Bo Jackson and 25 Athletes Not As Good As Their Video Game Counterparts

Elliott Pohnl@@ElliottPohnl_BRFeatured ColumnistNovember 19, 2010

Bo Jackson and 25 Athletes Not as Good as Their Video Game Counterparts

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    LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 13:  Running back Bo Jackson #34 of Los Angeles Raiders breaks free on the open field against the Cincinnati Bengals defense during the 1990 AFC Divisional Playoffs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 13, 1991 in Los Ange
    George Rose/Getty Images

    Bo Jackson was simply one of the best athletes ever to live.

    But for all of that athletic brilliance, Bo never knew prolonged stretches of dominance as a pro on the gridiron or the diamond.

    It's a good thing there aren't any career-ending injuries in video games.

    Jackson's speed and strength made him basically impossible to stop in Tecmo Superbowl, one of the most fun and least realistic games ever.

    On the defensive side of the ball, it was a normal occurrence for Lawrence Taylor to record 23 sacks in a single game.

    Although Jackson and Taylor were real-world legends, the success of some athletes was reserved almost exclusively for the virtual world.

    So let's think back to jamming tokens into the arcade machine, slapping our N64 consoles and screaming obscenities at the top of our lungs.

    Here's a look at the 25 most inflated video game athletes of all time.

25. Barack Obama and Sarah Palin, NBA Jam

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    Obama might have a sweet shot, but his slow-developing jump shot and feeble frame wouldn't allow him to stack up against NBA competition.

    Who needs to shoot when you can jump like that?

    Speaking of shooting, Sarah Palin made the jump from the wilderness of Alaska to the asphalt in NBA Jam.

    You have to wonder how former President William Taft would have been rated in the game.

    He probably would have made a fantastic power forward.

24. Eddie George, Madden 2001

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    NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 7:  Charles Woodson #24 of the Oakland Raiders goes after Eddie George #27 of the Tennessee Titans on September 7, 2003 at the The Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Raiders 25-20. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Ge
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Eddie George was the face of the Jeff Fisher's Titans, running over tacklers and piling up yards and touchdowns.

    Just don't take a look at his yards per carry numbers.

    Nonetheless, the gurus at EA made him the Cover Boy and much faster than he was in real life.

    There's nothing like an idealized version of NFL players to enhance the gaming experience.

23. Steve Francis, NBA Live

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    OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 29:  Steve Francis #3 of the Houston Rockets stumbles as Baron Davis #5 of the Golden State Warriors defends during first-half action November 29, 2007 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Ima
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Steve Francis had a couple good years in the NBA, showcasing explosive hops, killer crossovers and 3-point range.

    And with that, a video game legend was born.

    Stevie Franchise remained a star in the gaming world long after his NBA skills began to mysteriously decline.

22. Luke Schenscher, or Any Crappy Big Man in EA's NCAA Hoops Games

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    CHICAGO - APRIL 27:  Jason Williams #55 of the Miami Heat puts up a shot against Luke Schensher #45 of the Chicago Bulls in game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2006 NBA Playoffs on April 27, 2006 at the United Center in Chicago,
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Let's make poor, helpless Luke Schenscher a stereotype.

    No, not because he is a dopey, sloth-footed center who couldn't jump.

    Simply because it his players like him that make all college basketball video games awful to play.

    At any given moment, Schenscher would make like Bill Russell and finish with a crazy stat line.

    Schensher: 12 minutes played, 20 points, 15 rebounds and 13 blocks.

    And they said Jarrett Jack was the star of those Yellow Jacket teams...

21. Randall Cunningham, Tecmo Bowl

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    3 Sep 2000: Quarterback Randall Cunningham #7 of the Dallas Cowboys runs into a passing position during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at the Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas.  The Eagles defeated the Cowboys 41-14.Mandatory Credit: Ronald Martine
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Randall Cunningham was a fantastic runner who had a strong arm.

    But could he really throw the ball 110 yards?

    He certainly could in Tecmo Bowl, when it was commonplace to see him find Irving Fryar downfield for 90-yard touchdowns.

20. Larry Bird, NBA 2K3

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    Undated:  Forward Larry Bird of the Boston Celtics looks on. NOTE TO USER:  It is expressly understood that the only rights Allsport are offering to license in this Photograph are one-time, non-exclusive editorial rights.  No advertising or commercial use
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    Larry Legend was inserted into NBA 2K3 and was a dominant force to say the least.

    It seemed odd to insert a vertically-challenged player like Bird into a modern video game.

    Kids these days probably would rather play 1-on-1 as Larry Hughes instead of Larry Bird.

19. Shawn Bradley, NBA Street

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    DALLAS - APRIL 25:  Forward Tracy McGrady #1 of the Houston Rockets makes the slam dunk on top of Shawn Bradley #44 of the Dallas Mavericks in Game two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2005 NBA Playoffs on April 25, 2005 at the American
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    NBA Street was really a pretty cool idea.

    Where else could an alien match-up against an NBA legend like Dr. J?

    And where else could a 7'7" center who got dunked on at will during his real-life NBA career suddenly become a monster?

    Video game Shawn Bradley blocked every shot, could handle the ball and even talked a little junk.

18. Didier Drogba, FIFA World Cup South Africa

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Didier Drogba of Chelsea applauds during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on November 14, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
    Scott Heavey/Getty Images

    Drogba is one of the many reasons that playing this game was more fun than watching the actual World Cup.

    In addition to a quiet, peaceful crowd without vuvuzelas blaring in the background, Drogba had the ability to dominate at will.

    He almost never lost the ball, making it possible for numerous coast-to-coast breakaways.

    And if you didn't have the desire to run through the defenders, you could simply launch a shot from 150' or so and call it good.

17. Ken Griffey, Jr. in Any of His Own Games

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    Griffey was breathtaking in Seattle, but not that breathtaking.

    He could belt 900-foot moon ball home runs, steal 200 bases in a season and catch everything in the outfield.

    Somehow, the game never seemed to get old.

16. Reggie Bush, Madden 2007

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    SAN FRANCISCO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Reggie Bush #25 of the New Orleans Saints in action during their game against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Reggie Bush made defenses look silly during his college days at USC.

    Since then, he has made the New Orleans Saints look silly for selecting him as the running back of the future.

    The programmers at Madden evidently were wooed by his highlight-reel plays.

    During his rookie season, he was rated at 87 overall, and good enough to destroy opposing defenses.

    There was no point in yelling "he won't be that good," because he was that good.

    Virtual reality can be so frustrating at times.

15. Shawn Kemp, NBA Jam

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    Wait, wasn't Shawn Kemp actually really good in real life?

    Yes, he was.

    But not as good as he was in NBA Jam.

    Aside from being the Bulls, there was no better NBA Jam squad than the Seattle Supersonics.

    Of course, Kemp could knock down threes from the sweet spot while jumping over everybody.

    Even in the inflated universe of NBA Jam, his power really stood out.

14. J.R. Redmond, NCAA Football '99

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    6 Nov 1999:  J.R Redmond #21 of the Arizona State Sun Devils carries the ball in for a touchdown during the game against the USC Trojans at the LA Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The Sun Devils defeated the Trojans 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Steve Gray
    Steve W. Grayson/Getty Images

    J.R. Redmond, Robert Edwards, Onterrio Smith.

    You can pretty much take your pick among the good to great college running backs who were dominant video game players.

    We'll make Redmond the poster boy.

    His Arizona State teams were spectacular forces in the virtual world, thanks to his ability to outrun just about every opposing player.

    It's amazing he didn't last longer in the NFL.

13. The Woody Dantzler Principal, NCAA Football

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    Woody Dantzler was one of the biggest culprits behind the inflated ratings of EA Sports' NCAA Football games.

    Dantzler was not only given great speed and agility by EA, he was also given a strong arm.

    And an accurate arm.

    His inflated attributes made life difficult on opponents, who had a hard time figuring out how to stop a dual-threat quarterback.

    There's a reason he ended up being used strictly as a kick returner during his brief NFL career.

12. The Pat Swilling Principal, Tecmo Superbowl

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    11 Oct 1998:  Defensive end Pat Swilling #56 of the Oakland Raiders in action during the game against the San Diego Chargers at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 7-6.
    David Taylor/Getty Images

    Derrick Thomas and Lawrence Taylor could get around the edge and sack quarterbacks at will.

    So could Pat Swilling.

    It didn't always work against a human opponent, but blizting a decent linebacker like Swilling off the edge absolutely befuddled the computer.

    Thankfully, AI has come a long way since the '90s.

11. Brad Lohaus, NBA Jam

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    1989-1990:  Forward J. R. Reid of the Charlotte Hornets (left) battles for the ball with center Brad Lohaus of the Milwaukee Bucks during a game at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Mandatory Credit: Allsport  /Allsport
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Brad Lohaus was a timid big man who could stroke it from 3-point range.

    Apparently, that's why he was paired with Blue Edwards as part of the Milwaukee Bucks' dynamic duo on NBA Jam.

    Like everyone in the game, he could make 3-pointers from that awesome sweet spot and finish at the rim.

    After his playing days, Lohaus bought a bar and decided to have an NBA Jam arcade machine installed.

    He became famous for playing the game--as himself--and refusing to take on any challengers that came his way.

    Talk about giving a whole new meeting to the create-a-player feature.

10. Brian Bosworth, Tecmo Bowl

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    10 Sep 1989: A close up of Brian Bosworth #55 of the Seattle Seahawks as he looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles defeated the Seahawks 31-7.
    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Bosworth was one weird dude who rubbed just about everybody the wrong way.

    His antics during his college days became more memorable than his dominant play on the field.

    After hand-picking his choice of teams in the NFL, Boz ended up with the Seattle Seahawks.

    He signed a big contract and was slated to be the linebacker of the future.

    And, of course, his video game likeness was created to be an unstoppable force coming off the edge.

    There was one thing he could never do, in real life or in virtual reality.

    He couldn't stop Bo Jackson.

9. Vince Young, NCAA Football 2006

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    Vince Young was a great college player, but his attributes made him one of the best video game players ever.

    Not only could he throw the deep ball and short passes, he couldn't be tackled.

    In fact, it was entirely possible to let him stand in the pocket and take hits while the receivers went deep.

    After that, it just came down to pressing square and watching the Longhorns waltz in for another score.

8. Jeremy Roenick, NHL '94

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    Roenick was by far the best player in NHL '94, unable to be defeated by any physical checks.

    He also never seemed to actually misfire on a shot towards the net.

    As good as Wayne Gretzky was, his video game legacy has nothing on Jeremy Roenick.

7. Devin Hester, Madden 2008

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    Hester was a record-setting return man, but he wasn't the first fast dude to ever play in the NFL.

    However, he was the first Madden player to be given 100 speed in the storied history of the game.

    Those return skills lasted for two more seasons, before he was shifted to receiver and seemed to lose much of his burst.

    If Devin Hester gets 100 in speed, Darrell Green should get least.

6. Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson, NBA Jam

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    The young Hornets duo was absolutely captivating in NBA Jam.

    Both players were beasts, and adding 3-point range to make Mourning even better was icing on the cake.

    If only we could all have a giant arcade game in our house.

5. Michael Vick, Madden 2004

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    Back before his progression as a quarterback, Vick was really a very bad passer.

    Gamers didn't have to worry about that as they scrambled for touchdowns and threw bombs down the field.

    You could make a case Vick is the best modern day video game player ever.

4. Adrian Peterson, NCAA 2007

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    Peterson was a great college player and an even better video game college player.

    You could justify the speed, power and breaking tackles attributes.

    But never fumbling the ball?  Not even getting a little tired?

    That just didn't make sense.

3. Christian Okoye, Tecmo Bowl

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    The Nigerian Nightmare could beat video game players in a number of ways.

    His greatest talent was colliding with defenders, stopping for a second before they fell to the ground and he ran for his ninth touchdown of the game.

    The creators of Tecmo Bowl also made him much faster than he was in real life.


2. Bo Jackson, Tecmo Bowl

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    Barry Sanders was fast, but Bo Jackson was shot out of a cannon when he got the ball.

    Just preventing him from scoring was a minor miracle.

    It's too bad that hip injury knocked him out of the NFL, otherwise he could have made the jump into the modern era of gaming.

    That would have been something.

1. Mike Tyson, Mike Tyson's Punch Out

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    Sure, you've heard stories about people beating Mike Tyson.

    But have you actually seen it happen?

    There was no beating Iron Mike in his own game, making it completely unrealistic.

    Maybe that's why it was so completely addictive.


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