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Terry Bradshaw Fantasy Football from Fantasy Sports Properties, Inc.

Rating: graphics Uhhh...no, sound Uhhh...no, interface 70, fun factor 49, overall 60
Ah, football season is upon us once again. Another 16 weeks of hard-hitting, bone-crunching, injury-inducing, salary-inflating gridiron action. On the field, there's dozens of overpaid, disgruntled grown men (many awaiting court dates) fighting over a little piece of leather affectionately known as a "pigskin." Off the field, there's shady deals (Baltimore RAVENS? RIP Cleveland Browns.), personality conflicts, and endorsements that allow Deion Sanders to make more money in 30 seconds than you or I will in our entire lifetimes (never mind the fact he can't catch a pigskin). :)

Terry Bradshaw Fantasy Football Also off the field, there's FANTASY FOOTBALL. Yes, the great office pastime returns once again. This time, however, Fantasy Sports Properties, Inc. has teamed up with Terry Bradshaw to produce a little program that will allow you to manage literally dozens of Fantasy Football teams, divisions, and leagues. Please note that this program is not a game. No action involved here, just creation of teams, choosing of players, and updating of statistics.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Fantasy Football, here's a real quick overview. Before the season starts, you choose a number of offensive players (from different teams) and a defensive "team." Each week, you choose a few of those players (one quarterback, three receivers, two running backs, etc.) to "play." After Monday night, you tally up points scored by those players, based on how they scored in their actual NFL games. For example, if you would have chosen Deion Sanders and Emmitt Smith during the first week of the NFL season (as I did), you would have scored NOTHING from those two, because neither of those players scored a touchdown. However, I also had Steve Young on my team, and he did manage to score a couple of touchdowns. I still lost that week, though. :( "Gode's Runabouts" lost out to "Farling's Felines," thanks to some great work by Steve Christie and Anthony Miller, but "Kira's Killers" did manage to beat "Prez's Predicament" despite a strong showing by the Chicagodefense.

The overall layout of Fantasy Football is pretty decent. The program allows you to create different leagues, divisions, and teams with minimal effort. It even allows you to assign "dollar values" to certain transactions (fees, trades, etc.), and keep track of who's paid and who hasn't. The "draft day" process is pretty simple. Just highlight the player you want, and hit the "draft" button. To help with your player selection, the program comes with the "Terry Bradshaw Fantasy Football Journal," which lists all the teams, players, and their relative worth. Bradshaw even gives his input on everything and everybody. During the actual season, choosing players to "play" is just as simple. Trades, drops, and putting players on Injured Reserve is also easy. The program is pretty dang slow when switching between a couple of the four main areas of the program, which is a somewhat moderate annoyance. Well, no. Actually, it was a great annoyance. I could go get something to eat, wash my car, and get my doctorate while the "Update Manager" was loading.

Getting the weekly statistics update, however, is another matter. FSPI does offer a service where you can download a statistics file each week from their web site, BBS, or have a diskette mailed to you. Of course, to subscribe to this service, it costs you another $79.95 for the whole season. Yes, that's $5 a week. When I downloaded the first week's stats file (which was free), I also encountered another problem : the program took approximately forever to process the stats file and update the players and their scores. No kidding, it took several minutes for all the whirring and chunking on my hard drive to finish, and on a Pentium 60 with 24 megs of RAM, that shouldn't happen.

First of all, I don't like waiting an inordinately long amount of time for statistics files to be updated. Admittedly, we're talking about hundreds of players each week, but please. Second, I really dislike the idea of having to pay for a game twice. Paying another eighty bucks just to download a file each week is a bit ridiculous. My advice : buy a newspaper (you know what those are; it's kinda like CNN Interactive, except it's printed on actual paper) and input the statistics yourself. It's time-consuming, but you can focus on only the players you drafted and it's only 50 cents a week.

As far as finding out how your teams did, it's a challenge. If you don't have a printer, forget it. The reports that the program draws up are all fine and dandy, but the "print preview" makes the reports nearly impossible to read, even on maximum zoom. The print is somewhat readable, but I had to put my face up against the screen in order to read it.

Overall, the only people I can recommend this program for are those who run HUGE Fantasy Football Leagues, and I mean you should be keeping track of dozens of teams. In those cases, the money from fees could be used to pay for the statistics service, amounting to a few dollars per person for the whole season. If it's just you and a couple other guys from work playing, keep track manually.

-- Jeff Godemann
-- cirrocu@ns.net

System Requirements : 486, VGA, 35 MB HD space, 4 MB RAM
Recommend : Pentium 200, 128 MB RAM, lots and lots of Fantasy Football League players (or a winning lottery ticket)

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