Every time I write an item about ratings for the "Madden" video game, I receive responses from readers who just don't understand the phenomenon.
"Madden" has become an NFL institution. Back in the day, athletes used to know they made it when they saw themselves on a trading card and would compare them over the years. Now they eagerly await their video-game ratings.
Allen mentioned he played on teams that gave out championship belts.
"It was a big deal to win the Madden challenge at the end of training camp," Allen said.
Bruschi said Madden carried "a lot of weight, especially the younger [players]" with the New England Patriots.
"I remember plenty of locker-room conversations where guys are talking about their speed ratings, their strength ratings," Bruschi said.
"But I'll tell you what's most important: Your awareness rating. If you've got a 60 or a 65 awareness, you need to get yourself in the film room because even Madden sees it."
EA Sports, maker of the "Madden" franchise, is leaking ratings for teams, star players and top rookies here and there, but a complete list of individual player scores hasn't been released. "Madden NFL 11" comes out in August.
Since Bruschi brought it up, here are some of the notable AFC East veterans (rookies and players who haven't seen much action are skewed much lower) who had weak awareness ratings in "Madden NFL 10" last year.
68 Chris Baker, Patriots tight end (now with Seahawks)
68 Brandon Meriweather, Patriots safety
67 Fred Jackson, Bills running back
67 Bryan Thomas, Jets outside linebacker
66 Chansi Stuckey, Jets receiver
64 Reggie Torbor, Dolphins linebacker (now with Bills)
63 Jason Allen, Dolphins defensive back
63 Tully Banta-Cain, Patriots outside linebacker
63 Donte Whitner, Bills safety
62 John McCargo, Bills defensive tackle
61 Donald Strickland, Jets cornerback (now with Chargers)
44 Phillip Merling, Dolphins defensive end