Visanthe Shiancoe can’t help himself. He wants competition, needs somebody around to thrash. So a few times a month, the Minnesota Vikings tight end powers up his PlayStation 3. One, two, three seconds later, he picks up his cell and fires off a Tweet that reads something like this gem from mid-May: 11: 15pm ET C.O.D Black ops on PS3. Anyone is welcome to get that butt whooped.. im out
It’s not that the 6' 4, 250-pounder has no friends. He could call a Vikes teammate, give a former buddy or two a ring. But taking on all cyber-comers gives him a real challenge and hooks him up with a world he once forgot. Turns out the man known as “Shank” used to play anything he could get his hands on. And now that he’s blossomed into one of the league’s most reliable tight ends, he spends his offseasons giving his DualShock regular run.
Want to take him on? Add Tha_Shank_U_ as a friend on your PS3. And you might want to prestige a couple of times in in Black Ops while you're at it.
Interview by Ebenezer Samuel
Complex: So you search for opponents on Twitter. Guess somebody never heard of setting up a simple random match.
Visanthe Shiancoe: I could do that, I guess. But I’m playing for the competition, and this gets the juices flowing a bit. Tweeting it out there like that, it gets that competitive edge into it. And it means I can always get some competition. Plus a videogame just isn’t fun if you don’t talk some trash.
What do you game on? PS3 or Xbox 360?
I’m a PS3 guy. Never had the Xbox. But I’m thinking about one now, since I heard about all that network hacking stuff. It makes you think about it. I played the Xbox a bit with my brother, but the controls—I know they’re kind of the same, but the whole feel and everything is really really different.
You’re a pretty hardcore gamer, huh?
Well, I wouldn’t say "hardcore." I was a true gamer when I was little. I had Atari and ColecoVision and all that stuff. But with football I don’t have all that time anymore. So I really follow three games: Call of Duty, Mortal Kombat, and of course Madden.
Why did everything change?
I was probably playing from the time I was like 7 years old. I was a big fan of the Metroid games. I beat them all. But when I started playing football— probably my senior year of high school—I had to cut back. You know, priorities. If I wanted to be good, I had to focus. I didn’t play much for a while.
When did you start back again?
I’d say my rookie year with the Giants [in 2003]. You come in, you hear people talking. You want to get in on it. A wide receiver with the team, Ike Hilliard, he was a big gamer back then. By second year, I was back playing. Like I said, it’s competitive.
Wild guess here: Everyone was into Madden, right?
Yeah, there was some Madden. But we played PSPs a lot on road trips. A lot of us were into SOCOM [U.S. Navy SEALs Fireteam Bravo]. We’d be playing that on the plane, or sometimes in the hotel we’d all get together.
Ever stay up so late you weren’t sharp come gametime?
Oh. No, no, no, never. Football always comes first. Plus we had a curfew, so one of the veterans made sure we never went over. You have to know you’re priorities. It can be dangerous sometimes.
We’ve gotta ask the obligatory football player question now. What’s your take on Madden?
Of my three games, that’s probably the one I’ve played the least. I think I liked it better in the mid-2000s; the last two, three years, it’s almost gotten too complicated. There’s too much stuff. I want it simplified a little bit.
Get this: You’re not the first football player to tell us that. Seems like a lot of NFLers aren’t crazy about EA’s NFL game.
I’ll bet a lot of players think that. As a football player, I’ll say it's realistic for the most part. And it’s better because they don’t have so many kind of superhero players. But they’ve got way more plays than I remember from before. And the Hit Stick and this thing and that thing. Remember, it’s a video game. I wanna learn, I guess, but I don’t have as much time.
From your Twitter habits, it sounds like you’d much rather frag in C.O.D., anyway.
Yeah, Call of Duty is my favorite. The best one was World At War. That’s the one that got me into it. But Black Ops is amazing. The great thing about it is they got it to the point where somebody really did their absolute best to make it as realistic as possible. It’s just so detailed, right down to where you can see paper and little bottles all over. I love it.
How far did you make it in the campaign?
I haven’t even touched that. I’m all multiplayer—like I said, for the competition. But I’m really good. I’m a 50 ranking. So I’m gonna talk some trash.
Your Twitter opponents haven't schooled you yet?
Yeah. There’s this one clan—the Far Clan, I think—when I play them, they give me a run for my money. I think I only beat them like 10% of the time. But I keep coming back. I gotta win. I gotta prevail.
Can any of your Viking teammates hang with you? We’re betting there are a few other gamers in that locker room.
Yeah, there are. A bunch of us will play Call of Duty whenever we can. Me, safety Jamarcus Sanford…who else…Adrian Peterson. We get on there and go. It’s usually during the season, after practice, usually at night. If somebody is on, they’ll send us an invite. We’re into the Team Deathmatch and Domination.
Who’s the best?
Well, we’ll all say we’re the best. Adrian, he’ll say he’s the best. Jamarcus, he’ll say he’s the best. And Jamarcus is gonna talk some trash. But I’ll tell you I’m the best. I have a 50 ranking. That says it right there. I can talk trash.
So when can we test our mettle?
You can try adding me as a friend on PS3, but it’s all filled up. But of course you can try. Just make sure you’re good. If you ain’t even good at it, don’t come on and embarrass yourself. Because I’m serious.