Why has it been over 17 years (Sep. 10, 1998) since the release of the original NFL Blitz on N64? You know, the one with jacked-up, seemingly HGH-infused Kordell Stewart on the cover. Most high school seniors weren’t even born when this game was released and that makes me feel extremely, extremely old. They probably don’t even have a concept of what it is. Like absolutely no clue.
They will never know that there was a time in which people didn’t give a f*** about concussion protocols or CTE and that making the most violent, unruly football game possible seemed like a brilliant idea. …and it was. Instead, they’re going to be playing like Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty in the their college dorm rooms next year while being blissfully unaware that they should have been born in an earlier generation. If you asked them next year, they’ll probably say that they love college and I’ll call them liars. There is no possible way to fully enjoy the college experience without things like thrown controllers over a NFL Blitz game, drunk driving in Mario Kart, and bloody palms from that Tug O’ War game in Mario Party (I seriously still have scars from that game).
For real, NFL Blitz is one of the all-time most frustrating games out there. You’ll be thoroughly beating down your opponent and then all of a sudden your entire team will turn into a bunch of Stevan Ridleys that just cough up the ball every possession. Passes will be dropped, onside kicks will be recovered, tipped balls will be intercepted, and somebody like Yancy Thigpen will turn into Jerry Rice. It makes betting on the spread in this game f****** impossible (trust me, I’ve done it) as the backdoor cover is almost inevitable. Maybe you get lucky and you unlock a code to prevent it when you’re pressing all those buttons at the start, but don’t fight it. Just accept it.
Despite all this frustration, the original NFL Blitz is the greatest football game of all-time and this isn’t a debate. Why? It’s the only football game that will still be played and enjoyed 20 years after it’s release. Sure, Tecmo Bowl was great and an all-time classic. There was nothing like dropping back to my own goal line with Jim Harbaugh and launching the ball 100-plus yards downfield to a wide open Tom Waddle (Was I the only one who did this?) nor was there anything like Tecmo Bo. However if you were to play it now with your friends, you would struggle to even make it through a quarter. There were also some great Madden games (Madden ’05, I’m looking at you), but they are rendered irrelevant the following year. As for NFL Blitz, I wouldn’t even glance at any of the others in the series and there were others. The original is without a doubt the best and still most enjoyable to this day.
So what does this all have to do with Peyton Manning? Well, since Charles Woodson has announced his retirement, Peyton Manning is the last man standing from the original NFL Blitz. That means Super Bowl 50 could be the last time we ever see a player from the original NFL Blitz EVER PLAY IN THE NFL!
It’s almost inconceivable to think that Peyton still remains from a game released over 17 years ago. Back then he was just a rookie that received no respect from the creators as anything but that. It’s laughable to think that the Colts had a zero bar (out of five) passing attack with Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, and Marshall Faulk (and KEN DILGER!), but they did.
Now, Peyton is busy getting ready for Super Bowl 50 in what could very well be the final game of his career and the official end of the NFL Blitz-era player in the NFL. Sure, there’s probably no player other than Jason Pierre Paul that has less feeling in his fingertips nor has any other player had four neck surgeries, but who’s counting? Peyton literally was pronounced dead earlier this season and has been resurrected like the Undertaker to lead the Broncos to the Super Bowl.
So here’s to Peyton Manning, the last remaining player from NFL Blitz. I dread the day of Peyton Manning’s retirement. I’m still holding on to what is left of my favorite football video game ever, but it may be time to let go. All I ask Peyton is that you run one last “Da Bomb” in the Super Bowl — you know — for old time’s sake.