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VOL. 42 | NO. 38 | Friday, September 21, 2018

Titans players driven to greatness – by their Maddon ‘19 rating

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If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then one of the biggest compliments that can paid to an NFL player is to see his own likeness in the Madden Football video game.

Many of the Tennessee Titans players grew up as part of a generation of gamers, and they admit that seeing themselves on Madden ’19 – or even in previous incarnations of the EA Sports game – is really a dream come true.

“That was one of the cooler things when you first get in the league is seeing yourself in a video game,” Titans linebacker Will Compton says. “You always created yourself anyway when you were a kid, but to see yourself on it, is actually a pretty special deal.”

Compton says he hasn’t played the Madden game for a couple of years now, but he was an avid – and quite good – Madden player when he was with the Washington Redskins.

“I used to play it all the time,” he recalls. “Back when I did play, I played online and I was in the top 2 percent in the world. It was pretty awesome, man.

“We used to play it all the time on the Redskins – me, Perry Riley, Deangelo Hall – we all had a league, and then we’d play online. We always had a lot of fun playing it, but I haven’t played in a couple of years.”

Being in the Madden game seems to bring a couple of different levels of satisfaction to players who see their likeness on the screen.

One aspect is the rating, with a 99 being a maximum number. Think J.J. Watt from 2014, Peyton Manning in his prime or any number of Hall of Famers who can be used in retro mode.

The rating is a big deal to players, some of whom have been known to publicly complain if their rating is lower than they thought it should be.

Safety Kevin Byard, who was an All-Pro last year with eight interceptions, was pleased to learn that his Madden rating had soared from Year 1 to Year 2.

“It’s pretty solid. I was like 71 (last year), and now I’m like 89, so that’s a pretty big jump,” says Byard.

Byard, who adds he first got into playing his own likeness when he was in college at Middle Tennessee and played the NCAA Football game.

Now, he only plays Madden in single-player mode so he can control himself in the game.

“The first time I saw myself in NCAA (game), I’ve always been fascinated with playing myself,” Byard says. “Instead of playing the entire 11 on 11, I just play myself, and when I get tired of playing myself, I’m just done with the game.

“I just play single-player by myself. I’m getting like 10 picks a year on Madden. Hopefully, it can be realistic.”

Maybe after last week’s win over Houston, Byard can even figure out how to throw a touchdown pass in Madden ‘19 after doing so on a fake punt against the Texans.

The other aspect of Madden that captivates players’ attention is about is their likeness in the video. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson, who admits to not being a huge Madden gamer, does like the way he looks onscreen.

“From what everybody told me, it looked just like me,” he says. “Then I saw it, and I said, ‘Damn, that’s the spittin’ image of me.’ They did a good job.

“So now I need to put my likeness from Madden on (the NBA) 2K, because I play that a lot.”

Byard, on the other hand, has issues with his likeness.

“Actually, I was kind of upset about that,” he says. “I think I got one of the generic faces on there. Adoree’ looks pretty cool, but I’ve got to talk to Madden about that. I got Default No. 8.”

Receiver Taywan Taylor says being in the game is a thrill, but it also has his old high school and college buddies wanting to play against him online.

“Growing up and playing Madden as a kid, I always wondered and imagined what it would be like to be in the game,” he says. “It’s a dream come true, and I’m hyped up every time I play the game.

“I definitely play with us (the Titans). I’m playing with us every time. People always want to play me, and they always want me to get the Titans and see how it is. Some of them like to play me in Madden and like to play against me.”

While being included in the game is certainly a perk for being an NFL player, it does mean more and is more enjoyable for some than others.

For instance, guard Quinton Spain is fine with being included in the game, but being an offensive lineman kind of means toiling in anonymity – even in the video game world.

“It’s all right seeing yourself, but you can’t control yourself (on the line). If you’re not a skill position player, you can’t control yourself, so all you can do is watch yourself,” Spain says.

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