Each year, 1UP gets mobbed when we showcase Madden's player ratings. That shouldn't surprise us; once we got our hands on the attributes file this year, we stared at the Excel spreadsheet for an hour without blinking. But instead of simply throwing up the epically sized file (which we'll do as well), we offer up a breakdown of some standouts. Down, set, stare.
Bears return man Devin Hester shocked the Madden world last year -- or feebly shook the ratings system, at least -- when he became the first-ever player to snag a 100 speed rating. He returns this season just as quick, but among a sparse 100-fied supporting cast, including Patriots WR Randy Moss (jumping), Saints RB Reggie Bush (agility), Browns WR Braylon Edwards (spectacular catch), Pats QB Tom Brady and Colts QB Peyton Manning (awareness), Raiders K Sebastian Janikowski (kick power), and Jets T Wayne Hunter (morale).
99 Reasons ...
As noted above, Madden's makers are notoriously stingy with 100 ratings in any category, and outside of legendary players (we're talking Walter Payton and John Elway), no one's snaring a 100 overall anytime soon. Still, there are always a handful of 99s every season. This year, six make the grade, covering only three teams, including Patriots tandem Tom Brady (QB) and Randy Moss (WR), Colts QB Peyton Manning and SS Bob Sanders, and Chargers dynamic duo LaDainian Tomlinson (RB) and Antonio Gates (TE).
Cover Snub Continues
It was bad enough that should-be Madden 09 cover athlete Adrian Peterson got bumped by a retiree in Brett Favre, but the second slap in the face came when the Vikings RB got smeared in the ratings. Yeah, we know a 95 overall's fantastic, but he's below Eagles RB Brian Westbrook (97) and Rams halfback Steven Jackson (97). No way.
A load of rookies scored "weapons" in Madden 09, but instead of listing them all (we'll count Steelers third-string field general Dennis Dixon's Speed QB weapon as irrelevant), we offer up some highlights for the freshmen that'll make the biggest impact in the first year of your franchise: Darren McFadden (Raiders RB, 85 overall, Stiff Arm, Elusive Back, Speed), Joe Flacco (Ravens QB, 79 overall, Cannon Arm QB), Vernon Gholston (Jets DE, 82 overall, Big Hitter), and Felix Jones (Cowboys RB, 80 overall, Elusive Back, Speed).
Need for Speed
What do Bears return savant Devin Hester, Lions WR Calvin Johnson, Dolphins WR Ted Ginn Jr., Saints RB Reggie Bush, and Chargers CB Antonio Cromartie all have in common? They all share the Speed weapon (96-plus on speed), along with 54 other players -- the most prevalent weapon by far. The runner-up is Big Hitter (88-plus on Hit Power) for defenders like 49ers LB Patrick Willis and Cowboys safety Roy Williams.
While Rams LB David Vobora scored the Mr. Irrelevant award in real life (he was the final selection in the 2008 NFL Draft), Madden 09's weakest link is Demetrius Bell. The 219th pick overall scored a 54 overall, six points lower than the next-lowest-rated player. On the upside, the Bills OT's morale is a whopping 95. At least he's in good spirits!
While there'll be plenty of debate on who gets ranked second through fifth at each position, it's tough to argue who's slotted at the top. Here's the list of who ranks No. 1 at every position:
QB: Tom Brady (Patriots, 99)
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers, 99)
FB: Lawrence Vickers (Browns, 92)
WR: Randy Moss (Patriots, 99) and Terrell Owens (Cowboys, 98)
TE: Antonio Gates (Chargers, 99)
C: Jeff Saturday (Colts, 96)
T: Jason Peters (Bills, 97) and Mark Tauscher (Packers, 94)
G: Steve Hutchinson (Vikings, 98) and Leonard Davis (Cowboys, 97)
K: Matt Stover (Ravens, 95)
DT: Albert Haynesworth (Titans, 98) and Pat Williams (Vikings, 98)
DE: Aaron Kampman (Packers, 98) and Jason Taylor (Dolphins, 98)
MLB: Brian Urlacher (Bears, 98)
OLB: Derrick Johnson (Chiefs, 93) and DeMarcus Ware (Cowboys, 98)
CB: Champ Bailey (Broncos, 97) and Asante Samuel (Eagles, 96)
SS: Bob Sanders (Colts, 99)
FS: Ed Reed (Ravens, 98)
P: Shane Lechler (Raiders, 97)