Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Top 10 Video Game Football Players

Football. Video Games. Just read it.
  1. Brian Moorman, P, Buffalo Bills – Madden '10
Putting a punter on this list seems crazy, since most people don't even punt in video games. How could a punter really be that great? While Moorman's kick power was very good, what made him unstoppable was his speed. He was given a 90(!) speed rating the same year Josh Cribbs, a speedy, pro bowl kick returner, was an 89 speed. Running fake punt passes on 4th and 10 and then watching your scrawny little white punter outrun an entire defense for a 25-yard gain was incredibly hilarious to do to opponents, and incredibly frustrating when done to you. Defenses had to stop lining up in punt formation to stop him, which allowed users to punt the ball 70+ yards without a punt returner. Moorman brought new meaning to field position games, and made special teams fun for once.


  1. Lawrence Taylor, LB, New York Giants – Tecmo Bowl
LT is arguably the greatest defensive player in NFL history, and his Tecmo Bowl character was even better. Virtual Taylor would shed his blocker almost immediately on every play, allowing him to rack up a half dozen sacks as well as several tackles for loss. While most defenses would need to guess the correct play to get a sack back in those days, Taylor was so good people would almost prefer to not guess correctly. It was more fun to watch LT causing havoc on his own, frustrating your friends over and over again. Running away from Taylor didn't seem to matter, as he'd just outrun the entire defense and chase down the ball carrier. No word on if virtual LT ever sent anything or anyone to opponents hotel rooms, though.

LT begins around 20 seconds in the video.


  1. Randall Cunningham, QB, Philadelphia Eagles – NFL Quarterback Club (Sega Genesis)

NFL Quarterback Club was the first game where quarterback scrambling felt like it worked. The game had a quarterback obstacle course you could play against your friends, and several drills involved actually moving with the quarterback. This aspect of the game carried over to the actual head to head gameplay. The AI in this game was better than most football game's up to that point, but if you played enough you found certain plays that were unbeatable. Cunningham's speed and throwing combination along with the game's design flaws allowed Cunningham to scramble for 60 yard runs on the same few plays if run correctly. He was faster than almost every defender, but in the rare situations a throw was necessary, Cunningham didn't make very many bad throws either. Virtual Cunningham was the first real scrambling quarterback that players could actually use to run around with. It was a lot of fun.

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  1. Randy Moss, WR, Minnesota Vikings – NFL2K (Sega Dreamcast)
The Sega Dreamcast was far ahead of it's time, but that's a discussion for another day. Randy Moss grazed the cover of the console's first NFL game. The Vikings offense in the game was loaded, coming off of it's record breaking (and heart-breaking) 1998 season. Randall Cunningham was the team's quarterback, and while he didn't run as well as his NFL Quarterback Club self, he was still great. But Moss was amazing. He'd get a 3 or 4 yard release from the corner off the snap every time, and even if the pass was badly under-thrown, Moss would simply stop, catch it, bounce off the corner's tackle and outrun the safety's to the end zone. Virtual 2K Randy was straight cash, homey. Of course, real life Randy Moss made plenty of amazing long touchdown catches, so maybe 2K got this one exactly right.


  1. Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens – Madden '05
Lewis singlehandedly changed the way the Madden developers created the game. They decided that Lewis' dominance in real life needed to be more closely mirrored in a virtual world. Enter the hit stick. Madden's developers created the hit stick to allow defensive players the opportunity to lay out an offensive player. Naturally, Lewis graced the cover of Madden '05, and his player rightfullu enjoyed the benefits. While the first year of the hit stick wasn't perfect, Ray Lewis was. At least 90% of the time a player who correctly hit sticked with Ray Ray would lay out the ball carrier, causing a fumble and/or injury. And unlike most great virtual video game players, Lewis was extremely smart so the AI did a fine job controlling him too. Playing against him meant working the sidelines and avoiding the big hits at all costs. Virtual Ray wasn't nearly as good as firing up his teammates as real life Ray, though.


  1. Jerry Rice, WR, San Francisco 49ers – Tecmo Bowl (NES)
The greatest receiver of all-time in real life, Rice's virtual counterpart wasn't far off. In the strike shortened 1987 season, Rice caught an amazing 22 touchdown passes in just 12 games that stood as the NFL record until 2007. Randy Moss finished with 23 touchdown catches that year, but he did it in 16 games and on the highest scoring offense in NFL history. As great as Moss was, Rice is without a doubt the greatest of all-time. Tecmo Bowl Jerry, based on his great '87 season, was almost always open, and with the great Joe Montana throwing the passes, players rarely ran the ball when playing with the 49ers. Corners would sit back and leave Rice open, frustrating defenses throughout the game. If the corners tried to get close, Rice always got behind them. Every once in a while Rice would even catch a pass that looked like it was going to be an interception. Throwing the ball had never been so much fun in a video game. Tecmo Jerry started the passing revolution, at least in video games.


  1. Pablo Sanchez, Every Position, No Team – Backyard Football (PC)
Backyard Football was so much fun to play. The game combined NFL players (as kids) with random neighborhood characters created by the developers. Among those kids was the greatest youngster of all-time, Pablo Sanchez. He was the fastest kid in the game, he had a great arm, and his catching rating was almost perfect. Even his tackling and blocking were better than average, even though he was the smallest kid in the game. And he could kick. He wasn't nicknamed the“Secret Weapon” for nothing. He gave your team a ton of versatility, which helped when drafting players. Watching him outrun NFL greats was almost as much fun as actually playing the game. Oh, and he was a stud on the baseball diamond too. No word on if Nike approached Pablo for a “Pablo Knows” commercial in the early 2000's.


  1. Deion Sanders, CB, Dallas Cowboys – NFL Primetime 95 (Sega Genesis)
At a time when nobody really cared much about playing defense, Deion Sanders virtual self changed that. The greatest cover corner in NFL history, Deion didn't disappoint in the game. As the cover athlete for the game Sanders was the best player in the game to play with. He could go from the sideline to the middle of the field in the time it took most quarterbacks to complete a pass, so Sanders literally took away half of the field if the player controlled him correctly. Watching Deion run 30 yards in one direction and then stopping on a dime and running 15 yards in 1 second to intercept a Brett Favre pass deep down the middle was a thing of beauty, even if it was totally fake. Many sega controllers were broken thanks to Deion's coverage skills.

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  1. Bo Jackson, RB, Oakland Raiders – Tecmo Bowl (NES)
Long considered the greatest video game character in sports history, Bo only made it to #2 on this list. Despite not garnering the top spot, Bo was amazing. With his ridiculous speed and agility players could literally weave and dodge tacklers all around the field while running with Bo. Even the aforementioned Lawrence Taylor didn't have a chance against video game Bo. With only one play in the Raiders playbook (anymore would have been unfair) Bo was still basically impossible to stop. Virtual Bo knew how to score touchdowns, and his hip always held up.


  1. Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons – Madden '04
95 speed, 97 acceleration and 98 throw power made Michael Vick literally unstoppable in Madden '04. Most linebackers speed ratings were in the low-to-mid 70's still at this point, so playing with Vick was the most unfair thing anyone could do. Players could roll out with him and throw the ball 70 yards down the field right on target, or simply run past the entire defense on a scramble for a long touchdown run. While real Michael Vick failed to live up to his potential and made some poor life choices, virtual Michael Vick will live in infamy as the greatest video game football player of all-time.

Watch the play starting around 50 seconds into the video. You could do this every time.