Legends are what the game is all about. That concept applies to real-world sports and now the virtual world of sports as well. Over the last three years, sports video games have paid homage to the stars of yesteryear. The Madden franchise goes deep into football nostalgia this season.
EA Sports' Madden NFL 25 features a bevy of legends that are unlockable in the game's varied game modes. One of them is the San Francisco 49ers great Ronnie Lott.
If Lott is in the game, you can bet there will be some hard hitting.
Lott played 14 years in the NFL for three teams (Niners, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets), but he is predominantly known for the 10 seasons he spent in San Francisco. He was the eighth overall pick in the 1981 draft out of USC where he made his mark as part of the Trojans' storied football program.
He began his career as a cornerback, but his versatility and high football IQ allowed him to move over to free safety and strong safety.
Lott was voted to the Pro Bowl at each position he played during his career. He was invited to the NFL's version of the All-Star game 10 times from 1981-1991 (only missing in '85).
The Albuquerque, N.M., native was known for his hard-hitting style and soft hands for interceptions in the secondary.
Players like Lott are what the hit stick is made for in Madden.
Lott had several memorable seasons in his career. From a pure statistical standpoint, the 1986 season stands out. He led the NFL with 10 interceptions that year. He took one of those picks back for a touchdown.
Lott also had two sacks and three forced fumbles. What is most impressive about this campaign is that he only played in 14 games. He missed the final two games due to injury.
Perhaps the most impressive season Lott had came in 1991, when he was with the Los Angeles Raiders. After missing 10 games in his last two season with the Niners, Lott moved to L.A., played all 16 games at the age of 32 and again led the NFL in picks with eight.
While the 1986 season had more gaudy stats, Lott's advanced age and change of scenery makes this one stand out.
He had 63 career interceptions and five touchdowns in his career.
Here are his year-by-year career statistics, per Database Football.
Year AGE Team LG GP SK SFY INT YDS LNG TD TOT OWR OPR YDS TD 1981 22 SFO NFL 16 0.0 0 7 117 41t 3 1 0 2 0 0 1982 23 SFO NFL 9 0.0 0 2 95 83t 1 0 0 0 0 0 1983 24 SFO NFL 15 1.0 0 4 22 22 0 0 0 1 0 0 1984 25 SFO NFL 12 1.0 0 4 26 15 0 0 0 0 0 0 1985 26 SFO NFL 16 1.5 0 6 68 25 0 0 0 2 0 0 1986 27 SFO NFL 14 2.0 0 10 134 57t 1 0 0 0 0 0 1987 28 SFO NFL 12 0.0 0 5 62 34 0 0 1 1 33 0 1988 29 SFO NFL 13 0.0 0 5 59 44 0 0 0 4 3 0 1989 30 SFO NFL 11 0.0 0 5 34 28 0 0 0 0 0 0 1990 31 SFO NFL 11 0.0 0 3 26 15 0 0 0 1 3 0 1991 32 LAD NFL 16 1.0 0 8 52 27 0 0 0 1 4 0 1992 33 LAD NFL 16 0.0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1993 34 NYJ NFL 16 1.0 0 3 35 29 0 0 0 2 0 0 1994 35 NYJ NFL 15 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 14 NFL Season Totals 192 8.5 0 63 730 0 5
In Lott's first four seasons he won two Super Bowl rings. He won four in all, and he is one of five players who played on all of the Niners' Super Bowl teams during the 1980s.
During his tenure, the Niners won eight division titles. Lott's presence helped establish the team as the model NFL franchise throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. In his career, he played on only two teams that didn't finish with a winning record.
That is the definition of a winner.
We've heard stories about guys playing through pain, but Ronnie Lott took that concept to another level. Lott had the tip of his pinky finger amputated after it was mangled making a tackle in 1985. Imagine that as a Madden achievement.
If the suggestion I made in the title of this slide is used as an achievement name, I want some type of recognition. Perhaps just a pinky ring with the No. 42 engraved on it would be sufficient.
If this hit took place today, Lott would certainly be fined and possibly even suspended. But when it happened, it was a clean hit. In 2013, Mark Bavaro would have epitomized what is now known as a defenseless receiver.
Nonetheless, Lott lays the lumber on him. Madden 25 announcer Phil Simms accidentally overthrows Bavaro and leaves him vulnerable for Lott to light him up. He definitely flicked the right analog stick with this one.
This video should come with sound effects and overlays from those old Batman television shows with Adam West: Boom. Zap! Kapow!
I can hear Jim Nantz in the game now: "There's a player down, and he's in pain."
If you ever wonder if one hit can change the momentum of a game, look no further than Lott's big hit on the Cincinnati Bengals' Ickey Woods (of Ickey Shuffle fame) in Super Bowl XXIII.
The Bengals had been experiencing success running the ball early against the Niners, but Lott sent a message with a strong hit that would be legal and just as effective today.
There would be no shuffling on this day. The Niners went on to win 20-16.
The hits on Bavaro and Woods were just two in a line of plays that exemplified Lott's presence as an intimidating force on the field.
NFL Films voted Lott the fourth-most feared tackler in history. There have been thousands of men to put on a helmet; to be considered the fourth-best anything in the sport is a pretty big deal.
The hits in this video should almost certainly be good for a 99 hit power rating in the game.
Lott was a part of one of the most star-studded Hall of Fame classes in history in 2000. Joined by long-time teammate and San Francisco 49ers great Joe Montana, Lott took his rightful place among the best who ever played the game.
Here's a look at the entire class, per Pro Football Hall of Fame:
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