Share this story...
Latest News

Bickley & Marotta weekdays at 10 a.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona's Sports Station

Dan Bickley

The understandable yearly tradition of NFL player disdain for Madden ratings

This image provided by EA Sports shows the cover of the Madden 21 video game, featuring Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, which will be released in August. (Photo courtesy of EA Sports via AP)

Athletes have bad memories. They forget how good they have it.

They take charter planes to luxury buses idling on a tarmac. They are dropped off on doorsteps of opulent hotels. They have personal chefs at home and a permanent hand in life’s candy jar.

But there are downfalls and pitfalls, even for the absurdly rich and famous. Like Madden ratings, if you’re a NFL player.

Imagine how awful that could be in our respective lives.


Writing ability: 99

Insight: 97

Speaking ability: 90

Likeability: 72


Sources: 99

Self-promotion: 99

Stamina: 89

Speaking ability: 71 (*87 if speaking Italian)

Seriously. Imagine having your own video game persona. You’ve probably made up a few over the years. Mine were enormous distortions of the truth, configured to kick major backside on digital golf courses, football fields and baseball stadiums across America.

Now, imagine that digital persona competing in your actual profession. Like comprehensive Madden ratings for waiters, doctors and those who sell insurance for a living.

It could get very unnerving. Especially in businesses without batting averages, where subjectivity reigns, where insecurities and paranoia thrive, where greatness is in the eye of the beholder.


Professionalism: 99

Versatility: 99

Recognizable hooks/catch-phrases: 60


Observation skills: 99

Likeability: 96

Rhythm guitar: 75


Tone: 99

Charm: 99

Empathy for referees: 3

We would all recoil at the numbers assigned to our weaknesses by others. Especially if we felt slighted. Which would inevitably happen because all want to believe the best versions of ourselves are the versions that everyone else see on a daily basis.

Alas. It doesn’t work that way.

And sometimes, those in charge of the ratings are way off.

Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray recently took offense to his speed qualities in “Madden 21”, where he was assigned an underwhelming 91 rating. Ravens star Lamar Jackson was the best in that category, well above Murray with a 96.

“Na,” Murray tweeted.

Na, indeed.

Meanwhile, Murray bristled at the quarterback rating assigned to Packers star Aaron Rodgers (89 overall), who ranked sixth among his profession, behind the fast-diminishing Tom Brady.

“So disrespectful to AR,” he tweeted.

Especially with over 10 million people playing Madden football every year.

The annual unveiling of Madden ratings causes a lot of ill will. Players have threatened to boycott the Madden video game franchise in the past. Bruised egos always represent the first injuries of the football season.

Jackson seemed genuinely hurt by his overall rating of 94, which ranked third-best among quarterbacks and far behind the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes. Even though Jackson is the reigning MVP of the NFL and on the cover of “Madden 21”.

It sounds petty, but put yourselves in their position. It’s hard recognizing the truth. Especially when it’s false.

Reach Bickley at Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

Bickley & Marotta

Cardinals Interviews and Podcasts

Dan Bickley bio
Dan Bickley is the most influential sports media member in Arizona sports history, having spent over 20 years as the award-winning lead sports columnist for The Arizona Republic and and almost two decades as a Valley sports radio talk show host. In spring 2018, Bickley made the decision to leave the newspaper to join the Arizona Sports team as host of the entertaining and informative midday show Bickley and Marotta, as well as bring his opinionated and provocative column exclusively to
Bickley’s journalism career began in his hometown of Chicago, where he was part of a star-studded staff at the Chicago Sun-Times. He chronicled Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships; covered the Olympics in eight different countries and attended 14 Super Bowls; spent three weeks in an Indianapolis courthouse writing about Mike Tyson’s rape trial; and once left his laptop in an Edmonton bar after the Blackhawks reached the Stanley Cup Finals.
He has won multiple awards, written two books, formed a rock band, fathered three children, and once turned down an offer to work at the New York Times.  His passions include sports, music, the alphabet, good beer and great radio. After joining Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, he couldn’t be happier