Specs, Lies, and Video Games: Why Some NFL Players Are Mad at Madden

Patrick Cwiklinski@@patcwiklinskiCorrespondent ISeptember 3, 2009

Roy Williams is one angry dude.

Like many football fans, the always-colorful Dallas Cowboy was quick to pick up a copy of the eagerly anticipated Madden 10.

Upon opening the game, to his shock, Williams noticed his speed rating had gone down from the previous year's edition by six points from 92 to 86, forcing the former Pro Bowl wide receiver to speak out about the atrocity.

“I can’t be mad because I didn’t have a good year last year. They go off that year, but geez Louise, 86 speed? That’s like tight-end speed, like I’m a slowpoke.”

At first glance it may appear as though Williams is acting like any another egotistical athlete and simply overselling his abilities as a football player but if you look a little deeper, he might just have a point.

In 2008, Williams did not match the success he had in 2006 or 2007 when he was still a member of the Detroit Lions, however, it's also important to note that after he was acquired by the Cowboys he wasn't 100 percent and had to make big adjustments to a new offense midseason.

If that isn't enough, there's always playing behind Terrell Owens on the depth chart.

It's not an excuse as much as it is a sort of explanation. But where in the midst of all that did his natural speed suddenly drop off? 

And as mad as Williams was, he wasn't the only player in the NFL who went public with how he really felt about his Madden rating. 

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh wasn't at all impressed with his overall rating of 91, feeling that the numbers didn't coincide with his play and in turn he decided to give up playing Madden altogether.

At least until the folks over at EA bump his virtual counterpart up to at least a 130 overall.

“I understand I averaged 10 yards a catch, but it’s the offense, not me. I’m not playing Madden no more until they get my rating right. I used to be the best in the world at Madden. I’m going to miss not playing it, but until they do me right, I’m not playing it any more.”

Now that's more of what we're used to, a football player who's full of himself and isn't afraid to come off as vain. And while Williams may actually present a valid argument as to why his speed should not have been tampered with, Houshmandzadeh and his 91 rating do not.

As the sixth best NFC wide receiver in the video game, Houshmandzadeh is behind five players all of whom in real life are, bluntly put, better than him: Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, Anquan Boldin, Roddy White, and Calvin Johnson.

Quite honestly, Houshmandzadeh is even lucky to have a rating of 91 after coming off his worst season statistically since 2002 with 902 yards and four touchdowns, a mere third of the touchdowns he amassed the season before.

Come on T.J., 91 overall can't be that bad, just ask Washington Redskins long snapper Ethan Albright.

Albright had the lowest overall rating of all NFL players in Madden '07 at 53 out of a possible 99 and he quickly became the subject of Internet parody in a mock e-mail addressed to John Madden written by Juan Turlington for a satirical sports website called the Phat Tree.

To rub more salt in the wound, long snapping isn't even a rated skill in Madden.

"Some guys are into it. I'm not. Doesn't register with me at all. Rate me whatever, I don't care."

Who knows where Albright's care-free attitude regarding the matter came from, did he sincerely not care about his Madden rating or was he so embarrassed about his rating that it seemed like the only smart thing to say to avoid even more embarrassment?

Does it even matter?

The point is, players really shouldn't take these sort of petty things to heart because at the end of the day, no matter how popular Madden is and how big your ego is, it's only a video game.

Not reality.

It's easy to see how some, as well as which, players would take issue with Madden ratings as though their larger-than-life personalities propel them to succeed in every aspect of football, even virtual.

That's why nobody, apart from Emmitt Smith, complains when they're too good in the game.

On the flip side, it also has to be an extremely strenuous task for EA Sports to accurately rate every single player included in their game year in and year out flawlessly.

There are going to be mistakes and slip-ups and that's when players should realize that the conclusion a video game draws about them isn't an exact science at all. 

And who said football players weren't insecure?