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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The Gamer: A few words with Bucs QB Josh Freeman


He's got a cannon, but how much will that 4.97 40 haunt Freeman as a Madden player?

When Josh Freeman was selected in the first round of the NFL draft, football fans in Tampa scrambled to the Web for all the latest info about their new QB. Sure he ran the 40 in 4.97 seconds and stands an intimidating 6-6, 248 pounds with an arm span of 32 3/4 inches. But if you're a gamer, you could care less about those numbers. How does that arm span and athletic frame translate into virtual throwing power? That's the real question millions of Madden fanatics across the country were wondering as they flooded the EA Sports Web site looking for the early answers to the rookie ratings in the game.

"I'm a big-time gamer, so these numbers mean a lot," Freeman told me at the EA Sports Draft Night Premiere party at the Providence in New York. "But what I really want is for them to finally get my skin tone right. One year I was white then another year I was really dark. Hopefully in Madden they'll get that straightened out."

As for Freeman's ratings in the game, looks like EA did the rookie right. He will have one of the strongest arms in Madden, with a 96 for throwing power, but his 72 overall rating shows there's still a lot of room for improvement.

I sat down with Freeman for about 10 minutes at the party to get his thoughts on everything from his Xbox 360 Elite to why he's so slow in NCAA Football 09.

The Mag: Do people ever make fun of your NCAA character? He is tragically slow. Josh Freeman: Oh my god, people come up to me all the time like, 'You're so slow in the game, Freeman!' People try to run the option with me, but I have like 68 speed and fumble like crazy. I'm not real big on playing as myself for that reason alone. Too slow. I actually like to play as Oklahoma State or my main man Tim Tebow out in Florida. What's funny, though, is a couple of years ago everyone used to complain how I was too fast in the game.

What's your video game system of choice? I've got the black Xbox 360 Elite edition hooked up to surround sound with a nice TV. It's a good setup.

What's the first game that got you hooked back in the day? I used to play Super Nintendo and all the Mario games, but the first football game I loved was Madden 64. It didn't even have the real teams in the game, but back then the graphics were groundbreaking.

Back when you were playing Madden as a kid, did you ever imagine that one day you would be in the game? I actually did. I was like, man I can't wait until I'm in the NFL. Even back then when the game didn't have the real names of players or the real teams, I always thought I was headed to the NFL, headed into Madden.

What was the whole draft process like? Doesn't it seem like it's been going on forever? It really does feel like forever. I'm just glad we're at the end. It has been an unforgettable experience, that's for sure, and I think for the most part, things went pretty smooth.

What's the weirdest question a team asked you during one of your interviews? I was actually in this one really intense interview where they were just grilling me the entire time, and then they were like, okay, we've got one more question. All the coaches leaned in and they asked: "Have you ever worn women's underwear?" I was like, "no, not that I can recall." [laughs]

What team was that? I can't really say. I'm not trying to put them on blast.

What's the one thing about college you're going to miss? Seeing all my friends. The thing about college is everybody is just right there. It's a real close-knit community. I'll miss those relationships and the whole college atmosphere.

What do you think you'll be remembered for at Kansas State? I broke a lot of records at Kansas State that I can't see anyone breaking anytime soon. I'm also going to be the first quarterback in Kansas State history to be drafted in the first round, so that's pretty heavy right there.

What's the biggest thing you need to work on once you show up to your first camp with your new team? For me, the biggest thing is really diving into the system and learning everything I can about the playbook. Obviously, there are other things I need to work on, but I'm excited to get started and do everything I can in order to be successful.

Who do you hope your character will play like in Madden NFL 10? That's a tough one. I really like playing as Brett Favre in the game, but for the most part I play as Minnesota, so I can be Adrian Peterson. I just hope he plays like me. I know whenever I play the game, the quarterback only shrugs off a sack like one out of every 100 times. I hope it's more like 50 out of 100 for me.

One of the new features in Madden is actually a fumble pile where the ball will change hands multiple times depending on who is pounding the button faster. I was just wondering, what is that fumble pile like in real life? It depends on who you're playing, honestly. Some teams, there will be a big pile, and if you're at the bottom people will pinch you, poke you and try to poke your eyes out. It's pretty intense. The ball is squirting around down there and everybody wants it. It's crazy.