Madden and a Red Snapper

by Ryan

It’s been about a week since Madden 09 came out, and to some that means they haven’t been outside very much in the last few days. Every year around this time a buzz starts because of a video game named after a bumbling, sometimes incoherent former Raiders head coach, and every year this blows my mind. Well, at least it used to.

Back in the day, there were plenty of football video games to choose from. Sega had a game, the NFL Quarterback Club had a game, and the Blitz series was there if you felt like setting yourself on fire. All in all, it was a good time to be a football fan. Even if you didn’t like Madden or Blitz, you could play NFL 2K on your Dreamcast and be satisfied with yourself.

Now things are different. EA Sports has an exclusive contract with the league and the NFLPA, and there is only one football video game that matters: Madden. With this has come Maddenoliday, TV shows, and a white boy slapping his own nipples in a Bills jersey. Yeah, we’ve come a long way.

These days video games creep closer and closer to the mainstream, and as they do we look at our sports a different way. People always complain their favorite team doesn’t get a good ranking in Madden. Every year we all sit around and dissect the IGN Player Rankings for NHL 09 like a tarot card. Heck, even Mirtle got into the act, if only to kill some time in this hell-hole of a hockey month.

When you think about it, you really can base a lot of your sports knowledge off of video games. I remember people scoffing about the fact that Dan Paille was ranked higher than Drew Stafford in last year’s NHL 08, but look at what we know now. A friend of mine joked around about that at a Sabres game last year, and a group of people below us could only nod in agreement.

That same group later started talking about Cristobol Huet, debating how his name should be pronounced after his trade to the Capitals. One argued that his name should be pronounced “Hu-eh” because that’s how it always was done in Montreal, and another argued it should be “Hu-et” because that’s how it is in NHL 09. That was his only justification, that’s how the dude says it in the video game, it must be right.

The above is only a small fraction of what you could conceivably take from video games, and we haven’t even gone into the minor leagues. However, video game knowledge is of course not infallible. In fact, one of the quirky video game facts blew up in EA Sports’ face last year.

With every player ranked, that means that someone is listed as the “worst” player in the league. Last year, that was Redskins long snapper Ethan Albright.

Not only did he get stuck with the Madden boobie prize, he also had the misfortune of getting a picture like that taken of him. However, last year he went out and made the Pro Bowl.

So what does this mean? Well, I guess that depends on how much you care about “Red Snapper” and the evaluations video game designers give players, teams, and franchises. Everything really is up for interpretation, and I suppose people who attempt to simulate reality are as good a candidate as any to make these decisions.

The question is this: how much value do you put in these rankings? Everyone has their own opinion of a team, player, or coach; but how much clout does a player’s ranking have for you? The larger question is whether or not you play Madden at all, if you feel like telling us. I personally have never bought Madden, but I admit I’m curious to see where my team falls in the overall ranks.

It may be a load of garbage, but at the very least it’s educated garbage, right?