Tecmo Bowl League | Articles Players | Tecmo Bowl League Tecmo Bowl League | Articles Tecmo Bowl League | Records Tecmo Bowl League Tecmo Bowl League | Seasons



written by Drewmanster


Kevin Mack is a player that lives in infamy. His high hit power - a notch higher than any offensive skill player on the original ROM - brings forth thoughts of a heroic fullback from the days of yore, mud-covered, dragging half of the defense along to the goalline; a man who will not be denied victory. Or it may remind one of the many heavy hitters from Tecmo Super Bowl popcorning helpless defenders for yet another long distance touchdown on the day.

However, experienced Tecmo Bowl aficionados know that the hit power stat, when applied to a running back, is of little consequence. It is totally irrelevant below a certain threshold, and above it all it will result in is the occasional extra few yards blowing up some base-statline stiff before the human defender comes to clean up the mess. Speed is what really matters, and if you don’t have it, you’re no not fit to be in this league as a running back.

Or… is that really the case?

Kevin Mack’s Stats and the Role of Hitpower in Tecmo Bowl

Hit power is not the most useful stat in Tecmo Bowl simply because it does not have many opportunities to rear its head. It is considered most important in offensive line play - the more holes blown up by your offensive line, the less defenders will immediately be in the area getting off their block to grab the ball carrier, and the same is true on kick returns with arguably even greater impact in springing a big play. Conversely, having high HP defenders along the front seven will increase the amount of “help” the human defender will get on a play after they potentially win a grapple contest with a lineman. It is unknown if having higher HP makes the chance of winning a grapple higher or not.

There are many offensive lineman that have an extremely high HP and make an impact in the blocking game. However, there are only 4 offensive skill players that have an abnormal amount of HP:


- Kevin Mack, RB, 88 HP
- Bo Jackson, FB, 80 HP
- Herschel Walker, RB, 80 HP
- Lionel Manuel, WR1, 32 HP


Lionel Manuel is the only receiver to have a non-48 HP rating with an extremely low 32. This means he will go down instantly on contact with a defender possessing 64 or more HP. Thus, he is not useful for getting yards after contact. This could in theory be helpful in saving time late in the game by having a lesser chance of being tied up in a grapple. That however is a very unique situation and his weak strength should largely be considered a negative.

Bo Jackson is obviously considered the best running back in the game. Though with poor acceleration he needs a step more to get up to full speed off of an average starting speed, his maximum speed is faster than any offensive player at 11, just below the worst defensive players. Once he’s in the open field, good luck stopping him. 

For Bo, the hit power is simply a boost that helps cover the weakest area of his game, getting stopped before he can build up some speed. A defender lucky enough to catch him just before Bo gets a full head of steam still might not make an impact by simply not being strong enough to tie him up for some help. 

Herschel Walker is in the top half of the RBs. He has great burst off the snap and very good maximum speed at 9. His hit power is what barely sets him apart from the likes of Curt Warner and Marcus Allen to seal him in a tier below Walter Payton, Eric Dickerson and Bo Jackson. Herschel Walker is still very good without elite HP, as proven taking handoffs from the late Wade Wilson on Famicom edition Minnesota.

Enter Kevin Mack. With a bottom of barrel 8 max speed and an average initial speed of 3, he’s not going to be leaving many defender’s jockstrap in the dust. What he MAY leave in the dust is their helmet. If he is head-on with a drone defender, it’s in his best interest to MAKE contact rather than avoiding it. If he tries to avoid it, it is likely he will get dove on, or run into some other help that he can’t skirt or blow up. Popcorning (sending them flying by making contact) some defenders that would’ve never been blown up before can lead to some runs you’ll ONLY see Kevin Mack make. A “Kevin Mack special,” as I’ve come to call it. That is where his full potential shows and highlights are made.

47 defenders are weak enough to be popcorned by the 80 HP Herschel Walker and Bo Jackson; 15 more players will be popcorned by Kevin Mack for a total of 62 defenders out of 108 defensive players. Overall, 57% of defenders will be cast aside by Kevin Mack (ironic considering 57 HP and higher is where he will stop being effective). That may seem like a high rate, and it is, but it simply does not usually lend itself to many breakaway runs unless the human defender is tied up by a blocker. Against even an okay defense Mack is likely to run into a defender he can’t throw somewhere in the middle of the scrum. 


Kevin Mack on Cleveland -

First we must talk about Cleveland overall. They are widely considered a top half team, viable against the great majority of teams because of their top-to-bottom versatility. Bernie Kosar is the fourth best quarterback in the game, in a tier of his own below the elite quarterbacks (Marino, Elway and Montana) but noticeably a cut above the likes of Dave Krieg, Doug Williams and Phil Simms. The receiving talent is above baseline, but nothing too special. Ozzie Newsome is a quality tight end helped by a couple of decent receivers. Pass 1 is a great play, parking a wide-open Ozzie at the sideline good for a least 8 yards every time. Pass 2 can be a little complex and the routes can end up fairly close. While they won’t be throwing many deep balls, between Kosar’s arm and a lot of uncontested short throws the passing game is quite good as long as you relax and don’t force any throws on Pass 2.

The offensive line has one guy with a touch of speed and popcorning power, helping to spring Gerald “Ice Cube” McNeil for long kick returns. The return game is the biggest home run threat on the team. Every kick returned by McNeil is a chance for a quick 6 on the board.
The defense stars the formidable Dawg Pound Cornerback Duo Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon, two of the very best at their respective defensive back positions. Though the front 7 offers minimal help, with these two lurking it isn’t necessary. Their positions offer a lot of flexibility with both run and pass calls. 

Considering these facets, Cleveland is a very good team that often lives up to the hype they receive. However, their biggest detraction is Kevin Mack giving them a weak ground game. He is the slowest back amongst those of the highly regarded teams. Every other top team has at least a 9 speed back. 


Drewmanster: "Ben, how much better would a 3/9 or 4/9 back make Cleveland?" Up there with Chicago, SF and NY?

F1DL5TYX: “For SURE man they'd be crazy good. Better than those Cleveland teams deserved. Really the only thing they wouldn't have those elite teams do is xp blocker”

D: How about if Mack was 4/8 speed, do you think the improvement would be enough to put Cleveland amongst those squads? Same HP

F1DL5TYX: “I think id rather have Dorsett than smith. I would trade Mack for Smith but I don't think he makes them elite”

For draft league Timmy is certainly your man, OG it's closer IMO


I will elaborate on that comment below. For now, here is some game footage. Every Kevin Mack touch against FORTYFPS’s New York, and thrown in there an example of his  blocking against George Martin (conveniently placed to remove some need to edit).

As you can see, Kevin Mack can get some work done. Somehow he managed to break a few tackles against the MAN defender, and can make some moves even against the vaunted LT and Banks. You do see several run stuffs. It can be rather feast or famine with Kevin Mack. 


Mack in the Draft League - 

In OG, having a fast running back is still very important but I would argue not so much as it is in the League, simply because not every defense will be as good. In the League we typically have 10 guys, so two of the worst defensive units by grouping will not be drafted like the San Francisco linebackers, Miami defensive backs or the entire Dallas defense. Those are groups of players that Kevin Mack can popcorn with ease. With them not drafted, Kevin Mack’s crop of popcorn dips below the 57% mentioned above. Though it’s not nearly as drastic of a downtilt as Bo or Herschel, it has a much bigger impact on Mack because he does not have the speed to make up for it.

Kevin Mack has been drafted 3 times in league history of a minimum 2. In seasons 4 and 7 he was the feature back; his teams went a combined 4-14, scoring a total of 104 points for an average of 5.77 points per game. That’s not good.

However, in both his and head coach Nelson79’s first season in the league, the Clevleand owner acquired Bo Jackson (in his even stronger and faster Famicom form) with the first overall pick. Much later in the draft, the Cleveland HC selected the Los Angeles playbook and, under the rules at the time, selected Kevin Mack right alongside it. It also being the first time LA’s playbook was drafted, concerns were raised about the viability of it due to its crippled nature in the original game. Nelson slotted in Bo as the halfback to allow use of his speed in the passing game, handing over the duties of fullback to Mack.

Nelson went 8-2 on the season (T-2nd with DPS), scoring 162 points (3rd) and traveling all the way to the Tecmo Bowl where they were felled by the legendary Season 3 Washington squad. The ground game was among the best anyone had seen to that point, not only for Bo Jackson’s brilliance but Kevin Mack’s help blocking for the Auburn alum. Now granted… this was a 12 man season, meaning Kevin Mack still popcorns 57% of the league. It’s possible his effectiveness in the scheme was significantly boosted by that and these days his impact would be more negligible.

In seasons since, Nelson and others have made good use of the playbook with a variety of running backs, including a beefed-up Moose Johnston in Season 5 where the Famicom crop of players were drafted. Over a few seasons with LA’s playbook across a few teams it has been determined that an ideal fullback in the LA system is on the slower side. That way they don’t get too much distance from the halfback they are blocking for. High hit power allows for them a higher likelihood of popcorning a defender, thus being able to block more of them on a play. You also want to have at least a little bit of speed to keep the defense honest on the fullback run. Daryl Johnston for example is slower and takes even longer to get to top speed than Kevin Mack. Checking all of these qualifications, Kevin Mack should be considered the quintessential FB in my opinion. However, he has been passed over in that role in favor of more one-dimensional fullbacks that offer more speed such as Curt Warner, the most recent FB as of Season 7. Kevin should in my opinion get another look in this role in the future.

Across his three seasons in the league Mack’s team went 12-16 with 266 points scored.  

Conclusion -
Kevin Mack’s play is still up to too many variables to say conclusively if he’s a usable option or not. Reliable, he is not. If you’re good with moves, he might perform well in OG as we’ve seen here. However the odds are that even the best of jukers will be wishing they had 4/8 speed Timmy Smith in the draft league. As a fullback in the Los Angeles scheme, he has untapped potential. All that I believe can be definitively said about Kevin Mack would be… just watch him play. If the stars align, you might see something you’ve never seen before.

UPDATE, 9/25/23 - In the Season 8 draft, Kevin Mack was taken as the last running back to Washington at pick #95. In the 4th scoring offense, Kevin Mack, in the first season with stattracking, rushed 132 (5th) times for 732 yards (7th) for 5.7 per carry (9th) and 2 touchdowns (10th). The offense was primarily driven by consistently getting Jerry Rice and Keith Jackson (Rice clone at tight end) easy receptions and yards after the catch. However, in the playoffs, Kevin Mack turned it up by increasing his yards per rush to 6.7 on a solid sample size of 27 rushes in two games. He was given the game ball after rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown in Tecmo Bowl 8 against an incredibly stout defense, also outperforming the opposing Seattle squad’s Timmy Smith (who led the regular season and playoffs with incredible volume stats).

Most importantly, on a first and 10, Kevin Mack was met at the line of scrimmage by defensive end Lee Williams (73 HP). After furiously tapping and no help coming, Kevin Mack broke free for a gain of five before being wrapped up by drones. What this proves is a theory that has been swirling around, and has gone unmentioned in this article until this point. 

In the previous few seasons we have seen Herschel Walker (usually under Chicago coach DPS) break human tackles. Earlier in Season 8, we saw Bo Jackson break a tackle on Seattle much to the chagrin of coach F1DL5TYX. And now, on the biggest stage, Kevin Mack has shown the same capability. This leads to the conclusion that taps DO matter, as long as the player being controlled already has the ability to popcorn drones… and another little nugget, a little nuance, that the developers have left for us. 

What this tells us is Kevin Mack CAN win, but he was placed in a very good situation (proven coach, elite receiver/playbook combination despite not having any routes himself) and an immensely strong defense. While he probably still shouldn’t be drafted before any running backs that are at all faster than him, in the right hands and right situation, he is not a total liability. 

Mail The League!