The 12 best video game athletes of all-time

Hopefully by now you’ve seen our week-long project this week, where you’re going to help us determine the best sports video game of all-time. But here’s another question, open for discussion: who is the best video game athlete of all-time? We’re talking about the characters in the games, not the people playing them.

Here are some names that immediately come to mind, in no particular order. Please tell us your pick, or who we forgot, in the comments.

Bo Jackson, Tecmo Super Bowl

Probably the first name that pops to many minds when you think of dominant video game athletes, Tecmo Bowl Bo was iconic and nearly impossible to tackle. His mind-boggling combination of strength and speed made him even harder to stop than he was in real life.

Michael Vick, Madden 2004/NFL Street

We all know Michael Vick is one of the most dominant video game athletes of all-time, but which version was best? Kofie Yeboah laid out the case for a few different titles. Here are a few examples from Madden:

Vick was so dominant that Madden made a Wilt Chamberlain-style rule change that seemed specifically targeted at toning him down — the now widely-derided “QB Vision” added in Madden 06.

Michael Jordan, NBA 2K11

The first of two straight appearances on 2K covers for Jordan in what were a pair of nostalgia-focused games, 2K11 included a series of challenges from Jordan’s real-life career. You could also use him in other game modes, like my friends loved to do in our 3-on-3 Blacktop challenges, and he was nearly impossible to stop.

Steph Curry, NBA 2K16

We all know Steph Curry kind of broke basketball, but he really broke video game basketball. Years of learning what was and wasn’t a good shot had to be unlearned, as Steph Curry could pull up, contested, from almost anywhere.

It’s entirely possible that video included some slider modification, but honestly, it’s impossible to tell!

Jon Dowd, MVP Baseball 05

Barry Bonds withdrew from the MLBPA’s common license agreement, opting instead to license himself (and therefore making him ineligible for MVP Baseball 05). But EA had to do something about the Giants’ superstar left fielder, so they replaced him with the fictional slugger Jon Dowd.

Just like Bonds in real life, Dowd absolutely raked.

Jeremy Roenick, NHL 94

I’ve got to be honest here: I’ve never played NHL 94, so I’m relying on the expertise of those that have. I’ve long heard of Jeremy Roenick’s dominance, and the evidence is compelling:

St. Louis Game Time argues it’s Mario Lemieux, for what it’s worth!

Ronaldinho, FIFA 06

There are few things in sports games more satisfying than dribbling around defenders in FIFA, and Ronaldinho in FIFA 06 might be the cream of the crop.

Mike Tyson, Punch-Out

Mike Tyson (or Mr. Dream, as he was later called in re-releases) was the final boss in Punch-Out!!! and is widely considered one of the hardest bosses in that era of video games.

I don’t really have a highlight video of the character in the game, so I’ll share with you instead one of the more delightful things I’ve watched this year: two guys beating the game, on one controller, while blindfolded.

Tiger Woods, Tiger Woods PGA Tour

This is one of those “he’s literally the name of the franchise” situations. There’s Tiger Woods, and then there’s Sunday Tiger Woods. Good luck beating him.

Pablo Sanchez, Backyard Baseball

Humongous Entertainment

The man, the myth, the legend. Pablo Sanchez excelled as a multi-sport athlete, but his true claim to stardom was on the baseball diamond. One of the great power hitters, nay, greatest athletes, of his generation, Pablo also excelled in football, basketball and hockey. His unassuming personality may have prevented him from becoming the household name that many others on this list became.

Peja Stojakovic, NBA Ballers

Kofie covered this in detail: Peja was flat-out unstoppable.

LeBron James, NBA 2k14

Most versions of LeBron over the last decade could be added to the list. Just like in real life, he’s nearly unstoppable when driving to the hoop, but can also pull back and hit shots, is arguably the best passer in the league and one of the best defenders.

So who’s your pick for greatest video game athlete of all-time? Who did I forget? Sound off in the comments!


Who is the G.O.A.T. video game athlete?

This poll is closed.

  • 37%

    Bo Jackson

    (849 votes)

  • 22%

    Michael Vick

    (524 votes)

  • 1%

    Michael Jordan

    (30 votes)

  • 1%

    Steph Curry

    (31 votes)

  • 1%

    Jon Dowd

    (44 votes)

  • 1%

    Jeremy Roenick

    (37 votes)

  • 0%


    (20 votes)

  • 2%

    Mike Tyson

    (46 votes)

  • 0%

    Tiger Woods

    (21 votes)

  • 27%

    Pablo Sanchez

    (628 votes)

  • 1%

    Peja Stojakovic

    (25 votes)

  • 0%

    LeBron James

    (16 votes)

  • 0%

    Other (answer in comments)!

    (18 votes)

2289 votes total

Vote Now

Read More