Peyton Manning grades Tom Brady, Derwin James Jr. and others as Madden ratings adjuster

  • Previously covered University of Michigan for ESPN.com and AnnArbor.com
  • Also covered Notre Dame for Fort Wayne Journal Gazette

Peyton Manning takes football very seriously. You saw it when he played. You heard it in his Hall of Fame speech. And Manning, in a mockumentary-style video released Friday, said it was all leading to one critical goal.

Becoming a Madden ratings adjuster.

Manning is kidding, of course. The ratings adjuster program didn’t begin until 2018, after Manning retired, and didn’t start incorporating former NFL players — Chad Johnson is the most active adjuster of the NFL alumni — until last year. One of the game’s first adjusters was the son of an NFL legend — Barry J. Sanders, a former Stanford running back.

But Manning is now part of that club, much like he is with almost every club having to do with something surrounding professional football.

“I always felt like I wanted more. More rings. More trophies. Of course the jacket. It just wasn’t enough,” Manning deadpanned in the video. “The truth is it was always proving that I had what it took to become a Madden ratings adjuster.”

In the video, he took a shot at Tom Brady’s accuracy ratings, saying they were “just a bit high” and that they were one of the first things he wanted to fix.

In a little more seriousness, Manning became a Madden ratings adjuster and monitored his first game last Sunday between the Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Chargers. He took in the game from the sidelines with his son, and his notes led to a few changes in the game.

He helped upgrade Denver cornerback Patrick Surtain II, a rookie, to an 80 overall — the same grade he helped jump Broncos running back Javonte Williams to, as well. Manning was also impressed by Chargers safety Derwin James Jr. — one of the best Madden players currently active in the NFL — bumping him to a 92 overall.

“When I was playing, Madden NFL ratings were a big topic among the guys in the locker room, and still are today around the league,” Manning said. “I kept an eye on where I landed each year, and the Madden team was mostly accurate during my career, correctly giving me the coveted 99 overall six times.”

Manning, though, can still push for one more thing: Despite being a Hall of Famer and one of the best of his generation, the former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback never appeared on the cover of the game.

Perhaps his new role can one day rectify that, too.

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