens not being able to find an inch of running room after Week 7 is any indication, then there's probably a good reason that these five "athletes" were never heard from again.
There are few Tecmo realities more frustrating than being saddled with a team that has no discernible man-controlled option on defense. It's a nuisance for the Saints, a problem for the Browns, and a 300 pound rock on your back with the Patriots.
Starting on the defensive line, Tim Goad is the nose guard and is just plain bad. For those that allow lurching - < soapbox > which should be all, it was coded into the game after all < / soapbox > - Goad's inability to do so is a nightmare. Garin Veris has a somewhat cool name and the ability to somewhat not tackle on every play.
Your best option in this unit is Ray Agnew. Not only that, he might be the best option on the whole defense. But when you're throwing out statements like, "How about Ray Agnew? He probably won't ruin the season" you realize how dire the Patriots' situation is.
Not since Vatican City regrettably fielded that national football team in 1983 has the world seen a worse collection of linebackers than the Patriots have.
The inside linebackers are Richard Harvey and Ed Reynolds, two players so historically unproductive that the mere sight of their names made my gag reflex react in a rhythm that felt strangely like "HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT HUT."
The outside linebackers are a nobody named Chris Singleton and one-half of the feared Ippett Tag Team, Andre Tippett. Feared by the human controller, not the opposition, but anyone who has read more than five minutes worth of nonsense on this site probably had that figured out already.
I trick myself into thinking that Maurice Hurst is a good cornerback each time I get stuck with New England, much like hypothermia victims trick themselves into thinking they're getting warm. The game still ends with similar tragic results, but at least I have delusions of Hurst getting interceptions instead of having to process the realities of him not intercepting, tackling, or sprinting.
Tippett's partner Lippett plays on the other side and most people seem to have the same sort of hypothermic reaction with him that I have with Hurst. These are less satisfying because the space cadet controlling Lippett often gets confused with the similarily named linebacker and is in constant danger of unsafe Ippett exposure.
Jason Staurovsky is a pretty proficient kicker, which is a lifesaver in the Patriots' seasons. Since you only need to get to the fifty to attempt a makeable field goal in Tecmo, this means that the Patriots have two chances to score per game: When Stephens is finally able break free once and when the competitor accidentally onside kicks after one of his ten touchdowns.
Tecmo punters are always the subject of intense debate, so I'm going to refrain from inflaming either passionate side. A fun side note about Brian Hansen is that he's a motivational speaker here in the upper midwest and my friend Barry, who has contributed to a couple of these profiles, saw him on a golf course in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Okay, so that's a terrible side note, but what else am I honestly going to have to add about Brian Hansen - New England Patriots - PUNTER?
Pretty good playbook, actually. Stephens is able to chew up yards with Toss Sweep R (Top Left) and Pitch L Open (Top, 2nd from Right.) Also note the previously mentioned "weird Allen play."
The passing plays are okay, although they could use a shotgun formation. And a quarterback to run them.
Only through sixteen years of Tecmo experience can you adequately appreciate the train wreck that is the New England Patriots. The fact that in the most infamous Tecmo season I've ever been a part of Chase, another Tecmo contributer, drew them is something that makes me smile to this day. Of all the Tecmo teams to be forever linked to, that's the one you'd want to avoid. We all have our crosses to bear, but that's a hole that may take years to dig out of.