Sports Redef

sports + biz + culture + life
Get REDEF delivered to your inbox

rantnrave:// EA Sports’ Madden NFL 18 dropped, and the new feature everyone’s buzzing about is its longshot mode, the new narrative feature that follows Devin Wade as he reaches for football stardom. It’s a playable movie within a video game, like a first-person narrative arc found in role-playing games. Waypoint’s Mike Piellucci calls it the evolution of sports video games. Each new edition of Madden needs something other than updated rosters to get people to buy it, and storytelling has been a missing keystone for sports games. Graphics have progressed to an unreal place. Game play is great. Adding a long story arc for players to invest in is a differentiating factor from past years. Can it reel in non-sports fans? Will the inclusion of a narrative mode make it into the football game for Friday Night Lights fans? Probably not. But it’s the natural extension of where games have been headed, from create-a-player mode, in which you can build and customize new players, to an earlier EA creation, FIFA 17’s The Journey, that followed a soccer player as his career progressed. Longshot isn’t flawless. It lacks subtlety. Maybe there will be other hiccups. But EA is trying something new, and innovation isn’t perfect. … Paying midtier starting quarterbacks in the NFL is damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Can’t win with them. Can’t win without them. Matthew Stafford is football’s highest-paid player. He doesn’t deserve it on merit, but so goes the NFL’s complex contract structure, in which position and timing matter most. He’s probably not a top-10 QB. But letting a good starting QB walk is a non-starter, especially for a playoff contender. The best way to set your team up for a Super Bowl is with a good QB. The best way to box yourself in is by paying a good QB a bloated salary that prevents you from building around him. Think of the Ravens after they re-signed Joe Flacco. Or why the Redskins are going year-to-year with Kirk Cousins. The only good QB contracts are the ones for stars like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. Every other team has to decide whether its QB is good enough to overpay. … That awkward moment when your teammate rips your shoes and the brand paying you $300 million to be the face of the company. … Cena vs. Reigns on the mic. No holds barred. Did they break kayfabe? … Smart move by Snap to bring its Spectacles to the US Open. Always a great experience and visuals. Fodder for snaps. … Major League Lacrosse has a data security problem. … Fifty-one years ago at Candlestick Park. … Bawitdaba da bang da bang Brady?

What if college players followed Kaepernick’s lead? They might find they have real power

The events in Charlottesville and the current climate of political polarization have spurred athletic departments to prepare to deal with protest.
Dan Wolken | USA TODAY

The future of EA Sports is storytelling

What Telltale did for the adventure game, EA wants to do for the sports narrative.
Mike Piellucci | Waypoint

An oral history of the biggest upset in college football history: Appalachian State 34 Michigan 32

Come celebrate the 10-year anniversary of one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
Cyrus Smith | Underdog Dynasty

The shadow world of minor league football

In minor league football, the battle is about a lot more than moving the ball downfield.
Rick Bass | Texas Monthly

Meet Larry Nelson

How a 21-year-old Vietnam War veteran picked up a golf club and played his way into the World Golf Hall of Fame.
JK Nickell | Southwest: The Magazine


“It’s not enough to be smart. You have to be curious.”

Get REDEF delivered to your inbox