What happens when you combine a first class card set with a replayer who leaves no stone unturned? Magic! Mark Zarb’s recreation of the 1972 campaign was the closest thing to perfection that I’ve ever seen.
To have a successful replay, one must dedicate countless hours in the preparation phase. Normally this consists of creating team workbooks to capture and compare data, develop cumulative conference and league workbooks, trade/waiver wire sheets, team sheets, innovations, etc. The coined phrase “attention to detail” is greatly overused in today’s society; however, it doesn’t come remotely close when describing Mark’s preparation. Did I mention the fact that Mark created the set? Most folks associated with APBA Football know of his tremendous card making ability but I’m not sure they understand the lengths he goes to achieve realism. For example, sacks were not an official stat until 1982 but he was determined to know each player’s sack totals. To do that, he purchased each team’s media guide and read them cover to cover. When a media guide wasn’t available, he would read archive newspaper clippings of every game to parse together sack information or watch youtube game clips. Who cares about touchback totals or who the holder was on extra point attempts? He does, he would search until these trivial details were answered. I remember a while back he had me watch the 1972 Monday Night game clip between the Jets and Raiders not to see Namath toss a TD pass but to see if I could read the number of the long snapper for the Raiders. It took him only three months to card and print this set with innovations (yards per catch, fumble frequency numbers, sack & interception ratings, penalty ratings, special team ratings, etc.) while working a full time job!
Shifting gears from card maker to replayer. In addition to the above mentioned preparation tasks, Mark created automated locator boards for all 26 teams. Once loaded, these boards allowed him to determine the following with one keyboard stroke: Lookup offensive index against Offensive Index Finder System, determine defense’s “Fletch” rating on neutral downs, defensive alignment on situational downs, keying/double coverage, blitz, designate rusher and type of running play, designate receiver/grade/YPC ratings/type of pass/index, trick plays, defender who registered the sack or interception and return specialist on kick/punt returns. Whenever I conduct a replay, I always refer to my special teams’ template when determining who was injured or recovered the fumble during a punt, punt return, kick off, kick return or field goal or extra point attempt. Evidently I’m a slacker because he makes special teams rosters for each unit for all the teams.
If you listen to any successful professional athlete, they always say playing the game is the easy part because of their preparation. It’s no different for Mark because all the heavy lifting was done in the preparation phase. Now he can enjoy the interactive journey of playing a game. His method of play is a simple five step process:
- Refresh offensive team’s locator boards to determine index, play type, runner/receiver, audible, etc.
- Refresh defensive team’s locator boards to determine defensive alignment for neutral or situational downs, keying/double coverage, blitzing, etc.
- Roll three dice (traditional dice determine play result and blue dice indicates which column to use (1-4 or 2-3).
- Look up play result on Master game boards.
- Move football, down markers and first down marker accordingly.
Mark did an excellent job in the reporting phase of a replay. Each and every game report can be read in “APBA Between the Lines” forum sponsored by Delphi forum. He researched each game on the Paper of Record or other avenues and provided a brief synopsis of the actual game. Mark than provided a detailed account with full statistics of the replayed game. His game summaries and box scores are concise with a nice clean appearance. For those familiar with the Pro-Football Reference website, it provides a detailed account of each season played. Mark’s replay is no different; he goes the extra mile and provides weekly standings, individual team schedules and results, final standings and team/individual statistics and team/conference/league workbooks.
His game summaries/box scores can be viewed at the below link. I highly recommend you peruse the bevy of statistics from his 1972 replay in the “Mark Zarb Vault” on the side bar of this site. I’m very proud of my friend for all of his hard work and his pursuit in achieving “The Perfect Replay”. Well done!