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Jeremy Roenick retires as best video game hockey player ever

After 20 years in the NHL, Jeremy Roenick has decided to retire from the league. Topping the list of Roenick’s off-ice achievements are two items related to the God-like status of the then-Chicago Blackhawks center in NHL 94.

Sports video games

Reading this Salon article on sports video games brought back a ton of memories from college. I never got into Madden properly, but I played a ton of Tecmo Bowl, Tecmo Super Bowl, and NHL ‘94, the latter of which is, in my estimation, the best sports video game of all time (with which Stewart would agree, I’m sure). A quote from the article:

[Bo] Jackson isn’t the only athlete to have achieved fame for his video game likeness. Then-Chicago Blackhawks forward Jeremy Roenick’s ability to fill the net and make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed in the “NHLPA ‘93” game was immortalized in the 1996 cult film “Swingers.”

Roenick was good in ‘93, but with the much-improved gameplay in NHL ‘94, he was a monster. He was blazingly fast, had a quick stick, could stop on a dime, had the hardest shot in the game, and was easily capable of racking up 15-20 goals in three 5-minute periods. But he also had an unfair advantage over other players in the league because the Blackhawks were such a great team. Players like Steve Yzerman, Pavel Bure, Teemu Selanne, and Alexander Mogilny matched up well with Roenick skill-wise, but their teams just weren’t as dominant overall. Not to mention that you couldn’t taunt your opponents with new Roenick-related lyrics to Pearl Jam’s Jeremy (GarageBand karaoke version coming soon) as easily while piloting Bure or Selanne through the heart of their defense for a completely demoralizing goal. Oh, the sting of being taunted with ad-libbed Pearl Jam.

The article also links to an article by Bill Simmons for ESPN Magazine about video game football. Near the bottom of the piece, there’s a list of the top video game football players of all time, on which is Randall Cunningham at #3:

The best video game QB of all-time. You could roll him out to either side, scramble for first downs, throw 70 yards with him, avoid sacks…and he never self-destructed like he did in real life. Regardless of how his NFL career turned out, he’ll always have his video game career to fall back on.

Based upon my experience with Cunningham in Tecmo Super Bowl, I’d put him at #1. The Eagles, who were not a great team in the game, were unstoppable with a properly coached Cunningham at the helm, mainly because he was a double threat at all times. He had the arm of Dan Marino and the wheels of Bo Jackson. If all the receivers were covered, you could just take off running and get a first down every time.

My sophomore year in college, a group of friends and I played an entire Tecmo season and I luckily drew the Eagles out of the hat during the team selection process. With a near-guaranteed first down (or touchdown) every time I had the ball, I rampaged through the regular season with a perfect record and a ridiculous quarterback rating only to buckle under the pressure in the playoffs. In the next season we started (but never finished), the Eagles were not included in the hat. Go, Randall!