REPORTING FROM ... THE EA SPORTS ROOKIE MADDEN BOWL
"My awareness rating is WHAT?"
Everywhere you looked around the ballroom at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel Friday night, there was one of last fall's top college football players, eagerly waiting their turn at the videogame console for the EA SPORTS Rookie Madden Bowl. Jake Long, Matt Ryan and Darren McFadden were among the A-listers in attendance, battling it out for the title.
This Madden Bowl consists of recent draftees, fresh off taking pictures for their first pro trading cards, who had come to Southern California for the NFL's rookie premiere weekend. It was quite a scene, because it's rare to see an event like this and with these names where the ratio of players-to-agents/handlers isn't 1:10.
Truth be told, it's never been exciting watching other people play video games. But watching DeSean Jackson, a hyper sort, play can be entertaining. At one point, he looked at a virtual Kevin Curtis—after he got dragged down for negative yardage on a punt return—as if to say 'There's no way they're catching me like that when I get back there.'
Jackson used his new team—the Eagles—to play against Jamaal Charles' Carolina Panthers, even though the former Texas tailback is actually a Kansas City Chief. (If you had trouble ID-ing Charles, his necklace with the shiny, coaster-sized pendant in the shape of Texas probably helped narrow your options.)
Chris Johnson, the burner from East Carolina who the Tennessee Titans took in the first round, was noticeably disappointed with his player rating. (The rookies were given a sneak preview of their future Madden NFL 09 likenesses.) For speed, the game designers designated Johnson as a 97. That's fast, but evidently not fast enough. Johnson, who ran the fastest 40-time at the Combine, a blazing 4.24, lobbied his case to the EA reps, requesting a 99 or 100. It was a lost cause.
A few other notes:
- The Redskins, who haven't had a physical receiver since—what, when Art Monk retired?—drafted Michigan State's Devin Thomas, who is much bigger in person than I would've thought. He's not built like most receivers. In fact, he look as sturdy as many of the top running backs, with a frame similar to Darren McFadden's. Of the first-round backs, only Jonathan Stewart and Rashard Mendenhall looked thicker.
- Former USC QB John David Booty is happy to be a Viking, but downplayed all the talk about how similar Minnesota's offense is to what he ran in college. Booty says about the only pro offense that would be similar to what the Trojans do is the Raiders' scheme, and that's because their coach Lane Kiffin came from USC. Booty also was excited that his new team signed OG Drew Radovich, a rookie free agent who was a teammate at USC.
- Random sighting: Reggie Bush's former marketing guy Mike Ornstein floating around.
- I was hoping I'd run into former LSU Glenn Dorsey at the event, but I never saw him. Dorsey was probably the happiest athlete I've ever written a feature about when he found out he was going to be in The Mag. Apparently, he likes shoes a lot, too, because he says he's bought 75 pairs in the last three months.
- Oh, in the end Devin Thomas of the Redskins took home the tourney title.
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