From ambulances driving onto the field to the lifelike graphics of the Next Generation consoles, Madden has been a driving force in the gaming community. We’ve seen some unforgettable talent during its reign. But no one compares to the most unstoppable players in Madden history.
Ray Lewis—Madden 2002
Everyone directs their attention to the offensive huddle for Madden ratings, which neglects the game’s best on the other side of the ball. Unfortunately, Madden was still coaching when some of the greatest linebackers played the game, so we never got to see what Dick Butkus could have accomplished in a video game. However, we saw what Ray Lewis could do on the virtual field, which was downright scary. Players would love to patrol the middle of the field with Lewis and the rest of the Ravens’ defense, and our thumbs were quick to activate the hit stick with one of the hardest hitters in NFL history.
Peyton Manning—Madden 2011
Peyton Manning may not have had the strongest arm or the tightest spiral, but the Hall of Fame quarterback could read defenses better than the rest. Manning’s ratings in Madden video games were always stellar, although his most unstoppable attribute was his audibling like the real Peyton would.
You would have to set your defensive audibles against the Colts-turned-Broncos’ signal-caller, or else your opponent—human or computer—would “Omaha” you up and down the field.
Randy Moss—Madden 2009
Randy Moss didn’t take long to make his mark on the league with the Minnesota Vikings. Despite several All-Pro years, Moss didn’t get his first 99 rating until his single season with the Raiders. After a less-than-stellar campaign with Oakland, he headed to Boston to be with Tom Brady and break NFL records, making him a dominant force in Madden. The reason why many of us got addicted to running “Four Verticals” was because Randy Moss was always open.
Barry Sanders—Madden 1999
The Lions didn’t do right by Barry Sanders, considering the franchise’s ineptitude caused the legendary running back to retire at 31. Fortunately, you had the option to GM, coach, and play with Sanders in Madden’s franchise, so you could break as many ankles as you pleased with Sanders en route to a Super Bowl.
Jerry Rice—Madden 1999
The man with multiple receiving records that will stand the test of time, Jerry Rice, may have had his best seasons in his rearview mirror, yet that didn’t stop Nintendo from rating him 189—no, that’s not a typo—for the 1999 game. If you want to make a defensive-oriented player shudder in fear, you could have conceivably had Moss, Sanders, and Rice all on the same team in Madden 1999.
Michael Vick—Madden 2004
The creme de la crème of Madden greatness is unquestionably Michael Vick. As good as the top quarterbacks are in the NFL today, they can’t hold a candle to what Vick was capable of in Madden 2004. The Falcons QB’s overall rating was only a 95, but he might as well have been a 995. Even if facing a 3rd and 35, you would feel confident in Vick scrambling out of the pocket and outrunning the defenders chasing him.
The most unstoppable players in Madden history made it feel like you were punching in cheat codes anytime you controlled one of them—something we will never see again.