HEY, JOHN MADDEN, if I were you, I'd nail the doors of the Maddencruiser shut. You've got some NFL players who'd like to put your head in a vise until it goes Boom!
This is the week that the new edition of your insanely popular video game, Madden NFL 08, comes out, and the pros are racing their Bentleys to GameStop to snarf up a copy and see how you ranked their skills. Did you make a guy stronger, slower, meaner, or what? It's huge to these players, because so many of them play your game NonStop.
This year you ranked Peyton Manning, LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Urlacher, Champ Bailey and Ed Reed as the top five players in the league—a 99 overall rating out of 100. On the other hand, you ranked linebacker Isaiah Ekejiuba of the Raiders and receiver Mark Jones of the Bucs as the worst players—at 55. Out of 1,722 players in the game, they're at the bottom. I got an advance copy of the ratings, so I called Ekejiuba with the bad news.
"Really?" Ekejiuba asked, sounding like he'd just swallowed a bad clam.
"Yes, really," I said.
"Well, I don't think that's accurate," he said. "No way. I know my skills. I've played against a lot of guys that I'm better than, so that's definitely not accurate."
Jones wasn't exactly tickled to get the news, either. "Well, I don't think that's really fair," complained the wideout, who hasn't caught a pass in his three-year career. "Those people aren't here, seeing you in person, knowing what you can do. They're just going off their assumptions."
But you don't stop at overall ratings of a player, do you, Coach? You rate the best and worst in everything from speed to juke moves to arm accuracy—even of linemen. For what? Throwing their jocks in the hamper?
For instance, you say the two "most aware" players are Manning and Tom Brady (100 for both). Least aware? Courtney Brown, rookie cornerback for the Cowboys (34). Thirty-four? Is he in a coma? I called Brown. He said he wasn't aware of it.
Strongest? Niners guard Larry Allen (100), who can bench 650 pounds and was so happy with the news he was going straight home to tell his 11-year-old son. Weakest regular? Chiefs wideout Samie Parker (36). Allen could bench him.