The Scouting Report

How cinematic sports stars stack up to their real-world equivalents

A dog that can catch a football. An ice-skating chimpanzee with a wicked slapshot. Angels in the outfield. Astounding feats of sport are common in the movies, where the laws of nature and physics rarely apply, but are these super-athletes really so much better than the rest of us? The Onion A.V. Club finds out by comparing gifted cinematic competitors with their mortal counterparts and deciding who (or what) to select on draft day.

Morten Anderson vs. Gus, The Field-Goal-Kicking Mule (Gus)

Scouting Report: Anderson

• With 23 years of NFL experience (and counting), arguably the most reliable old scorer in the game.

• Has kicked more than 500 field goals in his career, including a 60-yarder at the Superdome in New Orleans.

• The only man in NFL history to score 100 points or more in each of 12 seasons.

Scouting Report: Gus

• The California Atoms' mascot can boot field goals from 100 yards out, and doesn't need a dome to do it.

• Gus' backward kicking style may present problems if the Atoms are lined up on the right or left hash marks.

• There's nothing in the rulebooks that says a mule can't play football.

Draft choice: Depends on the team. An anemic offense like the Dallas Cowboys' could use Gus to capitalize on "three and out" situations. Small-market franchises could also afford his services and stay well under the salary cap. League powerhouses, however, may want a more reliable, less wacky place-kicker like Anderson.

Kerry Wood vs. Henry Rowengartner (Rookie Of The Year)

Scouting Report: Wood

• Routinely throws a fastball between 95 and 99 mph, with sharp downward motion.

• Has a career average of 10 strikeouts a game, and when he's healthy, keeps the Chicago Cubs at or near the top of the division.

• Actual Rookie Of The Year, in 1998.

Scouting Report: Rowengartner

• Little League flop Rowengartner (played by Thomas Ian Nicholas) breaks his shoulder, and it heals in such a way that he throws at 100 mph.

• Signed by the hapless Chicago Cubs, Rowengartner becomes a star reliever and leads the team into the thick of a pennant race.

• Presumably goes on to be named Rookie Of The Year.

Draft choice: Wood. Both contenders have chronic arm problems and a tendency toward wildness, though Wood doesn't have to deal with the pressures of junior high, jealous friends, and the business demands of his mom's sleazy boyfriend. Rowengartner's boyishness is infectious• rarely do Wood and Mark Prior cut it up on the bench the way Rowengartner does with his mentor, played by Gary Busey• but Wood has an intimidation factor that the gawky Rowengartner can't match. Bench the kid, play the ace.

Kobe Bryant vs. Teen Wolf (Teen Wolf)

Scouting Report: Bryant

• At the time the youngest player ever to appear in an NBA game, and the youngest named to an NBA All-Star team.

• Owner of three championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers.

• Averaged 24 points per game in the 2003-2004 season.

Scouting Report: Teen Wolf

• High-school-hoops also-ran Scott Howard (played by Michael J. Fox) gains supernatural leaping and shooting ability when his genetic predisposition to lycanthropy manifests itself.

• Once his eyes get red and his palms get hairy, Howard leads his Beacontown High School Beavers to the regional championship.

• Dominates the game on both sides of the floor, so long as he lets his hormones rage.

Draft choice: Teen Wolf. Both players hog the ball, and self-control appears to be a problem for both. Teen Wolf has superior skills, though, and can win without a Frankenstein-like big man in the low post. Aw-ooooo!

Todd Bertuzzi vs. The Hanson Brothers (Slap Shot)

Scouting Report: Bertuzzi

• Among the league leaders in assists in his seventh season as the Vancouver Canucks' right wing.

• Finished the 2002-2003 regular season, Vancouver's best ever, with 46 goals.

• On March 8, sucker-punched and fell on Avalanche forward Steve Moore, who ended up with three fractured vertebrae; now faces criminal-assault charges in British Columbia.

Scouting Report: The Hanson Brothers (Slap Shot)

• Collectively, the Hanson Brothers (played by Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson, and Dave Hanson) are the key to the Charlestown Chiefs' 1977 strategy: all fighting, no hockey.

• Violence not limited to other players; they attack the bench, the officials, fans in the bleachers, and the rink organist.

• Player/coach Paul Newman defends them to the police: "Most folk heroes started out as criminals."

Draft choice: The Hanson Brothers. Large-market teams with discerning fans (those who enjoy skating and scoring) should choose Bertuzzi, who's a scorer first and a tough guy second. But with the NHL looking to expand in the Southern U.S., where stock-car crashes still rank as top-flight entertainment, prospective sunbelt owners should snap up the Hansons for their high-sticking, gloves-off, screw-the-scoreboard style.

Michael Jordan vs. Space Jam Michael Jordan (Space Jam)

Scouting Report: Jordan

• A five-time MVP, Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to six NBA championships, was selected a first-team All-Star 12 times, and holds the record for career points per game.

• Brought together a quirky and seemingly dysfunctional cast of characters, including Dennis Rodman, into a cohesive unit.

• His sterling smile and nice-guy image revolutionized the game's commercial potential, leading to a lucrative endorsement deal with Nike and a starring role in the anemic Looney Tunes comedy Space Jam.

Scouting Report: Space Jam Jordan

• Looks remarkably similar to the real-world Jordan, only more wooden.

• Brings together a quirky and seemingly dysfunctional cast of characters, including representations of Bugs Bunny, the Tazmanian Devil, Tweety Bird, and Bill Murray, into a cohesive unit.

• A quick first step enables him to juke past lumbering 10-foot alien monsters powered by the stolen talents of NBA stars Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Muggsy Bogues, Larry Johnson, and Shawn Bradley.

Draft choice: Real-world Jordan. The Bulls couldn't win championships without him in the lineup, but the Looney Tunes would probably have found a way to pull off that miracle second-half comeback on their own. Also, no team that hastily assembled could master the Bulls' triangle offense.

Jeff Gordon vs. Herbie, The Love Bug (The Love Bug)

Scouting Report: Gordon

• First driver to be named Rookie Of The Year in both the Busch Series (1991) and Winston Cup Series (1993).

• Earned more Winston Cup victories than any other driver for five consecutive years (1995-1999), the only driver in NASCAR history to do so.

• Has career winnings of more than $60 million.

Scouting Report: Herbie

• Though unassuming in design, Herbie and his succession of drivers have won races in exotic locales ranging from San Francisco to Monte Carlo.

• As a sentient car, Herbie can disassemble and reassemble itself at will in order to avoid obstacles placed in the road by rivals.

• Torments wealthy industrialists, often "leaking" on their shoes.

Draft choice: Volkswagen Beetles aren't "stock" enough to compete officially in NASCAR events, but in a street race— without restrictor plates— Herbie would dust any car Gordon drove. Exercise caution, though: Herbie is a hippie at heart, and might be inclined to ditch the race and roam the streets, spreading a message of peace.

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