Why are Madden ratings so important to NFL players?

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Who is the most unstoppable video game force of all time? Is it Madden 04 Michael Vick or Techmo Bowl Bo Jackson? This age old debate has plagued mankind for centuries, well maybe not that long. In the dog days of summer one of the most exciting yet agonizing times for NFL players are the release of the newest Madden ratings.

Fans enjoy the fact that they are playing a virtual version of a sport they love. And athletes love the fact they get to play an animated version of themselves for bragging rights of being the best. The ultimate praise in Madden is that superstar 99 rating and in the newest version of Madden 21 their are a total of five players who wear that 99 overall honor.

Patrick Mahomes QB
Aaron Donald DE
Stephon Gilmore CB
Christian McCaffrey RB
Michael Thomas WR

 

However, for the other’s who aren’t so lucky to wear that 99 overall title other players have to fight for those scraps of respect to be labeled as one of the best and boy do NFL players take that rating personal.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray recently took offense to his speed qualities in “Madden 21”, where he was assigned an “underwhelming” for himself 91 rating. Ravens star Lamar Jackson was the best in that category, well above Murray with a 96.

“Na,” Murray tweeted.

Na, indeed.

Meanwhile, Murray fought for the quarterback rating assigned to Packers star Aaron Rodgers (89 overall), who ranked sixth among his profession, behind  Tom Brady. Murray did what all athletes do when they are unhappy and took to Twitter Murray tweeted “So disrespectful to AR.”

Murray’s disdain of his individual Madden rating is nothing new. One of the most classic ESPN segments of all time featured than Seahawks wide receiver TJ Housmanzadeh tearing the EA Sports team a new one over his own rating. He was pissed that he had a 91 rating with low speed and catch ability. He was one of the first players that threatened to boycott the game for how low he felt his rating was.

For this segment to be over 10 years old and players year in and year out still complain about how they are viewed in a video game. Begs the question why do NFL players take ratings so personally? And do these ratings even have validity? I personally trace it back to the early beginnings. Madden  is the brainchild of Electronic Arts which is the second-largest video gaming company in the world. Madden has been one of the brands most popular games since 1988. It has been estimated by many video gaming sites that over 10 million people around the world play the gaming franchise. Since so many eyeballs are fixated on this one game a year the way certain players are viewed matters!

EA Sports has really adjusted the way they judge players ratings. The biggest factor for a lot madden ratings is stat-based. Madden adjusters have said they have used advanced metric sites like Pro Football Focus and  Football Outsiders, those types of things bring out the snap-by-snap look on a player. Also starting around March, the EA Sports team begins sketching out the ratings for projected draftees using a series of templates for each position.

Much like NFL scouts Madden uses measurables from the scouting combine and pro days. The ratings adjuster establishes a player’s ratings in categories such as speed and strength, which are almost directly tied to the drills performed by prospects in advance of the NFL draft. For instance, a 4.50-second time in the 40-yard dash will usually earn a prospect a speed rating of 89. Speed  is the one aspect that players take the most personal as Kyler Murray showed.

A term that really has taken on a life of its own if you play Madden is “Madden Ratings Adjuster” when I first heard that term. I asked myself what the hell is a Madden Ratings Adjuster? It wasn’t until Madden 2019 that the role of a Madden Ratings Adjuster really took off. NFL players would constantly challenge their rating. One day Leonard Fournette took to twitter to protest his porous rating challenging EA Sports scouts to come to training camp to see how fast he really was.

Madden Ratings Adjuster’s are now at every game and training camp and if a player makes a spectacular one handed catch that catch rating goes up. If a player breaks for a long run without getting caught “you guessed it” that speed goes up. It also can have a negative affect if a player drops x amount of passes or a LT gives up x amount of sacks “you guessed it” that rating goes down.  So in a really weird way a video game may have a huge affect on how our favorite players perform. When a player performs at a high level he wants to be rewarded with a high rating. If a player stinks well…… So yes Madden ratings do matter that competitive nature runs thick even in video games.

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