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Should You Be Mad About Your ‘Madden’ Rating? An NFL Players’ Guide.

‘Madden 20’ released its player grades on Monday. The reactions were all over the map. From Aaron Rodgers to Keenan Allen, we offer a breakdown of who has a legitimate gripe and who doesn’t.

Getty Images/Ringer illustration

Every summer, the calm of the NFL offseason is abruptly disturbed by a seemingly innocuous announcement: the unveiling of Madden’s NFL player ratings. The exceedingly popular video game franchise has improved its gameplay and meticulously fine-tuned its grading system over the years to establish itself as the football game in the business (though eliminating all of its competition certainly helped). Now, to a degree that no other ranking could rival, Madden’s ratings annually open the floodgates for debates and overreactions as to the hierarchy of players heading into an upcoming NFL season.

Some players laugh off the grades being handed out by the developers and happily accept an extra check, but there are far more who take offense to the game’s apparent show of disrespect. So who is right to gripe with the Madden 20 player ratings? Without further ado, let’s run through some of the biggest debates and reactions surrounding Monday’s announcement and determine whether the players and their fans should be upset with this year’s grades.

Aaron Rodgers

Rating: 90

Of all the debates that the Madden 20 ratings prompted, Rodgers’s ranking as the seventh-best quarterback in the league has been the source of the most outrage. The Packers star was one of only two QBs to receive the maximum 99 rating in Madden 19 (along with Tom Brady), and a year later the two-time MVP has fallen below Patrick Mahomes II (97), Brady (96), Philip Rivers (94), Drew Brees (92), Andrew Luck (92), and Russell Wilson (91). Crucially, he’s still a few spots ahead of Andy Dalton (80).

Packers fans are furious about the grade, but Rodgers’s completion percentage has dipped in recent years, and in 2018 Green Bay finished 6-9-1 despite the quarterback starting all 16 games. Still, there’s no need to R-E-L-A-X: Would you really take six QBs before Rodgers for this season?

Should He Be Upset? Yes. I’m sure a few of his signature Hail Mary throws will restore the natural pecking order soon enough.

Keenan Allen

Rating: 89

“Bro, who’s making this shit, dawg?!” The Chargers wide receiver was upset with virtually every single aspect of his rating, and I’m here for it. His 89 overall grade ranks 13th at his position, a mark that seems low for a guy who’s coming off back-to-back Pro Bowl seasons in which he racked up at least 97 catches and 1,100 yards. He took particular umbrage with Madden’s assessment of his route running, which … Keenan, we agree.

You also have to respect Allen for verbalizing the Kermit-sipping-tea meme while taking a drink from his Jamba Juice smoothie. Excellent form.

Should he be upset? Yes. This clip can serve as a refresher.

DeMarcus Lawrence

Rating: 89

Lawrence got a big payday in April after being given the franchise tag the previous month, so you’d imagine the Cowboys’ sixth-year defensive end must be happy these days, right? Well, not after Monday, at least:

Lawrence not only went all-caps on Twitter; he also broke out the infamous Birdman quote and called for a boycott of the game. He wasn’t done:

The Boise State product ranks sixth in the league in sacks over the last two seasons and recently said that he wants to be “the best that’s ever played this game.” Clearly, the game he was referring to wasn’t Madden.

Should he be upset? Yes. Lawrence’s Madden grade should be higher than his jersey number.

The Entire Bears Roster

Several teams released reaction videos to the Madden 20 ratings, and the best one belonged to the Chicago Bears. Backup quarterback Chase Daniel played the classic guess-your-rating game with Tarik Cohen, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Jackson, Allen Robinson, and Patrick Scales. As Daniel went down the line, each player’s guesses came in (naturally) higher than their actual Madden ratings. Cohen was fine with his 92-grade speed, but felt wronged by his weak throwing power; Hicks said he felt disrespected by his sub-90 overall score, but conceded that he was on board with his team-high power rating. (“You’re damn right, I lift!”) The first four players quizzed all expressed that they felt undervalued. Then came Scales, the long snapper, who’d spent nearly the first five minutes of the video in complete silence.

After waiting politely for his turn, Scales said that he should get a modest 70 rating. He was quickly informed that he was ranked as a 39, the worst player on Chicago’s team. Just look at this face:

This is the toughest possible look for my guy. I’d probably just retire.

Should they be upset? Yes. Cohen should be especially heated about his throwing power grade. Let’s revisit this beauty.

The 2019 Rookie Class

Rookies have no frame of reference for what their Madden rating will be. Take Giants quarterback and draft-day darling Daniel Jones’s personal estimate of his grade: “I don’t know. I’m a rookie. Maybe high 70s, low 80s?” The former Duke QB is a 63. But don’t worry, Daniel: You’re still a 100 in Dave Gettleman’s eyes.

Jones is far from alone in feeling slighted. Cardinals quarterback and no. 1 overall draft pick Kyler Murray was humbled by his 73 rating. Bears third-rounder David Montgomery said he thought he should be a 93. (He’s, uh, not.) Patriots wideout N’Keal Harry, meanwhile, was just amazed that he’s in the game at all: “I’m on Madden,” Harry said. “This is crazy.”

Should they be upset? Sure. Haven’t you heard about how Jones is turning heads in practice?

Eli Manning

Rating: 72

Manning is a two-time Super Bowl champion and a noted Patriots slayer. He is a model of durability, having started 210 consecutive games between 2004 and 2017. He has thrown 360 career touchdown passes, eighth in NFL history. And now the 38-year-old is the lowest ranked starting quarterback in Madden 20, at a lowly 72.

Let’s go to the 2018 game tape and … ah, it appears that his former star receiver could out-throw him last season. Sorry, Eli. A 72 seems right.

Should he be upset? No. Insert Manning Face GIF here.