A.J. Smith, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Dick Night Train Lane, EA Sports, Green Packers, Greg Jennings, Jack del Rio, JerMichael Finley, Joe Schmidt, Madden Football, Michael Vick, NFL, Paul Allen, Richard Seymour, Roger Goodell, Washington Redskins
Like my most men my age, I consistently endanger my marriage by obsessing over Madden football on my PS3. Every July, most of the men I know spend extra time with the women in their lives, taking them out to dinner, movies, going to see her family, whatever. They do it because in August, they will disappear to a room in the house, where they will barely eat, move, or change clothes for at least a month.
Madden comes out in August.
Madden might be our last chance to see real football. The NFL has gotten insane, a combination of lawyers and billionaires (the overwhelming majority of whom have never played a down of football) that are determined to take apart the game in the stupidest way possible.
Recently, as a concern for player’s safety, the NFL voted to keep running backs from putting their helmet on defenders (while constantly showing highlights of running backs doing just that) that are trying to obliterate them but haven’t passed any determination on cut blocking that consistently destroys knees every year.
Between this and the usual things that your team does that drive you nuts (Hey Packer fans! You just lost Greg Jennings to Seattle for nearly $9 million a year. Instead you paid your TE Jermichael Finley $8.25 million a year… and he can’t catch.) you need Madden. Its real football that you can control.
When my beloved Broncos lost in the playoffs (because Jack del Rio’s entire defense was predicated on ancient cornerback Champ Bailey shutting down the man on his side, and when Torrey Smith started burning him, we had NO backup plan.) I calmly turned off the television and played Madden.
The problem is… its a love/hate relationship.
EA Sports has an exclusive relationship with the NFL, because a bunch of conservative billionaires run the most socialist organization you can imagine. (1. The NFL is a monopoly that the government allows. 2. They use public funds for their stadiums, even though every owner can easily pay for them. 3. They have exclusive licenses that stifle competition.) So every year, Madden NFL doesn’t have to worry about any competition.
Madden football has been around for 25 years, but it never seems to turn out a finished product. The newest version looks photo real to people that aren’t familiar with video games… until the camera pans to the sideline where the sprites (the digital versions of people) look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow man. Because they didn’t finish the game before they put it out.
It happens every year. One year they boast about the improved offensive line blocking, but when you actually play the game you realize that the pulling guard misses every block on every outside run. After the tenth time Ray Lewis crumpled my running back into a pile roughly the size of a milk carton, I started to experience the first signs of stroke.
The next year, they changed the motion and the speed of the game… but not the acceleration, which meant that Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson got the same running start as a drunken man with two broken legs.
I don’t know any business that is allowed to put out the same product EVERY year, charge top dollar for it, but never actually finish anything.
Madden Football works the same way as Catholic heaven. Once you’re good, you’re good for the rest of your career, which is why every time I play the Raiders, Richard Seymour (who has 57.5 sacks in 11 years) gets three sacks a game, beats triple teams every down, and either bats down or intercepts (!) every pass in his direction.
In fact, one year’s update was basically to correct how they had rendered Michael Vick, who was able to run backwards to his right 30 yards in one nanosecond and then throw accurately across his body to the left 70 yards down the field.
Things like this lead to Madden rage, which is the third highest killer of Black Males. (The highest killer of Black Males, of course, are other Black Males.)
Madden football also has this thing where they come out with an innovation and then it disappears like Crystal Pepsi. One year, you could write your own plays, a Godsend for people like me. Then it was gone.
One year, you could create multiple characters and assign them to a team. For a football geek like me, it was a dream. I looked up Hall of Famers, or really good players, created a profile and added them to their team. Every week on my schedule was a throwdown. (For instance… Detroit Lions. Add Dick “Night Train” Lane and Lem Barney at corner, Barry Sanders and John Henry Johnson as running backs, and Joe Schmidt at middle linebacker, and then try to play them. Add maybe Robert Porcher on the end, Herman Moore across from MegaTron and a healthy Chris Spielman. Your nickelback is Dick LeBeau. Even if you win, you’re limping out of this one.)
Of course, I haven’t even had the option to do this in years.
Even so, every year I live in hope that this flawed version of Madden will take away the pain of losing the game I love. (Oh look! The Redskins signed A.J. Smith, the guy who single-handedly ran the Chargers into the ground after John Butler died! Go Skins!) One day it will be worth it.