Sure, Maurice Jones-Drew drove fantasy owners bonkers by taking a knee at the 1-yard line against the Jets, but he's even more cutthroat when it comes to playing "Madden."
"I've broken off a long run at the end of the game against my buddy, but then I step out of bounds at the 1," Jones-Drew explains. "I was already winning, so I just took two knees to win the game. There's no need to run up the score on someone. And actually, I think taking a knee on someone in 'Madden' hurts more than scoring because when you take a knee, they have to sit there and watch the clock tick down. It's pretty bad. I can get pretty ruthless when it comes to video games."
'MADDEN NFL ARCADE'
Get a first look at EA's "Madden NFL Arcade." Screenshot gallery »
But "Madden" is not the only game that brings out MJD's ruthless behavior. Lately he's been getting into plenty of online shootouts in "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2." "A lot of the guys on the Jaguars are playing it right now," he says. "The action is pretty crazy."
When I get Jones-Drew on the phone from his house, though, it isn't the traditional "Madden" or even "Call of Duty" that has captured his attention. It's the new downloadable 5-on-5 football game called "Madden NFL Arcade," a game packed with power-ups that let you freeze opponents and even run at super speeds down the 60-yard field.
Unfortunately for MJD, there's even a "Game Changer" that switches the score.
"I'm up 28-19 [against Anthony Stevenson of EA Sports], but then somehow a Game Changer comes up where it switches the score, so instead of me driving to win the game, the score changed and now Anthony was up 28-19. Next thing I know, I turn the ball over, Anthony scores and the game is over. I'm a little upset about it right now.
"Putting something like that in a video game that can cause a fight."
Jon Robinson: What do you think of your character in "Madden NFL Arcade"?
Maurice Jones-Drew: I'm pretty decent on there. I'm strong, so I break a lot of tackles. My speed isn't where I think it should be, though. I did run a 4.3 at the combine, so I think I definitely need to be faster than some people who didn't run in the combine.
Robinson: Are you happy with your speed in "Madden NFL 10"?
MJD: It's crazy. No disrespect to these guys because they're good friends of mine, but Devin Hester didn't run faster than me at the combine. Reggie Bush didn't run faster than me on the track. And yet, I'm still slower than them in the video game. I don't understand it. I need to go back and get the numbers and show the world who was the fastest running back who came out that year. I gotta do something. I've never been caught from behind for a reason.
Robinson: What are your thoughts on "Madden NFL Arcade" so far?
MJD: I like it. It definitely has a "Blitz" feel to it. They have all the Game Changers that really switch up the game. You can slow everyone down or speed everyone up. There is a fumble icon that comes up, and if you hit it before the play, when you tackle the runner, he'll fumble the ball. You can even freeze a player on the field and he can't move. And then, like I was talking about earlier, they have the one where you can flip the score and probably start a fight between you and whoever you're playing. [laughs]
Robinson: Which one of these Game Changers would you like to be able to do for real?
MJD: I'd like to freeze people.
Robinson: Anyone in particular you'd like to freeze? Maybe Ray Lewis right before he hits you.
MJD: Maybe Ray or if we were going to pass, I'd like to freeze Ed Reed. It'd make things easier to stop the pass rush if we could freeze a guy like Dwight Freeney or Mario Williams. Or I might just freeze Peyton Manning when he's about to throw.
Robinson: You mentioned earlier how you can't stand your speed in the games. Anything else that bugs you? How about the way you look?
MJD: I love the way I look in the games, especially in "Madden Arcade" because it's fun. We were playing the Jaguars versus the Texans, and you had a guy like Big John Henderson who is really big and wide bigger than you'd think. Then you have Andre Johnson and he's really skinny and tall, and then you have myself who is a little shorter and thicker. They exaggerate the size of players and I think it looks really cool. It brings a different element to the game because they're not trying to make everything exact, it's almost like every player looks like they're standing in front of one of those funny mirrors.
Robinson: The game also reminds me a bit of the old "NFL Street" games. Did you play a lot of street football growing up?
MJD: Oh yeah. I remember this one time this kid ran a route right into one of those PG&E boxes and split his eye open. That was the last time we played there. That PG&E box doesn't move when you hit it. He split his eye and had to get stitches from the top of his eye all the way down to the bottom of his eye. It wasn't good.
Robinson: Have you ever gotten hit so hard in the NFL that it brought back flashes of that PG&E box?
MJD: Nah, they don't hit hard in the NFL. They tickle. [laughs]
Robinson: You're playing "Madden Arcade" with some friends who work at EA. Is this the start of your push to be on the cover of "Madden NFL 11" or are you too freaked out by the Madden Curse and what it did to Troy Polamalu this year to even consider it?
MJD: It's football, man. It's football and you always have the opportunity to get injured knock on wood. Injuries are just a part of the game. There is no curse.
Robinson: Do you want to be on the cover?
MJD: I wouldn't mind it. I'm trying to get some national media down to Jacksonville. A lot of people tend to overlook us because we're not a big media market.
I wouldn't mind [being on the cover of "Madden NFL 11."] I'm trying to get some national media down to Jacksonville. A lot of people tend to overlook us because we're not a big media market.
”-- Maurice Jones-Drew
Robinson: So since nobody is paying attention to the Jags, convince me why I should make them my new "Madden" team.
MJD: We have a lot of playmakers on offense — myself, Torry Holt, Mike Sims-Walker and David Garrard. Then on defense we have Derek Cox and Rashean Mathis with Big John rushing the passer and being our big run-stopper. Then we have Reggie Nelson over the back. I think that is the fastest team you'll ever see. And that's what it's all about in this game. Speed kills.
Robinson: Is there a money play in "Madden NFL 10" that you use with the Jags to help all your fans out there trying to play as your team?
MJD: I actually use the Texans playbook with the Jaguars. There is a play called the Y Trail that works every time in the red zone. It's unstoppable.
Robinson: So your money play doesn't even involve your player in any way?
MJD: This is just such a tremendous play because if the defense plays man, the drag route will be open. If they play zone, the drag route will pull the linebacker out of the way and the trail route becomes open.
Robinson: EA is already working on "Madden NFL 11." Is there anything you'd like to see changed in the new game?
MJD: To me, I just try to adapt to whatever changes they make. I'm like a giraffe. A long time ago, giraffes had short necks, but the food they eat is on the tall trees, so they adapted to their environment in order to survive. So now they have those long necks. That's what I do with "Madden." I adapt. Whatever they do to change the game, I adapt. It doesn't bother me. That's just the type of gamer I am. You can throw anything at me and I'll adapt. Just like "Madden Arcade," I started playing and I was destroying this man until he was able to switch the score on me. I still can't believe they put that in there. I think he was putting codes in the whole time, but it's all good.
Robinson: A lot of people call you the Human Pinball. Wouldn't Human Video Game be even better?
MJD: Or they can just call me Qin Clay. That's my Gamertag [on Xbox Live]. It means "beast" in Japanese.
Robinson: You sure you want to release your Gamertag to the masses like this?
MJD: If people jump on and want to get whupped, no big deal. [laughs]