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It wasn’t pretty. Defense dominated the game, but a late scoring drive by Tom Brady led to a Sony Michel touchdown, and the New England Patriots beat the Los Angeles Rams 13-3. It was the Pats’ sixth Super Bowl victory, tying them with the Pittsburgh Steelers for most championships in the Super Bowl era. Say what you want about it, but this native New Englander remembers when they flat-out sucked, making all this winning soooo much sweeter!

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – FEBRUARY 03: Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams in the fourth quarter during Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Neither team could get anything going on offense, as the Rams’ #2 ranked defense and the Pats’ #4 ranked defense hit hard. Stephen Gostkowski nailed a 42 yard field…

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday! As you all may know, many former football players have made the transition from the Gridiron to the Silver Screen. In honor of tonight’s Big Game, I’ve assembled a All-Pro gallery of posters starring ex-jocks turned actors:

Jim Brown, running back, Cleveland Browns (1957-65)

Brian Bosworth, linebacker, Seattle Seahawks (1987-89)

Bernie Casey, halfback/flanker, San Francisco 49ers (1961-66), Los Angeles Rams (1967-68)

Fred Dryer, defensive end, New York Giants (1969-71), LA Rams (1972-81)

Rosey Grier, defensive tackle, NY Giants (1955-62), LA Rams (1963-66)

Joe Namath, quarterback, New York Jets (1965-76), LA Rams (1977)

O.J. Simpson, running back, Buffalo Bills (1969-77), SF 49ers (1978-79)

Bubba Smith, defensive end, Baltimore Colts (1967-72), Oakland Raiders (1973-74), Houston Oilers (1975-76)

Woody Strode, offensive end, Los Angeles Rams, (1946)

Carl Weathers, linebacker, Oakland Raiders (1970-71)

Fred “The Hammer” Williamson, defensive back, Pittsburgh Steelers (1960), Oakland Raiders (1961-64), Kansas City Chiefs (1965-67)


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In Memorian 2018: Pro Wrestling

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The squared circle tolled ten bells for “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino , probably the most popular wrestler of his generation, who died at age 82. Bruno held the WWWF/WWF (now WWE) world title longer than anyone, 11 years in two title reigns (1963-71, 1973-77), took on and defeated all comers, and sold out New York’s fabled Madison Square Garden a record 188 times. Sammartino was a legit tough guy who once held the record in the bench press (565 pounds), and had a no-nonsense rep backstage. You just didn’t mess with Bruno! He appeared at the first WRESTLEMANIA, in the movie BODY SLAM, and was indicted into numerous Halls of Fame celebrating his almost thirty year career. A hero to millions of grappling fans (including Yours Truly), there will never be another Bruno Sammartino.

Many of Bruno’s in-ring foes also took the three-count in 2018. Pittsburgh native ‘Luscious’ Johnny…

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The Greatest Football Team Ever!

Radio did not make the team.

With the Super Bowl coming up, I decided to dip into my knowledge of sports movies and assemble the greatest football team ever.  Though this team will not be playing on Sunday night, I think that they could give both the Patriots and the Eagles a run for their money.

I present to you, the greatest football team ever:

Head Coach — Jimmy McGinity (played by Gene Hackman in The Replacements).  It’s not easy being the head coach of an NFL team.  When your team is winning, everyone loves you.  When the team struggles, everyone calls for your head.  But if you’re going to have a winning football team, you have to have a good coach.  (At least, that’s the way it is in the movies.  In real life, even Barry Switzer managed to win a super bowl.)  I considered both Any Given Sunday‘s Tony D’Amato and North Dallas Forty‘s B.A. Strother for this position but I went with Jimmy McGinity because he had more heart than B.A. but he wasn’t as emotionally unstable as Tony.  McGinty led a bunch of replacement players to victory.  Imagine what he can do with a team of movie characters!

Quarterback — Steamin’ Willie Beamen (played by Jamie Foxx in Any Given Sunday).  Quick on his feet and possessing an arm like a rocket, Willie Beamen had what it took to be one of the greats.  He may have let his ego get the better of him but, by the end of the season, he proved that he could be a leader on the field and off.  Assuming Willie doesn’t let his burgeoning musical career distract him, he has what it takes to lead our fictional team to the Super Bowl.

Backup Quarterback — Seth Maxwell (played by Mac Davis in North Dallas Forty).  What if Willie Beamen does let his ego get out of control again?  That’s where the sure hand of veteran quarterback Seth Maxwell comes in.  Seth can keep Willie focused on the field while keeping everyone high off the field.

Running back — Julian Washington (played by LL Cool J in Any Given Sunday).  Julian may spend too much time worrying about his shoe deal but no one can run a ball across the end zone like he can.  Need a second opinion?  Just ask him!

Fullback — Al Bundy (played by Ed O’Neill on Married With Children.)  You may not know it from looking at him but the last time Al Bundy played fullback, he scored four touchdowns in one game.

Wide Receiver — Rod Tidwell (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in Jerry Maguire).  You may get sick of him shouting his catch phrase but Rod can still make the big plays.  Just be careful around his agent.  People say that guy never knows when to stop talking.

Wide Receiver — Phil Elliott (played by Nick Nolte in North Dallas Forty.)  Since Phil can catch everything, he’s a natural pick, even if he doesn’t respect the system.

Wide Receiver — Charlie Tweeder (played by Scott Caan in Varsity Blues).  Charlie may be young and he may be wild but he can catch a ball.  Once Phil Elliott gets kicked off the team for not respecting the system, Charlie will easily shift into the 2nd wide receiver spot.

Tight End — Billy Clyde Puckett (played by Burt Reynolds in Semi-Tough).   Billy Clyde might not like being moved from running back to tight end but if anyone can pull off the transition, it’ll be a fun-loving veteran like Billy Clyde.  In the tight end position, Billy Clyde will also be available to prevent any of the players from getting involved in any cult activity.

Left Tackle — Fred O’Bannion (played by Ben Affleck in Dazed and Confused).  To quote Randall “Pink” Floyd, “Yeah, he’s kind of a joke.  Not a bad guy to have blocking for you, though.”

Left Guard — Billy Bob (played by Ron Lester in Varsity Blues.)  Billy Bob might not be the smartest guy on the field but no one’s going to get past him.

Center — Painless Pole Waldowski (played by John Schuck in MASH).  The Painless Pole may have been the best equipped dentist in Korea but he was also a fierce linesman as he proved when he became one of the first characters to drop the F-bomb in a major American motion picture.

Right Tackle — Joe Bob Priddy (played by Bo Svenson in North Dallas Forty).  Joe Bob was a good old boy racist and didn’t have much going on in the brains department but he understood the system.

Right Guard — O.W. Shaddock (played by John Matuszak in North Dallas Forty).  You can’t have Joe Bob Priddy without his partner in crime, O.W. Shaddock.

Left End — Steve Lattimer (played by Andrew Byniarski in The Program).  Just be careful about the roid rage.

Right End — Clubber Lang (played by Mr. T in Rocky III).  Clubber may have been a boxer but if Tim Tebow can play baseball after football, Clubber can follow his stint as heavyweight champion with a defensive position on the greatest football team ever.

Defensive Tackle — Samson (played by Richard Kiel in The Longest Yard).  Samson was a linebacker in the movie but I’m moving him to defensive tackle.  It doesn’t matter what position he plays.  No one is going to mess with Richard Kiel.

Defensive Tackle — “Terrible” Terry Tate (played by Lester Speight in several Reebok commercials).  Hey, the office linebacker had some moves on him!

LOLB — Charles Jefferson (played by Forrest Whitaker in Fast Times At Ridgemont High).  A great defensive player already, just check out what Charles Jefferson is capable of if he thinks someone has messed with his new car.

MLB —General Zod (played by Terrence Stamp in Superman II).  Every defensive unit needs a ruthless strategist who will do what it takes to destroy the other team.  Everyone on that field will bow before Zod.

ROLB — Ogre (played by Donald Gibb in Revenge of the Nerds).  His real name may have been Frederick Palowaski but he’ll always be Ogre to me.

Cornerback — Vontae Mack (played by Chadwick Boseman in Draft Day).  For some reason, Vontae was happy to be drafted by the Cleveland Browns in Draft Day.  After playing for a season, he hopefully saw the error of his ways and demanded to be traded to the greatest football team ever!

Cornerback — Johnny Lawrence (played by William Zabka in The Karate Kid).  Let’s see if Johnny can bring the same skill to the football field that he previously brought to cheating in the All Valley Tournament.

Free Safety — Non (played by Jack O’Hallaron in Superman II).  Non might not be able to speak but as long as General Zod’s playing linebacker, Non will know what to do.

Short Safety — Benny O’Donnell (played by Cole Hauser in Dazed and Confused).  No one’s going to get away with not signing their pledge as long as Benny is on the team.

Punter — Gus (played by several uncredited donkeys in Gus) — That donkey can really kick!

Kicker — Lucy Draper (played by Kathy Ireland in Necessary Roughness).  Did you see that field goal she kicked in the South Texas/Kansas game?  Three points can be the difference between a victory and a loss.

Kick Returner — The Freshman (played by Harold Lloyd in The Freshman).  He may not have a name or much ability but he’s got enough heart and gumption to lead a team to victory!

Waterboy — Robert “Bobby” Boucher, Jr (played by Adam Sandler in The Waterboy).  Someone’s got to keep the team hydrated!

Now, hit the field and make us proud!

As for the Super Bowl, I’m predicting the Patriots will win, 28-3.

In Memoriam 2017: Sports & Other Pop Culture

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Since I’m a Massachusetts-based writer and unrepentant Boston sports fan, I’m dedicating this final “In Memoriam” post to two legends in their respective sports. The Red Sox’ Bobby Doerr was MLB’s oldest living player when he died in November at age 99. Doerr was a Hall of Fame second baseman, 9 time All-Star, and one of the best hitters and fielders at his position. Hockey Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt played 16 years with the Boston Bruins, eight of them on the feared “Kraut Line” alongside Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer. Schmidt also coached the Bruins from 1954-66, and passed away in January at 98.

Boston Celtic Fab Melo

Perhaps the saddest loss in Boston sports was former Boston Celtic first round pick Fab Melo, who died at the tender age of 26 from a heart attack in his native Brazil. Quincy, MA native Sam Mele (98) roamed right field…

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The Players Should Never Be a Major

Rickie Fowler’s performance in the fourth round of The 2015 Players Championship today was definitely one for the ages. He shot six under on the final six holes and beat out Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner in a playoff, sealing the deal with a beautiful shot off the tee and a short putt on the most iconic hole on the PGA tour: the 17th at TPC Sawgrass. The sports commentators immediately started to speculate whether this might be the performance that finally launched The Players into Major Championship status, and I cringed.

The obvious argument against a fifth major is that it would dilute the significance of the other four. Four is a sort of magic number long accepted in individual sports as the amount of events that are allowed to matter most. Five would mean that no one Major Championship is as important as a Grand Slam tournament in tennis. Five would make career grand slams even more difficult to obtain. Five would forever taint the man who finally breaks Jack’s 18.

But besides that, being golf’s fifth best tournament is part of what makes The Players special. Sports history is important in golf. You get a vision in your head of how you want that history to unfold, and it gives you an emotional connection to how individual players perform. I want to see Tiger get his game back. I want to see Phil and Rory thrive. I want to see Lee Westwood and Henrik Stenson claim that elusive first major before their careers dwindle to a close. I get a sense of satisfaction watching Jim Furyk and knowing that he did pull it off. Everything ties back to those four majors. Once you win, you’re in the club of legends. I mean, no one is ever going to suggest that Shaun Micheel had a better career than Colin Montgomerie, but his feels more complete in a sense.

And that’s where The Players comes in. It’s the tournament that is almost a major. It is almost complete, but something is missing. It needs more, and the right names in the winners’ circle give it more… but never quite enough. If the majors make legends, legends make The Players. It’s one of the only tournaments where the event and the player can both benefit from each other’s prestige.

Saturday night, I had all but lost interest. In terms of seeing the tournament thrive, the top 10 was a ghost town. I felt a distant glimmer of hope that Sergio Garcia could pull something off (he nearly did). Otherwise, uh, go Bill Haas I guess. Then, Rickie Fowler surged up the leaderboard in the ultimate aura of almost. A nearly major champion who should have five or six wins on tour, his biggest career highlight was his streak of not quite winning scores in majors in 2014. He won the almost major championship in style, proving that he’s just as good as we didn’t quite believe he was. And he beat Kevin Kisner, a guy most of us were rooting against because this was the last tournament we wanted a no-name to win.

Everything about the 2015 Players Championship felt really good. A tournament in eternal need of more big name winners got one. A big name in need of career highlights got one. A guy with no highlights to speak of is now on our radar without having ultimately spoiled our fun. And Fowler’s performance was thrilling to watch besides all that. It’s no wonder the announcers were all talking Major Championship status, but it is exactly why The Players needs to stay right where it is. This year serves once again to show how well The Players fulfills its role as a “to be continued” event leading into the U.S. Open. If we made them equals, we might diminish them both.

Why I Hate Bubba Watson

I have two major hobbies: music and sports. I only tend to write about the former because frankly, I have no idea what it’s like to be an athlete. Aside from some peewee baseball and my Army training, I can’t say I’ve ever physically exerted myself for reasons other than a paycheck. I love watching sports for the suspense and the statistics; I don’t pretend to know the game better than any of the players and coaches actually involved. It is with that in mind that I’d rather not pass judgement on Bubba Watson’s controversial comments to his caddie over the weekend. For those of you unfamiliar with the headlining golf gossip of the week, Watson headed to the 16th on Sunday with a two stroke lead and then managed to triple-bogey and blow the tournament. With all cameras pointed his direction, he appeared to criticize his caddie for one bad shot after another rather than accepting blame for his mistakes. Were his complaints legitimate? Probably not. He’d already played the par 3 16th three times that week, scoring two pars and a birdie. I would hope a professional at his level knew what to expect without relying on his assistant to make the calls for him. But I don’t play golf; I just watch it obsessively. Maybe his caddie really did cost him the tournament; or more realistically, maybe the media, riding off Sergio Garcia’s fried chicken comment, was desperate to create ratings-boosting controversies out of nothing. He is probably only guilty of forgetting that the cameras were rolling while venting his general frustration over a series of shots that cost him more than $800,000.

But let the pundits sling their mud, because I hate Bubba Watson’s guts. When he beat out Louis Oosthuizen at the 2012 Masters, I practically fell into a depression. There is always a bittersweet feeling when unrepentant athletes with substantial skeletons in their closets achieve the ultimate goal in sports, but at least no one thinks Kobe Bryant or Ray Lewis are good guys. Watson is different. Not only is he the biggest asshole in sports to have never killed somebody or beat his wife, but he has convinced a sizable fan base that he is the ideal Christian role model.

Bubba wants you to know that he “loves Jesus and loves sharing his faith”. It’s the very first line on his official website’s “Who is Bubba Watson” section. Moreover, “Bubba and his wife, Angie [sic] are committed Christians who share a passion for philanthropy and dedicate as much time as possible to giving back.” At every turn in Bubba’s career, he is careful to remind the media of his faith and philanthropy. He tells us through social media. He tells us in press conferences. He tells us in private interviews. Most athletes talk about “giving back” at some point; it’s PR 101. But Bubba wants you to know that he’s not just your average athlete philanthropist. No, his entire life is a service to Jesus Christ and his good word. Let us count the ways.

Bubba Watson adopted a child. He gave some poor Chinese girl about to be drowned in a river, or maybe some AIDs-ridden Nigerian teen, a shot at a good life, right? Oh, never mind. He adopted a one month old white male when his wife couldn’t get pregnant. You know, the sort of kid you have to go on a years-long waiting list to acquire, because every rich white asshole who can’t produce an heir wants one.

Bubba Watson places his family first, even at the expense of his tour schedule. That’s what he told us when he canceled his May tour dates, including the prestigious Players Championship, after winning the Masters last year. He wanted to be there for his little Caleb, and teach him how a responsible, caring a dad ought to act. He’s got his priorities straight, unlike those other pros. Now Caleb will have lots of great memories of his dad being there for him when he was… two or three months old? Yeah, it’s regarded as highly unprofessional in golf to take a month off just because you “feel like it”, but so what? Bubba had just banked $1,440,000 and accomplished the greatest goal in professional sports: he won a championship. Instead of just ignoring the petty media buzz over his vacation, he twisted it in his mouth and in his mind into some sort of charitable expression of Christian values. Give me a goddamn break. Phil Mickelson showed up to the U.S. Open jetlagged this year because he flew over night from his daughter’s graduation in San Diego, and the only reason the media made a big deal about it was because it’s Phil and he almost won anyway. He–like the majority of PGA tour members–knew how to responsibly balance his personal and professional priorities, and he never bragged about it. All Phil proved is that he’s a good father. He never suggested he was better than all the other good fathers out there. Bubba took a month off to party and celebrate his own accomplishments–that much is arguably tasteless but fine–and then he intentionally projected it as though this made him the PGA’s ultimate family man.

Bubba Watson raised over one million dollars for charity this year, through a combination of donations and his own earnings. Charitable giving ought to be expected, since, according to Bubba Watson, “Bubba’s character exemplifies the strength and humility it takes to succeed in life.” But what athlete doesn’t donate a little to charity? What has Bubba done towards this end that somehow gives him more bragging rights than the rest of them? Is it the fact that he does it with God on his side, whereas the others are just decent human beings? Bubba just loves to talk about what a humble guy he is–as long as the topic is distanced from his boasts about wearing a $500,000 watch (did I just say a $500,000 watch?…) and driving the original Dukes of Hazzard General Lee stunt car. Hey, I’d live large if I was a celebrity or sports star too, but I don’t think I’d brag about following the teachings of Jesus while doing so. I mean, I don’t read or believe in the Bible, but I’ve never seen anyone quote that passage where Jesus talks about the virtue of investing the vast majority of your earnings into frivolous social status symbols.

Bubba Watson donates for breast cancer research. That’s cool. He also donates to a military veterans service for wounded Green Berets. I’ve got no personal issue with that, though I think Jesus was a pacifist. But here’s what I really love: he donates to The City Church. I don’t know how familiar the average, non-psychopathic American is with non-denominational Christian mission organizations, but I grew up surrounded by them. They’re absolutely traumatizing brain-washing centers where you are taught at a young and volatile age that all of your friends and family will suffer terribly if you aren’t prepared to die as a martyr for their salvation. You learn all about how America ruthlessly persecutes Christians (i.e. non-denominational Christians, because anyone who acknowledges multiple interpretations of Christianity is clearly misguided and requires your guidance for salvation), how homosexuals, feminists, environmentalists, socialists, non-Christians, and really most Christians too–basically anyone who doesn’t watch Fox News–are corrupting God’s kingdom and distorting his values, and how only you have been entrusted by God with “the truth” and the power to fight back. Stellar fucking stuff; the real “Onward Christian Soldier” mentality. I have enough personal experience to recognize by browsing that website exactly what Bubba’s “charitable donations” are going towards. But it comes as no shock to me. It’s entirely in keeping with everything else the man does.

Bubba Watson is not afraid to speak out against corruption and evil when he sees it! Why, at the Alstom Open de France in 2011, when his classy 5-star hotel had the nerve to pollute his room with bottles of vintage wine, he dumped them out his window and let the world know about it. When the crowd heckled him the next day, he did not back down from righteousness! He bravely announced his total disgust with European culture and refused to return to any future European Tour event. (Except the Open Championship of course; he can make a lot of money there and maybe buy a second watch.)

Athletes and celebrities can do whatever they want with their earnings. While I think some of the charities he supports are better branded as dangerous hate groups, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with the majority of his actions. But Bubba adamantly insists–and adamantly believes–that he is the most humble and charitable man in golf. He’s the 21st century version of a white supremacist piece of shit, and quite possibly the most egotistical, self-righteous bigot on the PGA Tour. And did I mention he has openly criticized Tiger Woods for not setting a good example?

Scenes I Love: The Butt Fumble (by N.Y. Jets and Mark Sanchez)

It’s a slow Friday night and once again boredom has hit him until I came upon a great idea. What better way to relieve myself of this boredom than to watch one of the funniest moments in NFL history. It also happens to be one of the most embarrassing moments for the NY Jets, their fans and their hapless and useless of a starting quarterback Mark Sanchez.

The scene is straight out of the late season game between heated AFC East rivals New England Patriots and the NY Jets. What makes this a favorite scene of mine even though I’m a diehard San Francisco 49ers fan is the fact that it’s a sequence that never gets old and continues to entertain.

It’s the play simply called “The Butt Fumble.”

ENJOY! (I know pantsukudasai56 will)

Congratulations to the SF Giants: 2012 World Series Champions!

Two years ago I celebrated the San Francisco Giants winning the team’s first World Series title since they moved to San Francisco from New York. Tonight they do it once again and it is a fine time to be a sports fan in the Bay Area. Looking like a mini-dynasty in the making I’m so very proud of this team and solidifies why my first sports love will always remain baseball and the Giants as the top sports team in my heart and soul.

So, congratulations to Sergio Romo for shutting down the feared Detroit Tigers line-up and for sporting one awesome beard. Congratulations to our city’s own Kung Fu Panda in Pablo Sandoval. No one’s talking and complaining about his weight problem now. He has achieved his inner peace and let this Dragon Warrior do what he’s good at even if it means eating and eating. Congratulations to Buster Posey who now has two World Series title under his belt and barely two full seasons of work as a major league baseball player. He’s the cornerstone of what looks like the team of the NL for years to come. Finally congratulations to Bruce Bochy. Let no one ever dispute whether he’s a Hall of Fame manager or belongs in the company of baseball’s great managers past and present.

Finally, congratulations to the rest of the San Francisco Giants, it’s fans, the City that has supported it and the rest of the Bay Area all the way down to San Jose who have supported the champs through thick and thin. Now let the celebration begin and let the parade of Champions start on Halloween.

Review: NCAA Football 12

Yes, it’s that time of year everyone. Football season looms … at least, it does for the thousands of student athletes within the NCAA system. The NFL is still in limbo, even if it now appears inevitable (although either way, it won’t slow down the annual Madden release). Now, let me preface this review by saying that I don’t actually enjoy college football. I find the poor defensive play and imbalanced match-ups boring, and I hate the way that the BCS standings come together over the course of a season. The fact that the Big East has an automatic bid is a bad joke, etc. All of this is probably because I never attended a university where college football mattered. But absolutely none of that counts in the world of video games!

As a visceral experience, there’s a lot to be said for the college football style. Here, we still live in a world where running the football can be king, and a world in which the QB option (in a shocking variety of forms) can still be a primary offensive tool. Teams suffer every year from playing the service academies (who still run the triple option) because defending it is so different from the spread, or even the spread option, that most teams run. If you’re looking for a football experience where all of these systems are in play, then you should run — not walk — toward NCAA Football 12. Of course, most people are more NFL fans than NCAA fans, if the numbers are to be believed… but the one thing that the video game version will always have over Madden is that it isn’t quite so formulaic. We’re dealing with an eclectic mixture of offenses and defenses. If you care to start a dynasty (and the dynasty features are outstanding in the new version. In NCAA Football 12 we’re treated to the full coaching experience. More on that in a bit.) you have a ton of player turnover, which can make it difficult to have a consistent program. I suppose it’s probably easier if you’re a fan of Alabama or Florida. I’m not, so this title has a refreshing ‘battle uphill’ feel, especially in the Dynasty Mode.

The flagship promotion for this game has to do with the authentic recreations of the university celebrations, pre-game ceremonies, etc. It deserves to be the most outstanding feature. Granted, it has absolutely no effect on game-play, but one of the things that sets college football apart from the professional game is the sheer number of teams in play – each with their own unique celebrations, entries, and whatever else – who have their own tradition. If that kind of personalized experience doesn’t faze you, then you won’t find much of note has changed between iterations of this game. The graphics are still in the same generation, we have the same playbooks, the announcers have actually become less interesting (which may be a selling point, depending on your point of view – Lee Corso has made his departure), and there are no real innovations in game-play. The tackling feels slightly more authentic — that is, there’s less magnet tackling — and the AI that guides defensive players in zone defenses is dramatically improved over the 2011 version of this title. You can actually feel pretty confident when calling cover 3 defense… of course, this goes double for the AI player, who aggressively bats down passes (but mercifully doesn’t seem to randomly intercept any more). Still, the game emphasizes more than ever the value of lofting a pass high to avoid marauding defenders as opposed to just firing laser beam passes from point A to point B.

Outstanding features include the Dynasty mode. Returning are the online dynasty features, which were a huge improvement in last year’s title… but massively upgraded are the single player versions. You can now create your own coaching avatar who can hold the position of Offensive/Defensive Coordinator, or Head Coach, at a university of your choice – but who is held accountable for the team’s performance. The university has expectations, and you can experience first-hand being on the coaching hot seat and being fired from your job. Of course, if you’re good enough at the game, this is hardly a concern… but it does add a fascinating dynamic to the experience – a bad recruiting class could still doom you! If you are fired, you end up on the coaching carousel looking for a new job. It’s definitely a cool feature, even if you probably won’t run into it much.

The other game mode which received a significant overhaul is the Road to Glory mode. As always, you create a single player, and advance from a top-rated high school prospect through your collegiate career at whatever university. However, this time around, the experience is much more interactive. We’re treated with a game mode that allows us to fully develop a single player in a much more immersive way than in previous installments. Your created player will gain experience and skills — as always — but also adapt to (or be moved into) a specific role on the team. I imagine this is a much more authentic recreation of what going out for Div 1 sports is really like… but you tell me.

The game does take a significant step back in terms of calling audibles. I would say that the player is given more freedom than ever in terms of setting up audibles (with the addition of custom playbooks) but gone are the menus that actually tell you which button push calls what. Or, at least, they were absent for me. It seems like a senseless change, and one that left me feeling pretty bitter through my Dynasty play… when I had to frequently consult my audible chart in order to keep track of what I was calling, and when. If I could remember all of this playart, I’d probably be playing Div 1 football myself.

As always, this game will synergize with the Madden release in terms of draft classes, as the Madden schedule continues uninterrupted. Definitely worth a pick-up if you’re starved for some video game football, or if you consider yourself a college ball fan.