Today is Michael Vick's 40th birthday, and for all he did on the real football field, any discussion of him will always lead back to his likeness in Madden 04 — arguably the greatest sports video game character of all-time.
To the best of my recollection, I got an XBOX and Madden 04 for Christmas in 2003 and that was the first video game I ever played. And as everyone knows, playing with the Falcons was unfair. Scrambling with any quarterback other than Lamar Jackson or Patrick Mahomes is nearly impossible on Madden now, but Vick could have been the best running back in the game if you wanted to line him up there.
There was no reason to ever run any play other than lining up in shotgun for a "pass" and then just rolling out and taking off for a damn near guaranteed first down, if not a whole lot more — and then if you absolutely had to, you could get the ball to Warrick Dunn or Brian Finneran. There has not been anybody in a sports video game since who has come close to the level Vick was on in Madden 04.
But for all the people born in the '90s who will swear by Madden 04 Vick, there is another crowd who claims a different sports video game character is the best to ever do it: Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson.
The extent of my Tecmo Bowl knowledge is that you have to run in zig-zag patterns, so I went to check out some highlights of Jackson and I found the claims of his greatness to be substantiated. He can just do whatever he wants. At least the Madden defenders were theoretically capable of tackling Vick if he was right in front of them.
I can't personally speak to Jackson's greatness since Tecmo Bowl was released a decade prior to my birth, but I reached out to Barstool's resident '80s video game expert Brandon F. Walker for a comment on this matter, thinking surely he would defend Jackson and his era.
However, I was shocked when he responded to my request for comment.
"Bo Jackson was the greatest video game athlete of all-time until Madden 04 Vick," Walker said. "Vick was Bo but he could also throw the ball 70 yards and dipshits used to cheat the system and put Vick everywhere and it pissed me off."
Well there you have it. I have always said if Brandon and I agree on anything, it is the stone cold truth because it's exceedingly rare we agree on anything.
Both of these guys are worthy of the crown, but there's simply no way I could ever vote against my childhood icon. Vick will forever be the greatest to ever do it on a virtual football field.