You know what today is?

ShaunAlexander2lg.jpg

Bills1lg.jpg

Unless you are completely devoid of any football and gaming awareness, you know that today is the release day of “Madden ’07.” The release day has become something of a legend, contributing to hours and hours of lost productivity on the American workforce. If you’re not peeling through the franchise mode, you’re checking out the new features that get added every year. I managed to get a taste a few days ago before AGI (after about a year of not playing any “Madden” title whatsoever) and I’m trying to immerse myself in it as much as I can before heading east to see family (and of course, finding even more time for ‘Madden’ balling).

I’m whipping through the PS2 version first, “Superstar” mode specifically. It still does that creepy “pick the right set of parents” thing, but I’ve gotten over it. I actually had a college superstar waiting to get imported, and I found something that bothered me a little. He’s a four-time first team All-American, four-time national champ, three-time Heisman winner, and the NCAA career leader in rushing yards and TDs — and he gets drafted late in the second round. What!? I look on the depth chart and his ratings are still through the roof — a 98 for speed (faster than Reggie Bush), and 95 break tackle rating. I even had good workouts on All-Madden level! Why the slide? Did he fire off offensive remarks in a drunken stupor at the Combine and I just didn’t know about it? Explain.

As you know, they’ve concentrated hardcore on the running game this year, which has meant the end of some itty-bitty corner spearing the T.J Ducketts and Jamal Lewis’ of the world. I’m liking the highlight stick — it gives running game fans like me a chance to tear off some pretty nice looking runs. In my first “competitive” game in a year, I managed to tear off a 60 yard TD run with Larry Johnson. The dude I was playing gave me props (on the way to beating me), but it was really the result of some pretty clean blocking. The O-linemen seem to be much better at picking up their blocking assignments this year. However, there are times when it’s TOO good — I’m remember using a slide move with LT to fire through a hole that was the size of a one-car garage.

Lots of people like to come out passing when they get they’re hands on ‘Madden’ — I like to run. To me, getting the running game right seems harder than installing an intricate passing game, because it’s more of a ‘feel’ thing, and an aspect that all football games should excel at. Running the ball feels a lot more fun this year, and I’m going to make it my mission to gain access to some Hall of Fame runners.

I’ll be gone all this week, but I plan to write more about ‘Madden’ as grab onto the 360 version. I hope it’s better than the last one.