ESPN.com's Mary Buckheit recently sat down with Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young to discuss making the cover of Madden NFL 08:
Vince, what does it mean to be on the cover of Madden?
To have your face on the Madden cover, it means a whole lot. I think about how much we played Madden growing up -- it got to the point we'd have tournaments in the neighborhood, betting against each other, all kinds of stuff. And to be on the cover of it, man, it's just a phenomenal feeling.
Once you got to the NFL and saw yourself in the Madden game, what was that feeling like?
It was great. Growing up, one of my best friends and I used to play Madden 94, 95 until about 12 o'clock at night. Mom would tell us to go to bed, and we'd still be playing. We would act like we went to sleep, and when she'd lay down we'd turn it right back on. You turn the volume down, stay quiet, try not to get too excited or mad at each other. You'd make a big play, and you couldn't get loud because you don't want to wake up Mom because she just told your butt to go to bed!
What's your team in Madden?
I like to go with the Titans, for sure. I like to put the throwback Oilers uniforms on them.
What was your team back in the day?
I used to love the Giants, playing with guys like Lawrence Taylor. I used to love playing with Buffalo and Thurman Thomas. I used to love playing with the Oilers because of Warren Moon, and Ernest Givins, and Frank Wycheck -- all them guys, they had a nice team.
Who are the guys you play against most?
I actually play online a lot. So I play against the world. There are some great guys out there.
When you're playing online, do you tell the world that they are playing against Vince Young?
Nah. (Laughing) I mean, I've got VY10 on there, so they can figure it out if they tried.
How big is Madden within the locker room -- do you guys bust on each other about player ratings?
Oh man, it's ridiculous, ever since college. You're in camp, there's fighting, you're going through that heat -- especially in Austin, Texas, it's about 102 degrees down there. And all you keep hearing is, "I can't wait until the college [game] comes out so I can see what the ratings are!" And in the NFL it's the same thing. I don't really get into it too much, but you sure do hear about it in the locker room. When I look at my player rating, I think, "OK, that's somebody's opinion, that's where they got me." I know what I am. I play like myself, I do my thing, that's what I do.
Does Virtual Vince Young have the dashing good looks of the real Vince Young?
I think they've got to dress me up a little bit better! They've got me kinda big and I throw the ball a little funny, but it's not too bad.
So you want a higher style rating?
Yeah, I look a little better than they've got me, you know!
The past guys that have been on the cover -- like Ray Lewis, Marshall Faulk, Eddie George -- it's an impressive list. Where does this rank on your all-time list of accomplishments?
I rank it pretty high. It's just a chance for someone to, when they see me on the cover or they go online and pull up my history, they'll read my story -- and that's basically what I'm trying to get out into the world. My story is how I made a big spin in life, to be where I am today. A lot of people out there don't believe in God, or don't believe they can make a change, because there's so much going on in their life. I want them to go read up on me and say, "Hey, if this guy can do it and he's carrying himself like this here, and he made it all the way to the Madden cover, I'm pretty sure that I can."
So you're not sweating the Madden cover curse too hard?
Nah. I'm a big fate guy, I don't worry about no jinx. If I get hurt, it was bound to happen. Or if I go through the season, and have a great season, I think that's God's will. So I don't believe in none of that stuff. I just go out there and play the game that I love the most -- football.
Mary Buckheit is a columnist for ESPN.com's Page 2. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.