This NFL preseason has seen some of the most dramatic quarterback shakeups in years. Peyton Manning is on a new team. Rookies Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, Ryan Tannehill, and Brandon Weeden are being immediately thrust into starting roles. Some once-elite veterans, such as Philip Rivers, may or may not be able to return to form.
There's a lot to review before the 2012 season starts in earnest, so let's do that. And let's do it by comparing each quarterback to a video game weapon.
MICHAEL VICK, EAGLES:
Proximity mines (Goldeneye 007, Nintendo 64, 1997)
Allowing for proximity mines in a multiplayer Goldeneye 007 match was a statement of resignation. You go in thinking you'd be able to strategically plant mines in hallways and blind spots to brilliantly vanquish your opponent.
What really happens: you re-spawn next to the proximity mines, and your screen-looking friends instantly know where you are. You have no gun. You have five seconds until they find you. Oh God. Just throw the mines. Throw them everywhere. Doesn't matter where.
Vick, as usual, will last about 10 seconds this season before he's knocked out by a rib injury or something. But those are going to be a really, really fun 10 seconds. He's going to blow everyone up and everyone is going to die.
ROBERT GRIFFIN III, REDSKINS:
Spectre (Twisted Metal, Playstation, 1995)
Robert Griffin III is really, really fast. His 40 time at the combine was faster than Cam Newton's, and for that matter, any quarterback in NFL Combine history aside from Michael Vick's. He is as fun to watch as Spectre -- which, as a vehicle in a car combat game, qualifies as a weapon -- was to drive.
Aside from blinding speed, Spectre possessed a supernatural power that allowed it to shoot through obstacles, thereby bending laws of logic. RG3 can do this, too:
TONY ROMO, COWBOYS:
Chain whip (Road Rash II, Sega Genesis, 1993)
This isn't fair to Tony Romo, at all, but he has the look of a quarterback who's just kind of trying to survive. I see it whenever he makes a short throw. He throws with his arm and his arm only; the rest of his body is preoccupied with trying to simply endure football.
It's like a football game is a race to him. He'll play as much quarterback as he has to to get everyone off his back, but like a racer in Road Rash brandishing a chain with a free hand, he's really just racing for the finish line, praying for the game to be over. That is his metric for success: "is it over yet?"
ELI MANNING, GIANTS:
Keshik (Civilization V, PC/Mac, 2010)
The Keshik is the signature unit of the Mongolian civilization. It's an archer on horseback, which means it can fire its arrows at you and run away in the same turn so you usually can't hit back. It's an hugely effective weapon, but up until this point, Mongolia is sort of an average civilization. You're best advised to keep to yourself and start as little trouble as possible until you research the necessary technologies to produce the Keshik. Then you go wreck shit.
Eli Manning is a perfectly serviceable quarterback during the regular season, but the Giants' best bet has been to spend the regular season researching metal casting and animal husbandry, and just wait it out until they reach the playoffs, where Manning has won eight of his last nine games. Last season, they won the Super Bowl despite finishing with a negative point differential in the regular season.
If the NFL ever releases a patch for its sport, I imagine this will be corrected.
JAY CUTLER, BEARS:
Baby Moses (Bible Adventures, NES, 1991)
Bible Adventures is kind of Internet-famous at this point for being a terrible video game. I had it as a kid. It was indeed a terrible video game, with one important caveat: it allowed you to pick up baby Moses and throw him. Throwing him didn't actually do anything, but of course, that didn't stop you from chucking him into the river. He was a hilarious and completely ineffective video game weapon.
Wherever the Bears go, which is probably not very far, they will have to drag Jay Cutler around with them. Huh? You want to draw up an offense game plan centered around Cutler? Eh. Could be good for a laugh, I guess.
MATT STAFFORD, LIONS:
Gatling gun (Red Dead Redemption, 2010)
Red Dead Redemption, one of the greatest video games of all time, offered tons and tons of incredible moments, few of which were as awesome as Gatling gun missions. Like this Gatling gun, Matt Stafford -- who led the league in pass attempts last season -- has unlimited ammo.
You can't move anywhere when you're using the Gatling gun. Doesn't matter. The Lions have a weak running game and don't move much on the ground. Doesn't matter. Stafford's game, like this 19th-century angel of industrially-meted death, is loud, violent, and effective. Flat-footed murder.
AARON RODGERS, PACKERS:
Stealth bomber (Rise of Nations, PC, 2003)
Rise of Nations was a real-time strategy game that started you as a Stone Age civilization, and you kept on building and researching until eventually, you became a nation with modern-day weapons.
This was amazing, because it allowed for one of the most surreal scenes I've ever seen in a video game. If your opponent was bad enough at the game, you'd have a fully-developed air force before they even figured out how to cast iron swords. So, like, they'd be living in log cabins and figuring out how to grow crops and shit, and all of a sudden? STEALTH BOMBERS. They send out like three assholes in chainmail. SORRY JUNIOR. NOT ENOUGH. POWWWW.
At their best, the Packers are an epoch ahead of most of the NFL, and Aaron Rodgers is their sonar-invisible terror in the sky.
CHRISTIAN PONDER, VIKINGS:
Silver coin (King's Quest V, PC, 1990)
SIR I WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ONE OF YOUR CUSTARD PIES
THESE PIES COST ONE SILVER COIN EACH
I'VE GOT IT RIGHT HERE HERE YOU GO
I HOPE YOU ENJOY YOUR CUSTARD PIE
OH I'M SURE I WILL
The dialogue in King's Quest games is sort of like any conversation about the 2012 Vikings: hopelessly inane and inconsequential. This season, the Vikings will go to the bakery and purchase a delicious custard pie. No football will be played.