The Day After Maddenoliday...

Hope your Maddenoliday was bright.

The call came from my brother Wednesday morning as expected: "Dude, what the hell are you doing at work?"

"I was off yesterday."

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"You don't take the day before Maddenoliday, off, you moron. You take Maddenoliday off."

I'm guessing many conversations such as this went down yesterday between slacker and worker types. The geniuses at game house EA Sports have tapped into a pop culture phenomenon: So desperately do gamers await the annual update of Madden NFL , that they take the day off after buying the game at a midnight opening day sale.

Hell, I've done it before. And I can say from experience, peeling away the plastic, popping open the box and removing the disc feels like tearing away wrapping paper on Christmas morning. The EA folks get that feeling, and thus have dedicated a "Maddenoliday" site to it.

My brother reports that the best part of the game by far is Superstar Mode. In it, you can be any kind of young player — quarterback, safety, offensive lineman. Simply choose what kind of parents you want (seriously -- my brother picked a dad who was a Hall of Fame offensive tackle) and you're off on your quest for a simulated NFL career -- with your computer-simmed parents guiding you. You can participate in individual workouts (trench fight, 40-yard dash). Then it's on to training camp. In Superstar Mode, you control your player — that's it, no one else. If you're the QB, you toss passes or hand off. If you're the wide receiver, you run your routes. And if you're an offensive lineman, you block. Play well enough, you'll end up in the Hall of Fame, with a ceremony at Canton and everything.

Trust me, all this is serious shit to gamers. I can only imagine how many attached dudes are sleeping on the couch this week, dedicating more time to this hallowed vidya' game than to pleasing their better half.

I've only had a chance to skim the game, but I plan on getting down and dirty soon (and probably being kicked to the couch). After all, it's almost NFL regular season time, and thus, time for my annual Houston Texans season prediction, based on my simulated season on Madden. And man, I'm feelin' it this year. -- Steven Devadanam

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