Can a video game predict the future?
The "Madden NFL" franchise has a long history of accurate simulations, including correct predictions on seven of the last nine Super Bowl winners.
So what happens when I plug free agent wide receiver Brandon Lloyd into the Patriots lineup for the upcoming season, a team Lloyd has not tried to hide his interest in?
Not only do the virtual Patriots end up winning the Super Bowl, but Lloyd scores 12 touchdowns and leads the league in yards per catch.
That's what happens when the receiver with the 99 spectacular-catch rating is teamed with Tom Brady, the quarterback with 95 throwing power and 97 accuracy.
"That's awesome," Lloyd says with a laugh when I tell him about my simulation. "When I was a kid, I would always create my own character in 'Madden' and I would put myself on different teams to see what I would look like and if I could envision myself playing on a specific team. But now, after hearing those stats, maybe 'Madden' could convince me playing on a specific team.
"It would also be interesting to see how I do with Cam Newton. Put me on the Panthers and see how I do in the simulation."
Teaming B-Lloyd with Cam Newton turns into career highs in receiving yards (1,486) and touchdowns (14) for Lloyd as they help Carolina to the wild card.
"You might be on to something with these simulations," says Lloyd. "It's pretty fun to see what might happen."
Jon Robinson: You're one of 64 players picked to be involved in the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote. What's it like knowing that fans could vote to put you on the cover of the game you grew up playing?
Brandon Lloyd: It's a dream come true. I've always wondered how the process worked and why they pick certain players, so I think it's awesome that EA Sports is now letting the fans be a part of it. It starts with 64, then with each round, they narrow down the list until you have that one guy who will be on the cover. It's exciting to be involved, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.
Jon Robinson: Are you scared of the "Madden" curse?
Brandon Lloyd: A little bit. [laughs] I acknowledge the curse, but I think since this is "Madden 13," the 13 is going to curse the curse. A double curse will actually reverse the curse into a positive, so whoever ends up on this cover is actually going to have the greatest year of their career. Whoever is on the over this year is going to break records and make history. Curse the curse.
Jon Robinson: You're going against Chris Long in the teammate versus teammate play-in round. Why should people vote for you over Chris?
Brandon Lloyd: That's tough because he's my homie. Chris is that pass-rushing sack machine and the son of all-time great Howie Long, while I'm an outstanding receiver with 99 spectacular catch who is super fast. I think it's going to be close, but Chris might have the heads up because he's Howie's boy.
Jon Robinson: I know that beyond "Madden," you're a big video game fan. What are you playing lately?
Brandon Lloyd: I can't stop playing "NBA 2K12." What I do is, I take the worst team in the NBA, which is the Charlotte Bobcats this year, then I totally dismantle the team and try to assemble a team I can win with through trades and the draft. I have Steve Nash as my point guard, I traded for Chris Bosh, and under my control, Corey Maggette is leading the league in scoring. I also have this created D-league player who I signed as my shooting guard, and he can ball. I'm just hooked on playing franchise mode in that game.
Jon Robinson: Are you playing anything else?
Brandon Lloyd: I play "2K" on my 360, then on my PlayStation 3 all I'm playing right now is "Uncharted 3." I love that series. I beat the first two, and I love how each game has its own little surprise to try and scare you. Those zombies from the first game freaked me out. [laughs] This game is nasty. It's like playing a movie. I'm at the point right now in the third game where I'm underground and the spiders are jumping out at me. I keep wondering if the zombies are going to come back from the first game. I don't know what's going to happen next, but I'm anticipating something big.
Jon Robinson: Beyond just playing games, what people might not realize is that you've also written some music that has been featured in games like "NBA Ballers" and "NPPL Championship Paintball." Are you still interested in contributing music to games?
Brandon Lloyd: Definitely. I love making music, and being that I'm such a huge gamer, I recognize what a big part the music is to a game in helping to tell the story. I love being involved in that and help setting the vibe for video games. So right now, I'm still working on music and I'm working on a variety of partnerships and licensing deals with developers so I can create original tracks for video games and continue to fatten up my catalog.
Jon Robinson: In the meantime, you're one of the most sought-after wide receivers in free agency. When making the choice of what team to play on, what's the biggest factor in your mind?
Brandon Lloyd: The fit is going to be the key. I'm going into my 10th season and I haven't been to the playoffs yet, so I think this is my time and my chance. Thankfully, I'm in the position where I'm a highly coveted receiver, so I feel like this time around, the really good teams are going to look at me and pick me in order to help them advance further in the playoffs.
Jon Robinson: You haven't hidden the fact that you wouldn't mind playing for your former coach, Josh McDaniels, who is now the Patriots' offensive coordinator. What is it about his coaching style that seems to bring out the best in your ability?
Brandon Lloyd: He has confidence in me. I feel like some of the offensive coordinators in my past might say they had confidence in me, but then on Sunday, they wouldn't give me the plays that would allow me to be successful. So I just think it was a lack of opportunities on my previous teams, and then when I got to Denver, Coach McDaniels actually gave me the looks on Sunday that let me perform like one of the better wide receivers in the league.
Jon Robinson: The "Madden" team obviously believes in you as well, giving you that coveted 99 spectacular-catch rating and putting you in the cover vote. When you make a great catch in real life, do you ever get up and yell, "Yeah, that's why I'm 99, baby!" That's what I'd do.
Brandon Lloyd: I will now. [laughs] It's funny because that has never been a part of "Madden," really, until recently, as now they are not only adding more player ratings into the game, but they are incorporating more of your signature moves and how you actually play into the game. And to look at the game after all those years of playing and creating myself, and to know somebody else gave me that 99, that's sweet. I love how my guy plays in "Madden." I can throw to myself all day.
To vote for Brandon Lloyd and help him advance to the next round of the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote, head to the official ESPN SportsNation Facebook page and cast your vote today.