Good Player, Bad Team – Rohn Stark

RohnStark_BraceYourselves“Rohn Stark” sounds like a character from Game of Thrones. A lesser cousin in the House of Stark, perhaps Rohn was Snowman Curator before the fall of Winterfell. He probably told cousin Ned not to worry, because HBO would be crazy to kill Sean Bean in the first season![1]

In reality, Rohn (rhymes with “Cone”) Stark hails not from Winterfell, but Minnesota (close enough, right?). His enemies aren’t Lannisters, but free-rushing defensive ends. Rohn Stark is the punter for Tecmo Super Bowl‘s Indianapolis Colts, subject of this edition of Good Player, Bad Team.

Tecmo Bowl teams don’t get much worse than lowly Indianapolis. The Tecmo era saw a Westeros-style winter freeze the team’s win column. Colts’ brass bet the farm on QB Jeff George in the 1990 draft, trading LT Chris Hinton and “Good Player, Bad Team,” Andre Rison to get George with the #1 overall selection.

Not even Victoria’s Secret has enough cuppage to hold the bust that was Jeff George. George threw more INTs than TDs in Indy. After four years, the Colts shouted their safe word and traded George back to Atlanta[2] for a song. Indy wouldn’t crawl out of their Westeros winter until 1998, when a melon-headed squire from House Manning rolled into town.

The “Too Long; Didn’t Read” version is this: Tecmo Indy is so bad, their best player is a friggin’ punter.

Sure, RB Albert Bentley isn’t bad. He’s got serviceable speed and very good hands catching passes out of the backfield. Bentley, however, only looks good on Indy. His stats compare to guys like Rams RB4 Buford McGee and SF RB3 Dexter Carter. Bentley is Herschel Walker without the hitting power. Put him on any other team and his skill set becomes much less impressive.[3]

So we’re going to talk about a punter. Indianapolis, this is what you’ve reduced me to.

Rohn Stark - Tecmo Super Bowl Stats

Every Tecmo Super Bowl punter scores 25, 56, 44, 31 in their first four categories. Only Kicking Ability and Avoid Kick Block vary. And between those two, Kicking Ability is the real difference-maker. As most punters had either 1 or 0 kicks blocked in 1990[4], AKB serves mostly as a function of how good or bad the punter’s team is. Both Rohn Stark and DEN punter Mike Horan had one kick blocked in 1990, yet Horan gets a higher AKB rating due to Denver being better than Indy.

So if we’re talking Tecmo punters, we’re talking Kicking Ability. Show me dem legs!

RohnStarkPuntAs the above .gif shows, Stark’s 75 KA gives Stark leg for days. Construction workers see those legs and whistle. The mere mention of Rohn Stark’s leg turns Milan runway models green with envy. With a fully juiced kick meter, Stark can punt the football from one 5-yard line to the other. Lucky for Stark, TSB lacks PED testing. Otherwise, with 90 yard punts, Stark would spend all his free time peeing into cups.

Rohn Stark is an example of Tecmo programmers getting the stats right. The Baltimore Colts selected Rohn Stark with the 34th overall pick in the 1982 NFL draft. Yes you read that right, 34th overall.[5] You could argue that picking punters in the second round is why Winterfell came to Baltimore/Indy[6], but Stark spent the next 13 years kicking the ever-loving crap out of footballs.

Rohn Stark made 4 Pro-Bowl teams and earned 1st Team All Pro honors in 1983. In that final year before Mayflower vans moved Baltimore to Indy, Stark led the NFL with 4,124 yards punting. He led the league in yards per punt 3 separate times. Even in the final year of his career, at 38 years old and playing for a cruddy Seattle team, Rohn Stark still managed 40+ yards a punt.

If anything, Tecmo slightly underestimates Rohn Stark’s punting. His career average 43.4 yards per punt is best among Tecmo punters, just above Reggie Roby and Sean Landetta. And the only reason Eagles punter Jeff “Ironman” Feagles and Landetta have more career punting yards is because they enjoyed freakishly long NFL careers.

Rohn Stark may be the best punter of his era, period.

Rohn also holds the unique distinction of being the last member of the Baltimore Colts to retire (1997) and the only NFL player to play for the Baltimore Colts and later against the Baltimore Ravens.

Rohn Stark’s punting is one of Tecmo Indy’s few saving graces. With Jeff George chucking dead ducks and no defense to speak of, the Colts’ only hope is to pin opposing offenses to their own goal lines. Maybe you pick the right play and get a cheap safety. Maybe Colts’ CB Eugene Daniel snags an Interception at the 20. Maybe Anna Kendrick will start returning my calls. Probably not, but maybe.

Even if you don’t manage many scores with the Tecmo Colts, at least you have Rohn Stark’s boomin’ leg (and dreamy smile) to help even the field.

[1] I realize this is a minor spoiler, but c’mon…GoT Season 1 aired four years ago. Also, Snape kills Dumbledore, Boo Radley kills Mr. Ewell and Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.
[2] Interestingly, Indy received an additional conditional draft pick from Atlanta by virtue of George starting and Atlanta winning 7 games. That pick turned out to be Marvin Harrison, so the George trade sort-of worked out in the end (sort-of).
[3] Of course, the best runner on Indy’s 1990-91 roster was Eric Dickerson, but an ongoing lawsuit against Tecmo kept him out of Tecmo Super Bowl. MUCH more on that later.
[4] Many TSB stats seem to line up with outcomes from the 1989 season, but Avoid Kick Block seems pulled from 1990. Bryan Wagner had 4 punts blocked in ‘90, and therefore gets Tecmo’s lowest AKB rating of 19.
[5] The only punter ever selected higher is Raiders Hall of Famer Ray Guy, taken 23rd overall in 1973.
[6] For all the Colts fans angry at the mention of Mayflower Moving and Indy’s decade of crapulence, just give yourself a hug and repeat after me, “Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck…”


Keith Good

Keith Good is a future Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and 8-bit game geek. A perpetual optimist, he convinces himself every September that this could finally be the Cleveland Browns' year. He was once told to eff off by one of the Tecmo Browns. You can check out his other work at www.keithisgood.com and follow him on twitter @keithisgood.

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