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The Best Players In Madden History

Madden 13 release
EA Sports

In case you’ve been living under a rock over the last few weeks, or just aren’t much of a gamer, you know that Madden NFL 13 came out at midnight. Every year when the game comes out, I get all nostalgic and think back to past editions of the games and all of the nights I’ve spent choosing to play one last game online over my homework, my friends, or any other rational actions.

Of course, thinking back to previous editions of the games brings me to the players in those games and who really made my playing experience from that season memorable. Imagine if they could all play on the field at once? How great would that team be?

Unfortunately, I can’t make that happen in Madden 13. What I can do is compile a team of the best players in Madden history, based entirely on my experiences playing the game since the year 2000, when I was a wee 10 year old and could start coherently understanding the game. Here we go:

QB: Donovan McNabb (Madden 2007)

I know, everyone is going to say that Michael Vick during his Falcons days is the clear choice for the quarterback spot. For some people that is true. I, however, struggled mightily with Vick because he was left handed and therefore struggled throwing when rolling to his right, my signature move. McNabb had 79 speed, which was fast enough to run when needed, had a strong arm to hit Donte Stallworth (crazy fast) on deep balls, and wasn’t left handed.

RB: Reggie Bush (Madden 07)

Bush was the total package in his early Madden days. He was fast enough to break away in any footrace, and was able to break multiple tackles in a single run thanks to the new-at-the-time highlight stick. The best part of having  Bush was the ability to throw to him both in the flat and on wheel routes, which matched him up on a streak down the sideline against a linebacker in man coverage. Also, since this was a video game, he wasn’t injured as often as he was in real life.

FB: Mike Alstott (Madden 2000)

Mike Alstott made the fullback dive fun. You would just give him the ball, go up the middle, and watch as defenders were forced to lay in his wake. An honorable mention goes to Brandon Jacobs, who I shifted to fullback a number of times during his tenure with the Giants to provide a dual threat between Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

TE: Jeremy Shockey (Madden 2006)

Shockey was hurt all the time in real life, but was amazing in Madden, particularly in 2006. This was all because of the invention of the truck stick, which elevated him to nearly unstoppable status. He was a matchup nightmare for linebackers, especially over the middle where he was able to gain separation on post routes and truck his way through the secondary.

WR: Randy Moss (Madden 08) and Brian Finneran (Madden 04)

Madden 08 was the year in which the game was featured primarily on the Xbox 360, and one of the new features unveiled that year were player skill icons that accentuated each player’s abilities. One such icon was the spectacular catch icon, that allowed certain wide receivers to make ridiculous one handed catches and outleap their defenders for jump balls at will. Randy Moss’ imposing frame was perfect for the innovation, and being one of the fastest wide receivers in the game didn’t hurt either.

Finneran was a textbook case of players using a guy who hadn’t seen much NFL success due to his attributes in specific areas. With a ton of height, a huge jump rating and some speed to go with it, Finneran was perfect for a move that players call the rocket catch, where they throw the ball behind the receiver, giving him time to turn around and box out the defender to win a jump ball.

D-Line: Jevon Kearse (Madden 07), Dwight Freeney (Madden 08), Albert Haynesworth (Madden 08)

Kearse, known as The Freak, was just that in Madden 07. His speed around the outside neutralized mobile quarterbacks while making life hell for immobile ones. He also had decent hands for a d-lineman, picking off a few passes for me back in the day.

Freeney was another product of the new player icons, with an icon tailored specifically to his trademark spin move. He was able to get around blockers with the greatest of ease, strip the ball, and get it back to the offense like it was his job. Actually, it totally is his job. Nevermind.

The same icon principle applied to Haynesworth, who earned one for his bull rushing abilities from the defensive tackle spot. He was perfect for 08 when a glitch in the game was discovered on the 360 called the nano blitz, in which players would be able to shoot three linemen up the middle and sack the quarterback almost automatically.

LBs: Ray Lewis (Madden 05), Patrick Willis (Madden 12), Shawne Merriman (Madden 08), Brian Urlacher (Madden 08)

Lewis was the face of the hit stick, and my goodness did he pack a punch with it. Willis was built to be the same way, as a hard hitting rock at the middle linebacker spot. Merriman was a flawless edge rusher, which helped to neutralize the more mobile QBs, and Urlacher was the most versatile of them all, able to play anywhere for force turnovers in a number of ways.

DBs: Champ Bailey (Madden 07), Brian Dawkins (Madden 05), Ed Reed (Madden 06), Nnamdi Asomugha (Madden 09)

Bailey and Asomugha are two of the fastest DBs in the history of the game, and just happened to bring lockdown defensive abilities to the table with their speed. Reed and Dawkins flat out brought the pain, both making great use of the hit stick.

K: Adam Vinatieri (Madden 06)

PR/KR: Dante Hall (Madden 04)

He was Devin Hester before Devin Hester. Hall was the fastest, most elusive return man in the pre-Hester era. I’ll take him for nostalgia’s sake.

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