With most sports around the world on hiatus because of the coronavirus, a group of current and former NFL players got together through the magic of online communication to take part in the first-ever Madden Invitational to raise awareness for the CDC Foundation's COVID-19 relief efforts.
Michael Vick (Baltimore Ravens) and Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James (Seattle Seahawks) met in the championship game, though it wasn't much of a contest. The Seahawks picked apart the Ravens by a final score of 80-16.
No, that score isn't a misprint.
James landed the first of what turned out to be many haymakers with an interception, followed by Tyler Lockett's long touchdown run on a catch from Russell Wilson to go up 7-0. He extended the lead to 21-0 at the end of the first on a Chris Carson touchdown run and an 81-yard punt return from Lockett.
Vick was able to eat into the deficit with nine straight points late in the second quarter, including a touchdown pass by Lamar Jackson on 4th-and-goal.
Facing heat for the first time in the game, James immediately responded with a 75-yard touchdown from Lockett. His defense stepped up by getting the ball back on the Ravens' next play from scrimmage, with Marquise Blair returning an interception for a score.
James and the Seahawks went into halftime with a 38-9 lead.
The tournament featured Vick, James, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ahman Green, Matt Leinart, Orlando Scandrick and T.J. Houshmandzadeh competing in a bracket-style tournament.
The quarterfinals and semifinals were filmed prior to Sunday's live event. Smith-Schuster received an automatic bye into the semis because his scheduled opponent, Antonio Cromartie, was unable to compete.
Houshmandzadeh, who was playing with the San Francisco 49ers, advanced to the semifinals with a 17-7 win over Scandrick's Dallas Cowboys. Vick rode the Ravens to an ugly 7-6 victory over Leinart and the New Orleans Saints.
James was the star of the first two rounds. He used the Seahawks to beat Green and then picked apart Houshmandzadeh in the semifinals with a 35-14 victory.
Despite the difficult ending to his tournament run, Houshmandzadeh had the best reaction shot of the tournament on this 109-yard interception return for a touchdown:
Vick found his stride in the semifinals, knocking off Smith-Schuster and the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-0 to set up the title match. The four-time Pro Bowler had more interceptions (seven) in his first two games than points allowed (six).
The first two rounds seemed to suggest an epic finale between two elite gamers, but it wasn't meant to be, with James taking complete control of things right out of the gate.
More important than the winner, though, is the good deed done by all involved as the world continues to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.