Tecmo Bowl’s Bo Jackson Was The Most Dominant Sports Game Character Ever


If you have played Tecmo Bowl, then you know just how legendary the Raiders’ running back Bo Jackson was in that game. The man was as electric and damn-near untouchable as he was in real life. I have played against friends who have outright banned the Raiders in that game because he was so good – a one-man cheat code designed to bring victory to anyone. If you ever threw the ball while playing as the Raiders, people would look at you in disgust, as if you did something horrendous, like picking Oddjob in Goldeneye multiplayer.


Having Bo Jackson in your backfield and not using him was like owning a Panzer Tank and deciding to drive a moped instead. By now, all fans of the game have seen the infamous run where someone takes Bo Jackson and runs with him all over the field untouched before scoring a touchdown.

Recently, I played a game against the 49ers and my offensive playbook only consisted of one play: give the ball to Bo. Safe to say I won the game, and even after running the same play five times in a row, the defense still could not handle Bo.

On the rare occasion I didn’t score a touchdown on the first play with Bo, I was still breaking off 20-plus-yard gains with the guy. He was a running nightmare and the computer had no way of stopping him. To this day there has never been an NFL player or pro athlete in any game as dominant as Bo was in Tecmo Bowl. He was one of a kind and someone to be feared. I have made guys in Madden whose ratings were all 99; naturally they were very dominant, but none were as dominant as Bo.

Years ago, Hall of Fame Chicago Bears return specialist Devin Hester became the first player to have a 100-speed rating in the series. At first, I thought this would be the new Bo Jackson, that Hester was going to be so fast that nobody could catch him. Well, I got caught a lot. Even with good blocking by my teammates I rarely walked Hester into the endzone on punt and kickoff returns. Even lining him up at receiver was not all it was cracked up to be.

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Hester was decent, but he was no Bo Jackson. With Jackson, I knew I was going to score on every drive. Every time I had the football there was only one play I had to run. The only other decision I had to make was to decide how silly I wanted to make the defense look. I could go up the middle and be past would-be defenders before they could turn their hips, or around the outside and put everyone on the spin cycle by zig-zagging all over the field.

The possibilities were endless, as was the number of wins I would rack up. I remember playing against Denver and I decided to hit the defense with the ol’ razzle-dazzle; I ran up the middle with Jackson and ran about 15 yards, then without advancing further I ran around defenders and made about six of the 11 guys miss. The others, who were busy being blocked by my offensive line, had no chance and as the game famously said on the screen “TOUCHDOWN BO JACKSON”. The man was a human highlight reel whose skillset in a video game will never be matched.

Sure you can play as Ken Griffey Jr. or make your own character in MLB The Show, but you will not be guaranteed to have multiple home run games back to back. You can take control of LeBron James in NBA 2K but there will be nights where you will not score 50 points in a game. LeBron is a great player but he cannot back down guys who are bigger than him. Even in Madden I have not come across an actual real-life running back who could match the great Bo Jackson.

Other players felt slower, which meant you’d have to run horizontally as well as vertically to gain any advantage, but not with Bo. He was and forever will be in a league of his own and the bane of everyone else’s existence whenever the Raiders are selected in the game, partly because back in those days there was less scrutiny with balancing games, which meant monsters like Bo were more likely to be created.

Why pass the ball and risk losing yards on a sack or an interception when you can just give it to Bo and have him bring you and your team to the promised land? Just give the ball to number 34 and watch him decimate the competition.

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