“Trial Balloon”

I’m contemplating replaying the 1993 season after my next project (1968 AFL/NFL) is completed. I’ve had this set for several years now and wanted to break it out for a test run. So I created locators for each team, determined “Yards per Catch” and “Fumble Frequency Number ratings” for each team. The cards played as well as I remember them but there are a few factors that cause me hesitation. I miss having access to all the players’ cards who “touched the ball”, the kicker’s cards don’t have the additional dice rolls (37 thru 42) and the “P” column for kickoffs wasn’t invented yet, and players weren’t coded for fumble recoveries yet. Of course, I could use Howard’s Ahlskog chart for on-side kicks to mitigate that deficiency and implement other workarounds. The preparation phase of a replay is so tedious and time-consuming that I must be 100 percent certain prior to embarking on this project. So I will be welcoming feedback on this matter.

With that said, let me take you back to East Rutherford, New Jersey for opening day of the 1993 campaign. The Denver Broncos came to town to take on the retooled New York Jets. This was the first season of free agency, although the Jets struck out on Reggie White, they did land Boomer Esiason, Ronnie Lott and Leonard Marshall. I remember wiping a tear from my eye watching Dennis Byrd walk out on the field during the pre-game ceremony.

Broncos at Jets (1993)Broncos at Jets (Trial)

November Football

November Football is when the season really starts to take shape. As a fan, I’ve always used the old golf adage, “You can’t win the tournament on Thursday but you sure can lose it” to sum up September and October professional football games. I compare the games played in the month of November to the front nine holes of a major golf tournament on Sunday and December’s games are the back nine. As a replayer, reaching November is always a major milestone for me. You are either at the mid-season point or quickly approaching it and can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel. Also by this time in a replay, the overall statistics have usually normalized and you get a good sense of the quality of the set you are using. I always do a thorough review of team and individuals statistics once I hit November to identify any anomalies and implement corrective actions if required.

Thank you to those of you who have followed along with my 2002 NFL replay and I hope you remain on-board for the second half of the season.

So you want to conduct an APBA Football replay?

A few years back I wrote an article on the “5 Keys to Starting and Finishing a Replay.” In this article, I discussed having the experience to conduct a full season replay, tips for selecting the right season to replay, task breakdown hints, discussed variety options, and the importance of backing up your project. These are all important points, however, having completed several full-season projects since this article, I realized I missed the two most important keys which are “passion for the game” and “frequency of play.”

The real secret to starting and finishing a replay is quite simple, you have to “love playing the game”. Your passion for the hobby is what allows you to conduct a replay and deal with life’s responsibilities. Is it difficult juggling a 40 to 60-hour work week, family responsibilities, etc? You bet it is but not impossible if you “love playing the game”. I’m living proof, I worked those 60-hour workweeks and dealt with life-threatening health issues but still banged out games at a blistering pace. I lived on 4 to 5 hours sleep, was up at 5 a.m. each morning during the work week to roll a half, never watched TV unless it was a football game, and finished rolling/reporting the game later that evening. Why did I repeat this “24-hour cycle” for well over the last decade? It’s quite simple, I not only love the mechanics of playing the game, but thoroughly enjoy all aspects of preparing for and conducting a replay.

So many times, I see were a well-intentioned replay was started only to peter out after a few months or slow down to only a game or two per week. The fact of the matter is, the longer a project takes the odds of reaching completion diminish tremendously. Conducting a modern-day replay consists of 256 regular season games and eleven post-season games. Trust me, this is a grind but doable if you play a minimum of five games per week. If the replayer averages 5-games per week the regular season will be completed in 51.2 weeks or 12.8 or 13 months. Not to sound like “Debbie-downer” but don’t forget to factor in the “prep” work, which generally takes me anywhere between three to five months.

So if you are thinking about undertaking a replay, please, honestly answer the following question: “Do I love playing APBA Football enough to dedicate the time required?” If the answer is “I don’t know or not really”, don’t waste your time even considering a replay. There are so many other ways to enjoy this game while playing solitaire. Play a replay of your favorite team or player, conduct a mini-tournament, or just grab two teams and hit the gridiron tabletop. The beauty is you can make it as simple or complicated as you want to. You don’t even have to record player statistics just play to see who wins the game. For the “Mark Zarbs” of the world, who answered “YES”, your focus needs to be on frequency of play. A dollar to a donut, if someone asked my APBA Football brother and best friend, Mark Zarb, what impact have I had on his game? I bet his answer would be he plays games at a more accelerated pace compared to his earlier full-season replays.

APBA Football & the Next Chapter of My Life – Retirement

APBA Football has played a significant role in my life. During the good times, it has allowed me to meet so many worthwhile people either virtually or in-person who I consider to be friends. If it wasn’t for this hobby, I would have never had the opportunity to meet Mark Zarb who has become “family”. During the bad times, it has helped me cope with the death of loved ones, provided the mental escape from working 60-hour work weeks due to man-power cuts, and comfort my wife during the dark days shortly after being diagnosed with stage four cancer because she always found solace in the sound of the dice.

For the last four months, I’ve been living in an empty home. My wife, my dog and the rest of the critters moved into our new home that we had built in Sequim, Washington. No furniture, no television, no radio, no problem. I had a bed, card table and a chair. It’s all I needed to roll a few APBA Football games. At least now, I’m residing in a hotel since the sale of my home last week.

After thirty-five years in the defense industry, I’m thrilled to announce my last duty-day is this Friday, April 27th. I will board a flight Saturday morning with a “one-way” ticket and join my family and retire.

None of us has a crystal ball to tell the future, so I rely on “trend analysis” to make educated guesses in my life. When I review my family history, the facts tell me that my father died at 59 from heart disease and my mother at 73 from a rare cancer. I turned 55 in December and already have had multiple cardiac catheterizations and open heart surgery. The one certainty we have in this life is you “can’t beat your genes.” This played a major factor into my decision to end my professional career.

While sitting at the bar of my favorite steakhouse last Friday evening, I struck up a conversation with a fellow patron and the discussion turned to retirement. He looked at me and said “Young fellow, the most important part about being retired, is that you need to find a hobby to occupy some of your time”. I looked him square in the eye and said “Sir, I got that one covered”.



Tweaks to Existing Innovations & Introducing a New One

For several years now, Mark Zarb and I have corroborated numerous innovations and ideas with regard to APBA Football. Mark is the “brains”, he comes up with the conceptual ideas and transforms them into procedures or innovations. I apply those ideas/innovations to my replays to determine the effectiveness. Now, that Mark is playing full-time, we have double the data points to determine if it “works or not”.

The primary reason I replayed the 1969 AFL season was to be able to compare the statistics of the two replays. The following is the four objectives that I evaluated:

Objective 1. Assess adjustment to Fletch67 defensive ratings and Key against the Run.

Objective 2. Assess change to Double Coverage (Keying) formula for both Neutral and Situational downs.

Objective 3. Assess if change to “Situational Down and Distance” chart affected opponent’s ability to convert third down.

Objective 4. Assess frequency and playability of new “Pass Rush Impact” innovation.

Test Report 



Managing the Kicking Game during a Season Replay

For someone who prides himself in doing first-class replays, I’ve been extremely laissez-faire in how I manage the kicking game. That stops immediately, I will incorporate the following actions into the final preparation phase for my upcoming 2002 NFL replay:

  • All teams will attempt a field goal once they reach their opponent’s 32-yard line (49-yard field goal attempt or less) unless the game situation dictates going for it on fourth down.
  • Each team’s kicker, attempts past 50-yards and actual long will be listed and tracked in team locators.
  • Kicker‘s will BE allowed to attempt a kick past their actual long but not exceed their actual attempts past 50-yards.