Long before Nintendo, Sony and the Xbox brought ultra-realistic three-dimensional renderings of contemporary football players onto television screens across America, the must-have football-related game of its time featured generic faces and precious little control over bodily movement. Although demand for this toy resulted in nothing even remotely approaching the fistfights and thievery and mad scrambles of hundreds through doors constructed to allow the comfortable passage of two at most that mark the consumer lust for today’s hottest Christmas toy, the desire for an electric football game was no less intense among males of a certain age in the early 70’s.
As penetratingly focused as Ralphie Parker’s single-minded devotion for a Red Ryder BB-gun is, it cannot compare to my own drooling desire for an electric football game. Compounding my obsession was the fact that at the time it could be purchased with one of the two teams being my own favorite NFL team, the undefeated soon-to-be Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins! Oh, how I lay awake in bed at night dreaming of that electric hum driving my little plastic Larry Csonka on a quivering drive toward the goal line, or the graceful Paul Warfield stretching his long, slender arms outward to pull in a perfect Bob Griese pass.
For a non-Jewish American kid, the longest time of year has to be those painful weeks between the moment you push your full stomach away from the Thanksgiving dinner table and that moment when you rush to the front room to check on whether any of the presents resemble in any fashion that one item you are most hoping to find. Upon stumbling from slumber on Christmas Day, I jumped out of bed and sped full speed down the hallway, stunned to realize that my parents had actually gotten up before me. I think that was the first and only Christmas that ever happened. A quick survey of the multi-colored wrapping paper informed me that several were large enough to merit my hope that they contained my precious electric football game. Before I had even ripped open the first package, I could already hear that definitive electric hum in the air and I pictured my tiny little Miami Dolphin players running roughshod over the opposing Dallas Cowboys who had devastated me a year earlier when they pounded my beloved Dolphins in the Super Bowl. One of the reasons I so hoped to get my electric football game, you see, was to deliver some revenge. Electrical revenge!
The last package lay open, and our shag carpeting lay buried beneath a mountain of discarded wrapping paper. I sat there somewhat shell-shocked, despite a wealth of alternative toys that would have kept the child population an entire African village busy for a year. At that point, my mother and father, sitting next to each other in two recliners they had for some reason pushed together, rose in concert and pushed apart their seats to reveal what had been behind them, unwrapped, the entire time. My electric football game, with 11 Miami Dolphin players and 11 Dallas Cowboys players already neatly lined up for me to extract some low-voltage vengeance.
Opening day final score: Miami 33, Dallas 12.