My Own Little ‘A Football Life’ Marathon

I watched this video on Cleveland ’95 last night as well as a few other really good A Football Life documentaries on NFL Network. Sure, I’ve seen them all a half dozen times, but there’s nothing that passes the time on a dull February weekend night when it’s late than this series.

A few of the others I watched:

Houston ’93

Vince Lombardi (Part II)

Reggie White & Jerome Brown

Others I’ve watched recently:

Warren Moon

Randall Cunningham

Don Shula

The Great Wall of Dallas

Marty Schottenheimer

I hope Reggie Wayne Gives us one more season

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Reggie Wayne becomes a free agent on March 10, and the early word is that he’s unsure if he’s played his last game in his career.

I can’t imagine Reggie Wayne retiring wearing another team’s uniform. I can’t imagine that he’s got more than a year left but he should be given a final year from the Colts front office to go out on his own terms and basically serve as a mentor to the Colts’ young receivers on teaching them how to carve out Hall of Fame careers and be great professionals.

I’ve got a lot of good Reggie Wayne memories through the years. He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. Father Time catches up to everyone sometime. It looks like he’s ran down one of the greatest ever. But I wouldn’t bet against Wayne wearing blue for one more season and surprising everyone on his production and effectiveness.

I’ll never forget the Thursday Night a few days before Christmas that Reggie Wayne almost kept Peyton Manning in Indianapolis and Andrew Luck going to another team in the NFL. He had eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown from Dan Orlovsky. He did everything he could to bring home a win to Indy that night. He didn’t care about future draft picks or records or anything like that.

The guy is a winner and I need one more year to say goodbye.

Things that could make Madden the video game good again

Here’s a video of Madden 2002 – in my opinion this was the true golden era of Madden. From the graphics, to the presentation, to the draft, to the roster management and gameplay. It did not get any better than around this era for the series.

Things have since become so bad and stale.

Here are things that could save Madden ’16 (though I know it’s a pipe dream to see any of this):

  1. Bring back true field degradation. When a player is tackled, we should see grass torn up in that area of the field and divots that don’t disappear a few plays later.
  2. This could be 1a, but player uniforms should get dirtier if they’re involved in plays and tackles; and not just get naturally dirtier as the game goes on. Similar to in MLB the Show, if a player slides he gets a grass or dirt stain. If he doesn’t, his uniform stays clean. It’s 2015. Madden could make this happen. They could even make end zone or midfield logo paint on a guy’s jersey.
  3. The draft needs completely overhauled. Scouting needs completely overhauled. It feels stale. Bring back ‘former NFL player comp’ under every player.
  4. Every player in the game needs a custom face scan. Other video games do this, Madden should too.
  5. Stop recycling the same dozen player faces for drafted players. It’s just silly. Madden from the golden era that I state above would even take a custom face and slightly change it for drafted players so they looked unique.
  6. The ability to edit any quality of any player on any roster should make a return. This includes all equipment.
  7. The AI engine needs fixed. It’s still really bad.
  8. 14-10 games should be just as likely as the 38-31 shootouts. Somehow in MLB The Show, you’re just as likely to play a 2-1 game as you are a 9-7 high scoring affair. It doesn’t feel this way in Madden. Every game feels 24-21 or completely high scoring. Simulated games in the league are badly high scoring too. Bring back some defensive struggles that reflect what we still see in the NFL.
  9. Realistic AI stats for the computer. Shouldn’t see Peyton Manning throwing 14 TD and 21 INT. Engine needs fixed.
  10. The ability to edit a stadium or build a new one from scratch needs brought back. And not just when you move a team. This could be an earned reward for success in franchise play.
  11. Get rid of the canned photos of EA developers as draft prospects. Drafted players should be high resolution player illustrations with thousands of possibilities. And sorry EA Sports, but this should be what the player looks like under his helmet too. Sorry if that’s too much effort. It’s stupid to see an overweight African American man who probably works in the building as a QB prospect, and a running back prospect, and as a lineman prospect, and oh there he is again as a tight end. Again, it is 2015 and this is the Playstation 4. Every single player should look the unique with his own features, just like in real life. This is not a lot to ask. And please; stop putting dreadlocks on every other guy who doesn’t have them in his photo. Illustrations would help this a lot. Stop the dreadlock madness! It’s stupid.
  12. Somehow, some way, there needs to be something in franchise mode that ties together the league better and gives a feeling of true immersion. Back in Madden ’92 there were highlights from other games where a short clip was shown from a pivotal moment in another game. This was absolutely one of the coolest features ever in a video game; and somehow EA has never brought it back. Get rid of the stupid canned extra point halftime show idea and the sideline report from Danielle Bellini we’ve heard 10,000 times and give us unique highlights from other games around the league. Show us a ticker that comes in sporadically from the games going on around the league each week with realistic player stats (just like MLB The Show does in franchise mode). Often times I play through my season and don’t even realize what is going around the league because it is effort to know.
  13. The overall on-field gameplay needs an overhaul. The engine feels wonky and broken. I am tired of my WR catching the ball on 3rd and 10 on an 8-yard out and running out of bounds instead of trying to get past the sticks and there’s nothing I can do to help it. These movements are neither realistic nor are they looking good or feeling like free flowing gameplay. Madden 10 years ago felt like you had more control.
  14. Offensive line play often feels broken. Why is my franchise left tackle standing like a mannequin and allowing a free bull rush from the DT and the DE on my QB? Don’t ask for video evidence, people aren’t lying. Fix it.
  15. Stop with the marketing monster that you put out every year – unfulfilled promises like ‘actual referees’ which aren’t ever delivered on – and give us a simulation-style game of football to play. Something like MLB the Show or NBA2K. These games never get stale. They are in a different class then madden.
  16. Show the temperature every single week before a game kicks off, just before kickoff.
  17. Bring back better stat cards for every player. Show us advanced stats like fourth quarter comebacks, something we aren’t expecting.
  18. There is no excuse for the playoff seeding to be broken, ever. This is inexcusable. Madden 10 years ago was able to get the seeding correct; right down to tiebreakers. Isn’t this stuff tested? Can’t you create a successful algorithm that fixes this for us who wish for our team who goes 10-6 to get in over another team who goes 10-6 but loses the tiebreaker? This kind of stuff ruins franchise.
  19. Realistic franchise 20 years out. Not only make a game that makes me want to play that many years like I used to, but make a game that has new stars and faces 20 years down the line; not canned players of the same dozen faces with a bunch of fake feeling prospects.
  20. Computer draft AI. Why do I see teams with franchise QB’s taking players at that spot in the first round two years in a row? Completely broken aspect of the game. Make the computer controlled team’s roster control better.

This is just a start. These are the things I really want to see changed in Madden. I just want to love this game again, and I’m afraid I never will.

How Grantland would address keeping Andrew Luck happy

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I read this entire article over at Grantland by Robert Mays, something I do more rarely these days with a straight commission job and a three month old baby.

Mays talks about how they would address the Colts, the current state of the roster, how Indianapolis got to the current state, and where they could be headed.

Above all – Mays draws parallels between Lebron James early in his tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers and how the Colts have a once in a lifetime ‘generational’ talent in Andrew Luck. As the years roll by without a championship, time feels like it is ticking by quickly. I’m happy with the Colts progress to an AFC Championship appearance but it’s not going to get any easier to take the next step in 2015 with the way the NFL manufacturers winners and only two teams can play in the Super Bowl.

Still, Mays points towards the Colts ability to spend money this off-season and a full arsenal of draft picks at Ryan Grigson’s disposal.

I don’t know exactly what the Colts should do. I feel like they need to hit on a great offensive lineman in this draft. They need to find something that works at running back, but I don’t necessarily want it in the first round. I’m not really as sold on the talent at receiver as others. I like the weapons in Hilton, Allen, and Fleener just fine. I know Moncrief has upside, but I don’t think his ceiling is that high and I see him as more of a three or four receiver. Who knows about Hakeem Nicks. I honestly would love to see the Colts somehow get Jaelen Strong; and I want this kid badly. He’s probably the guy I would like to see them take most in the first round if he’s there. I’m tempted by Dorial Green-Beckham, but realize he has some character issues which the Colts will probably avoid with the rash of things that have plagued them recently. Plus, a guy who I thought had superstar upside Da’Rick Rogers was released after getting arrested for DUI. That was a bummer for me because I thought Luck could have turned him into a star but football first was not the priority with the kid.

If the Colts could snag Andrus Peat out of Stanford, I think that’s a home run type pick. They’ve had such good luck (no pun) with Stanford players. I think that would make Andrew Luck happy.

Draft some corner with athletic upside late and they’re obviously going to have to heavily address the defensive line, but I’m hoping someone like Suh (pipe dream) or Worilds (expensive) is bought in free agency no matter the price. Those are the things that Super Bowl caliber teams have to do while the window is open.

If Devin Funchess falls to the third round, give him a look as well. With the way the Colts play Fleener out wide, I think Funchess fits into the equation in that manner as well. I am very concerned with the weapons around Andrew Luck and if this draft is all about tooling the talent around him and addressing the defense through free agency and undrafted free agents, I think that’s the best way to approach 2015’s roster build.

Football Lords, Please let this one happen

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Jimbo Fisher says the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have contacted him already about Jameis Winston.

Don Banks has him going number one overall to Tampa in his latest mock draft for Sports Illustrated.

Peter King has him going to Tampa Bay as well but mentions that GM Jason Licht is concerned with his interceptions in college (he also has the Eagles trading up to get Marcus Mariota).

If this happens – if this kid goes number one overall to Tampa – as much as I love Andrew Luck and the Colts and the connections to Indianapolis here in the Midwest; it’s going to be insanely hard to turn away from the temptation of completely rooting for Winston in the pros more than I’ve ever rooted for any other player.

He remains my favorite college prospect of all time, for a variety of reasons. Cam Newton being number two, and Andrew Luck (my favorite player in the pros) at number three. I think Winston will be a Hall of Fame talent and play in multiple Super Bowls. I think he’ll be a complete superstar with a good completion percentage and Roethlisberger rookie low turnover ratio. Most of all, I think this guy is going to just win, win, win in the NFL. He’s just going to find a way time and again.

Tampa Bay has to pick this guy. I won’t be able to deal with it if he ends up in Tennessee or some other awful spot I would have a hard time following his career there ala Vince Young.

Peter King: Winston ahead of Mariota to go #1 Overall

I loved this lead story of SI’s MMQB by Peter King following up the combine.

The next two months will be filled with questions for Winston. You can tell he wants to be picked number one overall by the Bucs. He knows that for that to happen, the inquiries into his background are going to be intense, and he can’t have any skeletons in his closet. The pressure is just beginning.

“This is what I live for,” Winston said. “As a quarterback, the position is the most criticized and scrutinized position in all sports. I accept that role. I am ready to show you what I’m capable of, ready to gain that trust a quarterback has to have from his team.”

They’ve left the starting gate, and Winston’s got a couple of lengths on Mariota. Winston got used to playing from behind last year at Florida State. Now he’s got to handle prosperity—and be sure the private eyes don’t find anything.

And this Schefter tweet:

I loved; and miss NFL Football in the 1980’s

NFL Films presentation of the ‘Era of Excellence’ the 1980’s, narrated by John Facenda. A lot of guys in this video I adored as a youngster when I first discovered what the NFL was. You can never go back, but there was a happiness and innocence in my life and family back then that just can never be replicated.

I love that some of the memories are captured here in this great NFL Films video. I had to immortalize it on the blog.