The first version of ‘John Madden Football’ was released in 1988 on ancient PC platforms called the Commodore 64 and Apple II (who knew?). Gracing the cover was none other than the game’s namesake, NFL Hall of Famer John Madden. The game’s only available mode was single game play, which featured varying quarter lengths, player fatigue, injuries, and penalties.
It’s safe to say the game improved over the last 30 years.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens is the cover athlete of EA Sports’ 2018-19 Hall of Fame Edition of the iconic video game. With each iteration of the game, die-hard gamers, and especially players themselves, dive in to decide if the ratings accurately reflect a player’s real-life skill. Ratings have become particularly crucial for gamers with the introduction of the Madden Ultimate Team; Playstation 4 and Xbox One fans build custom teams to compete against one another in head-to-head play.
The ratings are out for every player on all 32 NFL teams. First-year NFL stars have the best reactions to seeing themselves in the game for the first time:
All-Pro players like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers have their player ratings solidified. Sometimes, Madden’s ratings are real head-scratchers, and will take some time to fully understand. Here are the strangest player ratings to come out of Madden NFL 19:
QB Eli Manning, New York Giants: 76
Here are some of the quarterbacks ranked higher than the two-time Super Bowl MVP: Case Keenum, Baker Mayfield, Tyrod Taylor, Blake Bortles, Sam Bradford, Lamar Jackson, Teddy Bridgewater, Josh McCown, Josh Rosen, Patrick Mahomes, and Jacoby Brissett. Sure, we can all agree on Eli Manning‘s 68-speed rating, but a 76 overall rating is downright disrespectful of a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Manning led the NFL in touchdown passes and Quarterback Rating in 2015. If this one doesn’t change, don’t expect to enjoy playing with the new-look Giants.
WR Mike Evans,Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 89
Let’s face it, the Buccaneers are wasting Mike Evans’ talent with sub-par quarterback play. Since entering the league in 2014, Evans is fifth in the NFL in targets, tenth in catches, sixth in yards, and had two seasons catching 12 touchdowns. Watch Evans play, and it’s easy to see that he is one of the most talented receivers in the game. No disrespect to guys like Stefon Diggs and Doug Baldwin, but they aren’t better than the 6-foot-5 Texas A&M product.
WR Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons: 77
Rookies usually get disrespected in the Madden ratings. That is, until they start logging stats and EA Sports patches the game to correct their mistakes. Ridley’s 77 is baffling, though. Calvin Ridley averaged 15.3 yards per catch in 2017 and caught 19 touchdowns over three seasons in a run-heavy Alabama program. Paired with Julio Jones, Ridley is going to explode in the Falcons’ offense. Don’t expect this 77 to remain at the end of the year.
TE Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins: 94
It’s time we start being honest about tight end Jordan Reed. Yeah, he can play. His 87 catches and 11 touchdowns in 2015 was impressive for only playing 14 games; it earned him a 5-year, $50 million contract. But the Glass-Man is, once again, questionable for the start of training camp with yet ANOTHER injury. If Reed’s skillset is worth a 94, I’d hope Madden sets his Injury rating somewhere in the 30’s. You have to be a complete season player to warrant a rating a like this.
DE Chandler Jones, Arizona Cardinals: 89
Jones led the NFL with 17.0 sacks in 2017. The year prior, he had 11. And in 2015, he was fifth in the league with 12.5. I don’t know what else this man has to do to earn a 90. At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, the former first-round pick is a terror for quarterbacks, but apparently, not enough to warrant being ranked higher than the 18th best defensive lineman in the NFL.
DE Robert Quinn, Miami Dolphins: 81
Quinn is a far removed from the 2013 season in which he logged 19.0 sacks and forced seven fumbles. After a trade to Miami this offseason, though, expect Quinn to continue to build success after injuries shortened his 2015 and 2016 campaigns. He did gobble up 8.5 sacks in 15 games with the Rams last year, and playing opposite Cameron Wake in Miami should help reboot the former 14th overall pick’s dismal rating.
LB Olivier Vernon, New York Giants: 82
I don’t understand Madden for this one. When he became a full-time starter in his second season in 2013, Olivier Vernon tallied 11.5 sacks. Since then, he’s had at least 6.5 sacks in every year, including 8.5 in 2016 when he was named Second Team All-Pro. In 12 games last year, Vernon tallied another 7.0 sacks. He keeps getting better, and should thrive as an outside linebacker in Pat Shurmur’s 3-4 scheme.
CB Vontae Davis, Buffalo Bills: 78
The newest Buffalo Bills cornerback only played in five games in 2017, but he’s definitely not a sub-80 player. The two-time Pro Bowler is has 22 career interceptions and 97 pass deflections over his nine year career. Expect Davis to play a big role for Buffalo in 2018, and be much better than a 78 rating.
All Kickers and Punters
The highest rated punter is LA’s Johnny Hekker and the best kicker is Baltimore’s Justin Tucker: they’re both only an 86!? C’mon Madden, show some love to the special teams guys. With legs like Graham Gano has, you gotta show them some more love than that.