Obit of the Day: Good Vibrations
When compared to Madden 12, Norman Sas’ electric football game is a disappointment. But for thousands of boys (and surely some girls) plugging in the 37-inch by 20-inch metal gridiron, setting up your 11 men, and then turning on the switch was nearly as exciting as the actual Super Bowl. The metal game board would vibrate sending players every which way along the field. The “play” continued until the player holding the ball was touched by an opposing player,. or the ball handler “broke away” scurrying the length of the “field.”
Norman Sas, whose father founded Tudor Metal Products (later Tudor Games), joined the company after serving in World War II and introduced electric football in 1948. But it took nearly twenty years for Sas’ product to gain widespread popularity. That year Sas signed an agreement with NFL Properties allowing the game company to use the uniforms and logos of NFL teams, as well as the trademark “Super Bowl.” With the NFL’s cache attached, the vibrating football game became a hit. By 1971 it was identified by Sports Illustrated as the NFL’s best-selling product.
Tudor Games would expand to include electric baseball, basketball, hockey, track and field, and horse racing. (Ironically, it was an electric horse racing game that gave Sas his idea for the football game.) But the introduction of video games signaled the decline of electric board games.
Norman Sas passed away at the age of 88.
Note: In the Madden 12 iPad app, you can choose to play a digital version of Sas’ electric football.
(Image of Tudor Games electric football collection from 1971, when the Cowboys defeated the Colts in Super Bowl V, is courtesy of www.sportsgrindent.com)