Monday, July 9, 2012

R.I.P. Norman Sas

Who is Norman Sas? 

Anyone who grew up in the '70s probably doesn't know his name but most likely knows his creation.

Maybe it was under your Christmas tree. Surely you remember it: Metal playing field. Two teams of 11 plastic football players, each standing on a rectangular base with prongs on the bottom and a knob on the side. At the beginning of each play, the human "coach" sets the players in the desired position and puts the football in the hands of one. A switch is flicked, the gridiron vibrates and the players move — often hilariously in every which direction. Occasionally the player with the ball "runs" to daylight. 
Norman Sas invented Electric Football in 1948 and introduced it a year later. But it wasn’t until 1967, when he signed a deal with NFL Properties, the National Football League’s product licensing division, that the plastic players represented actual NFL teams and Electric Football really took off. 
"Who would’ve thought that a vibrating metal plate could capture the imagination of so many boys?" Byrne said, adding that the "chaos and unpredictability" of the players’ movements gave Electric Football its magic. "For the first 10 years, we generated more money for NFL Properties than anyone else," Mr. Sas said in a 1998 Washington Post story. "Then the [video] games came out, and that was the beginning of the end."
I had one as did almost every boy in the neighborhood. We'd play each other's favorite teams (invariably the Redskins, Cowboys, or Steelers) and ultimately the two best would battle it out in the Super Bowl.

Thanks for the fun Mr. Sas.

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