How do you know that a sports video game is the most important sports video game in the history of the gaming genre? Well, I would say that the annual release of the game being a major talking point on talk radio and among players is a pretty good start, and that's where we are with the Madden NFL video game. The main talking point this time of year centers around the release of the quality score of each player on every team, from superstars to rookies, from quarterbacks to long snappers.
And you know who cares more about Madden scores than anybody else? The players themselves, that's who! I've told this story on my radio show many times, but back in 2009, I was doing a radio show with current Texans sideline reporter John Harris, and we were reading the Madden scores of all the Texan players. Well, we got to the wide receivers and when we read David Anderson's score on the air, the hotline immediately lit up. It was Anderson, who was steamed and incredulous over how the programmers of Madden had dissed him with a player score in the mid 60s somewhere. (For you non gamers, the Madden player scores are a lot like the letter grades in a college course — a score in the 90s makes you an A player, 80s a B, and so forth.)
In the ten years since then, with the rise of social media and online gaming, the importance of the Madden scores have exploded, with many players taking great umbrage with their scores each season. Some of them have a point, but some of them just have massive egos. The 2019 scores were released earlier this week, and the Texans' player scores contain some very interesting wrinkles. Here are four of them:
4. DeAndre Hopkins is one of four NFL players with a the Madden maximum score of 99
I spent the entire 2018 season shouting from the rooftops that Hopkins is the best football player on the Houston Texans, which is saying something on a team with a rejuvenated J.J. Watt. Well, the good folks programming the Madden game appear to agree with me, with Hopkins being one of just four players — Rams DT Aaron Donald, Bears OLB Khalil Mack, and Seahawks LB Bobby Wagner are the other three — to score an overall 99 score. Watt didn't do so bad either, notching a 97, coming off of his 16.6 sacks in 2018.
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3. Jadeveon Clowney's 92 isn't too bad either
The third highest score on the Texans belongs to franchise tag holdout OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney, who scored an overall grade of 92. The interesting thing here is that two of the guys Clowney is chasing in the race for a monster long term contract are Donald and Mack, two Madden 99ers. Clowney did manage to come in ahead of Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence (89), 49ers OLB Dee Ford (84), and Chiefs DE Frank Clark (83). Maybe Clowney's agent Bus Cook can send the Texans a copy of Madden and use this as ammo to get Clowney the money that he wants (or at least a better deal than Lawrence, Ford, and Clark).
2. Justin Reid's score is indicative of his importance to this team's future
Say what you will about departed general manager Brian Gaine, but in a few years, we will be looking back and thanking all the football gods that he drafted safety Justin Reid in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Reid is one of the Texans' five biggest assets, and one of the half dozen or so most important players on this team, and his fifth-best-on-the-team score of 84 is reflective of that.
1. WTF, Deshaun Watson with an 82? REALLY?!?
Watson comes in at a mystifying 82, just one point ahead of Cowboys QB Dak Prescott and Vikings QB Kirk Cousins. Somehow, the good folks programming the Madden game found Deshaun Watson to be a lesser quarterback than Jared Goff and Baker Mayfield (both scored an 83). Thankfully, Texan fans, Madden has periodic player score updates to download throughout the year, so Watson should be getting a bump up in his score after a few dominant performances early in the season. Rest easy.