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Sunday, April 3, 2011
Two quick updates on 'Madden 12' front

By Mike Sando

A personal aside I shared with Facebook friends several weeks ago:

One day I looked outside my office window and saw our 9- and 6-year-old sons playing football with friends on a modest strip of severely worn grass in our side yard.

Our youngest was standing near one of the make-shift end zones, jumping up and down in an exaggerated fashion. He was raising both knees almost as though he were playing on a trampoline. What was this? Turns out he was "getting hyped" before the opening kickoff, just like the return specialists do in the "Madden" video games.

My wife and I got a good laugh out of that one. It was yet another example of the Madden game's cultural influence. As much as my kids love playing football outside, they learn the game through "Madden." The game has taught them the dangers associated with throwing near Ed Reed in coverage, the tactical trade-offs when playing against a mobile quarterback, how to use timeouts in a 2-minute situation and so much more.

When Matt Hasselbeck threw incomplete in the red zone during a televised game last season, our then-5-year-old turned to my wife and said, "Mom, he should have audibled there."

That's why I was intrigued to see the "Madden" creators saying they wanted to emphasize concussion awareness in the latest version of the game. This is a fantastic idea and not just a politically convenient one. Kids really do learn the game through "Madden." If they see dangerous tactics penalized and concussed players sidelined, they'll accept that as part of the game. They'll take into account ways to avoid concussions -- something I've thought about quite a bit as our 9-year-old has pressed us to play tackle football beginning this summer.

Also on the "Madden" front, we'll find out Monday whether Sam Bradford and Patrick Willis have pulled upsets in the ongoing race to grace the cover of the 2012 game.

Bradford is facing Aaron Rodgers. Willis is facing Hines Ward.

Jon Robinson of The Gamer blog says it's looking as though Michael Vick has more momentum than any other candidate, no surprise to anyone who has played "Madden 11." The game was shipped with Kevin Kolb as the default starter, but every time I see my kids playing the game, the Philadelphia Eagles are on the screen and our oldest has subbed Vick into the starting lineup.

Kids know which players are the most dynamic.

The Bradford-Rodgers winner is likely to face Danny Woodhead in the next round, according to Robinson. If Willis moves past Ward, he'll be facing Vick, most likely.