(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Relaxation with Madden 2007

Here's how it works.

Get home at night, spend time with the family, read to the kids, help put them to bed, read the mail, check on some e-mails, and then find some time to relax. I've found one good way to do so: play a game of Madden 2007.

Now, I'm not that adroit with the controller, and I'm not that keen on replaying key matchups. Put simply, I want to win, I want to do damage when I'm on defense and score when I'm on offense. So. . .

I take a good NFL team, such as the Colts or Patriots, and I play them at home against the worst team from the European League, the Hamburg Sea Devils (whose QB, Casey Bramlet, is well known to me and would probably end up being the Bionic Man were his team to play a regular schedule in the NFL). I blitz Bramlet on almost every down, especially in nickel situations when I play the extra DB on the weak side (the QB's blind side) and bring him hard. Most usually, that means Bramlet throws about 5 picks a game and ends up with a QB rating of something like 15. (A very good NFL QB is in the 90's).

On offense, I use the run to set up the pass, and then I read the coverages. Once I get a sense of which way the safeties break, I isolate a WR or TE in one-on-one coverage and throw the ball. About 12-13, touchdown passes later, I win routinely by scores of 110-10. Lots of offense, lots of tackles for losses, lots of sacks and interceptions.

I feel for the Sea Devils and for Bramlet, who has parents just like the rest of us. It's just that why play an NFC-title game that could be as stressful as your day was when you can make magical things happen on the gridiron. Work, after all, is all about setting and achieving goals. A good antidote to a frustrating day is getting home, putting on your slippers, and scoring (endless) goals of a different sort.

Even when the days are good and you accomplish some of your goals.

I've also played against the Rhein Fire, Amsterdam Admirals and Cologne Centurions with similar results. As Jim Bouton wrote in "Ball Four" after he was optioned to AAA and complained about the facilities, "The minor leagues are really minor."

Apparently so.

There's one other point I'd like to make, which is the tough job that NFL QB's have, why the good ones are in such rarified air and why their jobs are so hard. They don't have much time (only a few seconds) to make a read, and then, with huge guys coming at them who want to maim them for life, they have to thread a throw through or over guys who want to inflict pain on their teammates at the other end. Sounds simple, huh? Play Madden 2007 and you'll realize how hard it is.

But, if you get good at it like an NFL QB, you'll also realize that if you can isolate a receiver in single coverage, you can complete a pass for a big gain.

I'm not so sure I could do so against the top NFL defense, but NFL Europe fits the bill just fine.


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