Despite appearing in it, Tuff Harris has never played the Madden NFL 12 video game.
He does, however, remember the days of the original Nintendo Entertainment System when, as a child, he ventured into a virtual world where he could be actual football players.
“I enjoy old-school games, Tecmo Super Bowl,” said the six-foot, 198-pound defensive back, who joined the Eskimos on Aug. 30.
The 28-year-old Montana product played for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins in 2007 and the Tennessee Titans in 2008, as well as on the practice squads of the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers.
But long before that, Harris played the virtual versions of the NFL in the first video-game franchise to ever include the actual teams as well as names and likenesses of players.
“That’s where it all basically originated with the stats and stuff because you could keep stats through the season,” Harris recalled. “That was the best game when it came out because it wasn’t just the one-time game, you’re done. All year you’re working on this thing.”
That was back in 1991.
“I still play that every once in a while, I go back and play that,” Harris said. “What’s really cool, just being in the NFL for four years, was being able to meet a lot of those players. Some of them are coaches, some of them are at charity golf events and stuff.
“And I meet them and I’m like: ‘I used to play you in Tecmo Super Bowl, so that’s awesome.”
So it was like having things come full-circle once Harris played college football at Montana.
“When NCAA came out, I was on one of those and I was able to see someone play me on there,” Harris said. “That year, I had long hair, too, but they had me in braids. That was interesting.”
As was the time he got to meet former New York Jets receiver Al Toon and quarterback Ken O’Brien.
“I played those guys, met them. I’m in a video game now and a lot of kids will come up and say, ‘I played you,’ ” Harris said. “A lot of times it’s with the Steelers. They’re like, ‘Troy (Polamalu) got hurt, you came in and I made a pick and scored a touchdown. It was awesome!’ ”
In Madden 12, Harris’s virtual self is noted as having a high motor.
“That’s good, I like that. That sounds like a good description, I’ll take it,” Harris said. “Just from whistle to whistle, I go as hard as I can. A lot of times, my reps are limited, the number of plays I get, but I go as hard as I can every play.
“And even if I play the whole game, I hope I’m in shape enough to do that. That’s something I actually pride myself on and I’m glad it’s in the game.”
UP-HILL BATTLE: Eskimos LB T.J. Hill has been taken off the nine-game injured list and was cleared to participate fully in practice Friday. The fifth-year veteran missed the last three games with a shoulder/neck injury.
IN AND OUT: After sitting out this week with the flu, RB Calvin McCarty returned to practice Friday. WR Marcus Henry remained out with illness. RG Greg Wojt (ankle) sat out again but is expected to play Monday.