If you watch the NFL and play Madden every year as the season progresses, you might use the game as a barometer for real-life player performance. There are over 1,600 athletes playing in the NFL during the regular season, but due to increased roster limits during the offseason – when coaches are testing players to compile their final roster – there could be over 1,100 more players to account for on the field and in the game. Someone has to create and manage the skill ratings for these players in the series every year, and that someone is EA Tiburon’s Donny Moore, known at the developer as the Madden team’s “Ratings Czar.” Moore knows firsthand that some athletes are simply better than others, and they prove it as the NFL season progresses.
Take Victor Cruz, for example. He started Madden NFL 12 with an overall player rating in the 60′s out of a possible 99, among the worst players in the game. Like other NFL player hopefuls, the New York Giants receiver was an afterthought, since he wasn’t selected among the 255 athletes chosen in the seven-round NFL Draft. The odds of an undrafted free agent, and even the occasional players drafted in a lower round in some cases, making a team’s final 53-man roster is fairly low, and the perceived talent level of those players, compared to their drafted peers, are even lower.
Cruz made the cut, and eventually wowed fans and fantasy football owners throughout the 2011 season. In his debut season’s third week, Cruz caught three passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns against the Philadelphia Eagles. In that week’s Madden 12 roster update, his overall rating – the out-of-99 score given to players based on performance – jumped from 64 to 72. By season’s end the Giants were Super Bowl champions and Cruz’s overall Madden 12 rating leapt to 88, thanks to an astonishing 1,536 yard, nine-touchdown season. As Cruz impressed fans, Moore increased his Madden rating, which meant his virtual counterpart’s abilities improved as well.
Gallery: Madden NFL 25 (Connected Franchise)