I guess that title is incomplete but I didn't want to make it too long. So I guess the question is should John Madden punch Buddy Nix in the face or did John Madden punch Buddy Nix in the face? It's a question that I pose to you, the fan, the man, the woman.
First let's go back to 1988 when John Madden Football was released. Madden wanted John Madden Football to be as realistic as possible. This actually ended up delaying the games release because Madden was insistent on it being realistic and they finally had the game for sale in 1988. It was 1993 that things changed. When EA acquired NFL players rights the popularity of the game trended upward and eventually became insanely popular. The question that I have/had is why Madden was so insistent on the game being as realistic as possible.
So why would John Madden want the game to be as realistic as possible? Was it because he just wanted a superior video game? Was it because he thought that would attract more people to buy the game? Was it because he was an expert in the NFL and could provide things that other video game developers couldn't or didn't do at that time and wanted to take advantage of? Or was it because he was a visionary and was ahead of his time and saw video games as a way to help teach people how to play football?
It's the last question that I want to focus on. Without asking John Madden i'm not sure how one would answer the question of whether it was part of his vision to make the NFL and overall football product better. However, one thing we can conclude is that Madden has changed the NFL and football in general because of it's teaching with simulation.
Video games are more popular now than they ever have been. I remember in the early 90's that if you had a Nintendo or a Sega you typically had 5 or 6 games and probably just 1 console. Then things changed. As hardware became faster, cheaper (see Moore's law) and more popular they became very common in households which wasn't the case a mere 20 years ago. Now it's actually uncommon for you to walk into somebodies house that doesn't have a video game console. So what does that mean? Well that means that more people have access to games that are hugely popular like Madden. If you have an interest in football and video games (see: a kid) then picking up Madden and playing it on your console of choice is a no brainer. This is where I wonder if John Madden's vision became a reality.
When people play Madden they are playing simulated football, obviously. The other thing they are doing is learning how to play football properly, especially from the QB position. We're at a point where players are coming into the NFL that have had 10-15 years of simulated football experience and specifically simulated football experience from the QB position. As a result they know football better, understand it better and can make adjustments quicker. It all comes from experience. Players coming into the NFL today have a much larger advantage than generations past because of simulated football experiences.
Here's where my questions of Buddy Nix come in. Now, does John Madden have to punch Buddy Nix in the face or did John Madden punch Buddy Nix in the face? Let's see:
Does John Madden have to punch Buddy Nix in the face?
Buddy Nix already stated that he will draft a QB in this years NFL draft. Most of us want him to take a QB at 8 or earlier but certainly no later than 40. The question that I have is will Buddy speak with Doug and try to get him to let the rookie QB learn before plopping him out on the field. In years past that might have been the way to go but now a days with simulated football, training camps, OTA's, football camps, football clinics on and on and on... rookie QBs are finding their way much quicker and I feel the learning curve has dropped to the point where you can put a rookie QB out there and he'll adjust quicker. If Buddy Nix is of the old school mentality and wants the rookie QB to sit and learn then John Madden should punch him in the face.
Did John Madden punch Buddy Nix in the face?
I think he might have. It's speculation but Buddy had a clear plan that he's touted time and time again. You've read the quotes, you've listened to his radio interviews and you've watched his press conferences. Buddy Nix (paraphrasing here): "our team had no talent when I got here", "you can't put a QB in a situation like that". We've all read that, heard that and watched that right? But what if Buddy Nix got punched in the face by John Madden?
If he did in fact get punched in the face by John Madden then he knows that because of simulated football games like Madden and football resources that players have now a days that you can rebuild the team backwards and still have it be forwards.
Typically when a new regime, or should I say new front office, comes into town they want to get their QB and build around him. However with the resources that I mentioned already (simulated football, football clinics etc...) QBs can come in later when the team is already established and be just as successful because they have that simulated football experience to draw from. They've played all the different types of offenses and defenses in Madden and understand what teams are trying to do. They've played with the Saints, Patriots and Packers offenses. They've played with Dom Capers, Rex Ryan and Bill Belichicks defenses. NFL QB's coming in the NFL from college now have a better understanding of what teams are trying to do because of video game experiences. Now exploiting that on a real life football field is obviously very difficult; but that doesn't mean that it's not beneficial to their development and that it can certainly hasten their learning process on the field. If a rookie NFL QB has everything else you look for in a QB and all of a sudden also has 10-15 years of simulated football experience behind him he's going to be a better football player earlier.
So did Buddy Nix already realize that he didn't have to take a QB in his first year because of the experiences that rookie QBs can now draw from and how much quicker they learn the game and how much faster they can get on the field? As a result would that allow him to build the team first, get his QB when the time was right and then plop him out with there with a shorter learning curve than there has ever been in the NFL? Seems plausible does it not?
Madden has certainly changed the NFL and that is almost without question. Players are better faster because of simulated football but we're at the tipping point because players coming into the NFL have been playing those games since they were 8 years old. It's been part of their entire childhood and that's why players now are better faster than they ever have been.
So the question I pose to you is did Buddy Nix realize this and use that as part of his plan when building the Buffalo Bills? People will point to his age and say no way but that doesn't mean diddly poo to me. Buddy is a scout and no doubt players have most likely commented in interviews their experiences that simulated football has had on their development. But did he actually use that as part of his thought process when looking at QBs in the past drafts when he didn't take one knowing that players get better faster, quicker because of simulated football and other resources available to them. Knowing that he can build the team, plop in a young QB and have the team take off and grow around him because players now are more adaptable than ever.
It's an interesting topic and its' a topic I now turn over to you.