This year's NFL lockout will even affect players of video games, says NFL Hall of Fame coach and former analyst John Madden. When players boot up this year's version of Madden NFL 12 (out Tuesday, $60, for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360; $50 for Wii; $40 for PS2 and PlayStation Portable), they will get updated team rosters.
Those online updates will continue in the coming weeks, too, out of necessity. "Football right now still is kind of like musical chairs. Everyone is moving around and then the music has to stop and they have to get set and settle," Madden says. "It's going to be interesting to see the rosters adjust on the teams. That's the great thing about the (video) game. Because the NFL game changes, we have to change all the time to keep up with it. And the way it is going to be this year, it's going to be on a weekly basis."
In the real NFL, teams with stability in the stable coaching staff and quarterback position should be more likely to find post-season success, he says.
"There is a real advantage with this lockout thing to have been in the playoffs. It's like that old college thing, if you had a bowl game, it's like having another spring practice. If you were in the playoffs, like the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers, they played another month and a half last year longer than anyone else," Madden says. "Sometimes that was a disadvantage. (This year with the lockout), they got to play longer, get more experience and get a longer rest. I think the teams that were in the playoffs have a real advantage over the teams that weren't."
Not surprisingly, Madden likes the chances for the Packers and Steelers. "I've always been one that believes a champion is a champion until you beat them. That hasn't really played out in the NFL, that repeat type of thing. But I believe that more now than ever. I think you have to go, not necessarily with the Packers again, but you have to go with that group of teams that were in the championship games (the New York Jets and Chicago Bears) and the Super Bowl."
Teams in transition, Madden says, "that had to change head coaches, change coordinators and change systems, I think they are going to have a tough time especially early in the season."
On the much-discussed new kickoff rule, Madden says, "I think it is something that we have to do for a year and then look at the statistics. If the injuries were at a higher number and this rule cut the injuries in half, then it is successful and you stay with it."
About the possibility that Indianapolis Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning might miss the beginning of the regular season, Madden says, "I don't like the fact I'm hearing (that). Just for Peyton's sake, I mean, forget the Colts and forget winning and quarterback and all that stuff. He's such a good guy and a gentleman and a great player and great for football. Whether he misses the entire preseason or a couple regular season games, whatever he misses, I just hope he's OK."
More from our interview with Madden:
Talk about how the look of the game has changed, in part by the addition of new camera angles acquired by real NFL Films cameramen.
That's a big thing, the different angles and different way to look at it. And the graphics are better. I just think every year the game gets better. One thing about it is we can adjust and adapt to what they are doing in the league. The NFL changes all the time.
I remember when the EA Sports game designers met with you in December there was a lot of talk about improving the defenses. What will players see different?
You can do more things. You have to be able to adjust and the players are reacting more in the passing game both in zone and man to where the man goes. There was a while where they weren't getting good reactions or a lot of reaction. But now in this year's games, the defenses are going to react more before the ball is thrown and more importantly in zone, once the ball is thrown instead of just staying in a zone. In the zone, you stay in your zone and watch the quarterback and when the ball is thrown everyone reacts to the ball. So we are going to have more of that stuff.
- By Mike Snider, USA TODAY