In all honesty though, being a fan of watching football is a fairly recent thing for me. Growing up, I was never really all that into it. I did enjoy playing it, however. Particularly the video game versions. As a matter of fact, I've been enjoying them in one form or another since the late '80s. Here is a list of 6 of my favorites.
Now, all that all being said, despite the conferences being real, the teams were not. Also, the passing could be quite difficult to pull off. Finally, while the two-player mode was pretty much everything you would have expected it to be, the single-player portion left a lot to be desired. You couldn't take turns with the computer on offense and defense and you couldn't play a full 4-quarter game. Instead, the game only let you play offense and the it started you out at the beginning of the 4th quarter, already trailing the other team (usually by a couple of touchdowns). Despite these grievances, Great Football still managed to be an entertaining take on the football (especially with two players). No small feat, given that it also happened to be one of the first virtual versions of the sport ever produced.
Even though Madden 95 wasn't the first entry in this legendary franchise, it was certainly one of the most popular early versions. It also served as my entry point into the series. I've played many versions over the years and most (if not all) were certainly better looking and better playing than the 95 version. But 95 was my introduction. 95 was the one I probably spent the most time with (sadly). And 95 will always be the quintessential classic in my eyes.
The 2K series was the only truly viable threat to EA's dominance over the video game football market, and it arguably stayed consistently better than Madden for most of the too few years it was around. Unfortunately by 2004, EA had had enough of too much fair competition and decided to purchase the exclusive rights to make games for the NFL. While EA may have taken away any chance at ever again seeing NFL game alternatives as good or better than Madden, they can never take away the 6 glorious installments the 2K series was able to bestow upon fans everywhere.