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NFL players try to convince Madden ‘Czar’ to increase video game rating

Posted Apr 17, 2014

Travis Benjamin wants the highest speed rating

Travis Benjamin one of many NFL players lobbying for a better Madden ranking

Donny Moore might have the most fascinating job in the sporting world.  

Around his office, he is simply known as ‘The Czar.’

The 36-year-old EA Sports employee has final say over every single NFL player’s ratings in the Madden video game series. The perks are limitless.

“Every Sunday my wife knows I’m busy on the couch,” Moore said. “Missing an NFL Sunday is like missing 1/16 of my workload for a year.”

Over the course of the offseason, Moore must reevaluate all 2,200 players in the game. He watches hours of film each day, consults with high-level sources and uses metric systems created by Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders. Rating each player takes about 25-minutes. Moore even has to update trivial things like tattoos and hair styles.

There is a certain prestige in the sporting world about an NFL player’s Madden ranking. If you don’t believe players care about their assessment in the video game, you’re sadly mistaken.

Moore regularly receives calls and complaints from players, most notably Dez Bryant and Richard Sherman. Bryant is known to frequent Moore’s direct messages on Twitter, prodding ‘The Czar’ to re-watch Bryant’s film. And Moore describes Sherman as a, “very loud and interactive guy.”

Recently, when a Madden production crew was in Berea taking photographs for the game, Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin asked producers who he needed to talk to about his ratings.

“I should be the fastest guy in the game,” exclaimed Benjamin, who was tabbed with a 98 speed rating in last year’s version of the game. After hearing the power Moore has, Benjamin even tweeted him to convince the producer his case. Benjamin plays the game several times a week online with teammates Phil Taylor, Greg Little and Dion Lewis.

The good thing about the newer versions of Madden is that ratings can be adjusted in the middle of the season. For example, last year Ravens running back had a significant drop off in performance. When the game was shipped, Rice was rated at 95 overall. By season’s end, Rice had dipped all the way to an 83.

“That’s the tough part about my job,” Moore said. “Going into this year, how much do I penalize a guy like Ray Rice? He’s been solid his whole career.”

As for the Browns? Players trending upwards in the ratings category include Josh Gordon, Jordan Cameron and even Brian Hoyer.

“Hoyer is rated very respectably in Madden for a guy with kind of a light track record,” said Moore.

Part of Moore’s childhood was before the internet. As a 10-year-old, he used to scribble down every pick in the NFL draft to keep track of the marathon event. Now he’s parlayed that into helping decide the public’s perception on how good certain NFL players are. 

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