Tony Sears and Bryan Hanks reflect on 2016 incident

Tony Sears and Bryan Hanks reflect on 2016 incident

The year was 2016. The setting was Neuse News Editor Bryan Hanks' palatial estate. 

It was Super Bowl Sunday. I can't remember who was playing because, well, I haven't watched an NFL game since Tom Landry wore a Kangol. In all honesty, I was just as concerned with the outcome of the Kitten Bowl and I don't even really care for cats. None of that mattered, however, because the real matchup that day was between Hanks and City of Kinston Manager Tony Sears.

For weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, Hanks and Sears taunted each other on social media over who was the best Madden player. In case you don't know, Madden is a frighteningly realistic video football game. Hanks always plays as the Washington Redskins. I'm not sure which team Tony Sears played as; all I know is he beat Hanks like a rented mule.

What made Sears' domination of Hanks so mesmerizing was the level of junk talking that went on between the two men leading up to the event.

"It was epic," Sears said recently on Twitter. "Mr. Hanks was delusional like most individuals who are advanced in age and try to relive their glory days by taking on a younger, smarter, faster, better-looking version of themselves. It was Hanks' last-ditch effort to cheat Father Time or maybe just himself."

Having witnessed Hanks play Madden a few times over the years, I have to say I've observed births, weddings and paramilitary coups that are less emotional. Olympic medalists who miss the gold by a tenth of a second aren't as downtrodden and upset as Hanks is when he fumbles a pass that doesn't exist in the real world.

"You realize this isn't real, don't you?" I've said to Hanks many times while he's playing Madden. "You know you're just clicking buttons on a game controller, right? The little football players don't live in the TV, so you can stop pouring Gatorade in there."

"The sad thing is I have no retort," Hanks said on the phone from Madden training camp in Florida. "Tony Sears dominated the game, pure and simple. The scar from the trouncing Sears gave me that day has never completely healed and neither has the scar on my elbow I received when Bea Arthur's bodyguard shoved me out of her way at Golden Girls Fest '97."

Family, friends, clergy and legal counsel have urged Hanks to stay away from Madden competition. Even the game's namesake - football legend John Madden - has written several letters to members of local law enforcement pleading with them to remove the PlayStation system from Hanks' home.

"When we developed the Madden video game we didn't realize it would be possible for anyone to be as bad at it as Bryan Hanks is," said Madden publicist Calvert DeForest. "I've seen people just sit motionless without touching the controls for an entire game score more points than Bryan Hanks did versus Tony Sears."

After a recent online dustup between Sears and Hanks, Hanks has demanded a rematch.

"Hopefully we'll be able to film the competition," said Neuse News Publisher B.J. Murphy. "The plan is to have our sports writer Junious Smith III do pregame interviews and provide commentary. Look for it before Christmas or not at all if Hanks comes to his senses."

Junious Smith III had only this to say regarding a Hanks/Sears rematch: "Harper Lee wrote that real courage is when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. Let's just say Bryan Hanks is very courageous. Very."

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