Two of the most common questions people ask me are why I chose to become a sportswriter and why I cheer for the Oakland Raiders, today's Steelers' opponent.
I've come to realize both questions have the same answer: Tecmo Super Bowl.
In 1991 the Nintendo Entertainment System released an updated version of Tecmo Bowl, which had been a huge success for the video game console.
The updated version had every NFL team at the time and kept track of the season statistics of each player on the game, something the original version had not done.
At the time, I was 8 years old and hadn't really gotten into professional football yet. My parents got me the game, and I decided to give it a shot.
My first instinct was to select the Pittsburgh Steelers, because pretty much everyone I knew was a fan of the local team.
I began to play and found out very quickly why so many Steelers fans despised Bubby Brister, the quarterback for Pittsburgh on the game. Pittsburgh also had Merril Hoge as its running back, and he definitely wasn't the fastest player on the game.
This was a time before the Madden games allowed you to do everything from creating your own players to setting the prices of hot dogs you are selling at a stadium you created.
If you didn't like Bubby Brister and Merril Hoge, it was too bad. Unless you wanted to insert backup quarterback Rick Strom, that is.
So after being completely unimpressed with the Steelers' roster, I decided to try some other teams.
That was when I found the Los Angeles Raiders.
Granted, Jay Schroeder wasn't much of an upgrade at quarterback over Brister, but wide receivers like Tim Brown and Willie Gault made up for that. The biggest difference was at running back. No more of the slow-as-molasses Hoge. As the Raiders, I now had a running back combination of Bo Jackson and Marcus Allen.
Needless to say, I had a new favorite team on the game, and it carried over into real life.
It was fun to see how many yards the combo of Jackson and Allen could rack up, and that leads me to my next obsession with the game.
I began playing through season after season to see how many yards I could amass with my offense or see if I could intercept 20 passes with Terry McDaniel, a Raider cornerback on the game.
Comparing the statistics with league leaders on the game and in real life became interesting, and I started getting into statistics in not just football but all sports. To me sports became the coolest thing around, and now I cover them for a living.
I?wonder what would have happened if my parents never bought me Tecmo Super Bowl.
Mike Boytim is a sportswriter at the Mirror and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 946-7521.