Shack Chat: What is your favorite football video game?

Before the NFL wraps up their season, the Shacknews staff weighs in with our favorite football video games of all-time.


This is normally where you could find us trying to parody some NFL Films-style narration. Outside of Donovan and a few other performances, though, you might have seen on the Shacknews Twitch channel that a chunk of us are not very good at this football thing. That's not going to stop us from weighing in on our favorite football game of all-time for this week's Shack Chat question. We'll give you all a hint: It's not Madden NFL 22.

Shack Chat: What is your favorite football video game?

NFL Blitz - Ozzie Mejia, Senior Gridiron Editor

Even before Madden took the Pepsi plunge off a cliff, I was never really into simulation football. That was probably obvious by my performance in the staff's Madden tournament earlier this week. I've always been all about arcade football.

With that said, NFL Blitz was the absolute best. Easy controls, a breakneck pace, little downtime, and hard hits made for a fun afternoon with friends. Forget strategy, just go balls-to-the-wall and see who could light up the scoreboard the fastest. And, of course, I loved the late hits. Late hits were hilarious, back in a more innocent time before we knew about the long-term damage of repeated head trauma.

Madden NFL 10 - Donovan Erskine, John Madden Memorial Shack Staff Super Challenge 2022 Champion

When my dad got me my own Xbox 360 in 2009, the two games I owned were Modern Warfare 2 and Madden 10. I played that game for hours on end, messing with rosters and creating silly teams, and playing against my siblings until the early hours in the morning, creating our own narratives and letting the drama play out on the field.

I also spent a lot of time trying to get all of the achievements in Madden 10. In particular, I remember the achievement that required you to stand in the pocket for 10 seconds, and another that tasked you with triggering a gang tackle with 7 or more players. They were actually really challenging and creative. I also think that that two-player cover art is gorgeous, despite my burning hatred for Hines Ward and the Steelers.

NFL Blitz (PS1) - Blake Morse, Co-EIC

I friggin’ love the NFL Blitz franchise so much. It was just such a brutal and zany over-the-top take on arcade football. It took all the awesome little side details from the NBA Jam series and injected them into gridiron goofery. I loved the arcade version, but getting my game on with the PS1 version and my homies after school at my buddy Mike’s place was where it was at back in the late 90’s. We’d all mess around and do our best to enter in as many cheat codes as we could before the game loaded in. Winner would play the next opponent and it was probably the only time in my life where I actually stood a chance of beating all my friends who played Madden on the regular. The NFL has basically killed this franchise because of all the corny late hits and what have you, but they can’t take my precious memories of after school shenanigans with all my friends.

NFL Blitz - Morgan Shaver, New Kid on the Block

I’ll be honest, I haven’t had a lot of experience in the realm of football games so this is a tricky question for me to answer. After reading through Ozzie and Blake’s reasons for picking NFL Blitz, and looking into the game on my own, I’m going to go ahead and say NFL Blitz is my favorite football game. There’s a distinct level of charm to NFL Blitz that I really enjoy, along with its approachability. You won’t spend too much time fumbling around with the controls, NFL Blitz is a game you can jump right into and enjoy. The game keeps you invested too with its quick pacing, plus the fun of getting knocked down in the game, which is more amusing than it is frustrating. I love a game where you can channel your inner Tubthumping by Chumbawamba and get knocked down, but you get back up again. And they can never keep you down.

ESPN NFL 2K5 - Sam Chandler, On defense

ESPN NFL 2K5 marks a special time for fans of the NFL games. It marked the last one in the 2K series before the landscape changed to be basically Madden-only, thanks to EA’s deal. And now look at the state of things. But as for NFL 2K5, it had another massive selling point - quite literally - it’s low price. Buying a new football game each year takes a toll on the wallet, so the fact it was considerably cheaper than the standard made it far more approachable for a lot of players.

ESPN NFL 2K5 - Chris Jarrard, Thinks Derrick Brooks is the GOAT

This is the football game that was so fun, detailed, and dynamic that EA felt compelled to use their muscle to enter an exclusive deal with the NFL to produce licensed video games. Built on the foundation started with NFL 2K for the Dreamcast, ESPN NFL 2K5 was unmatched in presentation quality, graphics fidelity (particularly with the bump-mapped jersey textures on Xbox), and its ability to simulate NFL football on a home console. Even to this day, the game stands as a high water mark for video game football and you could argue that it’s innovative TV broadcast-style presentation has yet to be eclipsed by any sports title. Honorable mention goes to Tecmo Bowl/Tecmo Super Bowl for the NES.

Mutant League Football - Bill Lavoy, Co-EIC

I don’t really follow football or enjoy the sport the same way that my colleagues do, but I have played a few football games in my time. This started way back in the 90s when I was just getting into high school with Mutant League Football. My buddy and I used to hang out in his room and listen to Metallica and White Zombie while playing Mutant League Football on the Sega Genesis. We loved the game, and it still easily stands as my favorite football memory in terms of video games.

NFL 2K2 - TJ Denzer, Senior News Editor

One of the last great swansongs of the Dreamcast era of games, NFL 2K2 was one of the last times I remember having a really, really good time with a proper NFL-licensed game. In my opinion, the game was equal parts as silly as it was good football without being NFL Blitz. For one, the Houston Texans had just become a franchise that year and were included in the game, but it didn’t have an actual roster, so the team is just filled with stock characters and placeholders instead.

Then there was the create-a-player. I remember making the tallest skinniest guy possible and the smallest fattest guy possible and maxing out their stats. Then my buddies and I would watch with utter delight as these weirdly proportioned monsters would jet down the field as I scrambled back into my own endzone and threw 80 year passes to them, which they would catch. Real throwing physics was not NFL 2K’s strong suit early on. It was a wild west of the most absolutely stupid and hilarious passing I’ve ever seen, but I’ll never forget what kind of ridiculous comedy and rivalry that made for my friends and me when we played.

NFL2K/NFL Street-Steve Tyminski, Stevetendo show host, New York Jets Fan!

The biggest football game of the year, the Super Bowl, is this weekend. The Bengals and Rams will play to determine the best of the best. That being said, it gets you thinking what football video game is the best? If I had to narrow it down to two video games, I would have to pick between NFL2K and NFL Street.

The NFL2K games on the Dreamcast were some of the best games the system had to offer. The Dreamcast was an underrated system but the NFL and NHL2K franchises were excellent sport titles. They had the right amount of arcade and realism that makes a football game a good football game. NFL2K still has some of the best controls for a football game and you could call plays on the Dreamcast memory card so your opponent couldn’t see what you were calling.

On the other hand, NFL Street was everything the National Football League doesn’t want to be now. It was like backyard football where you could showboat for skill points and make huge, fumble-causing, hits. I remember playing at my friends house and after high-stepping into the end zone after catching a behind the back throw, I knew I needed to get this game!

NFL 2K3 - Dennis White, Social Media Guru

The nostalgia for this game is real. For me, I was just starting to really get into the cult of Chicago football after leaning more towards basketball most of my young life. Can you blame me, The Bulls were the stuff of legends at the time.

But the hype for Bears football and particularly Bears defensive football was strong in my household and apparently in 2K offices as Brian Urlacher graced the cover of the game. This was also the first football game I purchased. Sure I played NFL Blitz and other titles but majority of the time it was at a friends’ house or borrowed from a cousin. This game hit a ton of sweet spots with the gameplay and player control. Yes things could get somewhat ridiculous depending on team ratings but it was always a fun time. I still have a GameCube memory card save somewhere in a closet just in case I need to show the kids how it’s done one day.

Tecmo Super Bowl - Asif Khan, Shacknews Luminary/Lola’s Assistant

Back in my day, we didn’t need fancy 3D football video games. We had a 2D side-scrolling football game and it only came with 8 plays. What’s amazing about the minimalist design of Tecmo Bowl and its much better successor Tecmo Super Bowl is that the gameplay is far superior to present day Madden NFL games. The franchise progression in Season Mode is honestly more enjoyable than Madden’s farce of a franchise and DJ Khaled modes. Ultimately, Tecmo Super Bowl is fun, with an incredibly silly and detailed soundtrack, ground-breaking cutscenes, and a Cleveland Browns team that doesn’t make me want to cry when I select them.

Those are our picks for this Super Bowl Sunday. What say you, the Shacknews community? Join the conversation and weigh in with your favorite football video game of all-time.

Shack Staff stories are a collective effort with multiple staff members contributing. Many of our lists often involve entires from several editors, and our weekly Shack Chat is something we all contribute to as a group. 

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