If you’re anything like me, you love the Madden hit stick. The satisfaction of landing a big hit on a wide receiver jarring the ball loose for an incompletion, or nailing a running back and forcing a fumble all with the flick of a thumb is such an honor (thank you creators of Madden). The first time I used it, I was like a little kid who was just given a new Star Wars toy. Just like I abused my Star Wars Millennium Falcon, I also abused the Madden hit stick. I used it constantly; I’m talking every play.
And, if you’re anything like me, you rarely made contact with the hit stick. Was it just me or did it seem like every time you used it, your player completely whiffed the ball carrier, and he proceeded to gain an extra five yards? Maybe I was just bad with it, but that didn’t stop me from using it. A few broken controllers and hundreds of cuss words later, I still adore the Madden hit stick-no matter how frustrating it can be.
The reason is simple: when you do make contact, when everything comes together– your mind, body, sweat , thumb, controller, Xbox 360, Madden—when all those things come together, and you land the perfect hit, it’s probably one of the most rewarding experiences the Madden game has to offer. You feel like a man; you then proceed to shout like a man—you are a man.
Now let’s step back from the video game of Madden and look at the NFL. In the midst of the passing craze that has dazzled the league, my inner-Madden- hit stick craving self wants to yell at Mr. Roger Goodell himself.
“Mr. Goodell, you not allowing a safety to make a hit on a wide receiver over the middle of the field, or allowing a defensive end to hit a quarterback leading with his helmet is like taking out the hit stick in Madden.”
After he recovered from passing out in shock (taking out the hit stick in Madden is considered blasphemous), he would quickly change the bogus rule that has been implemented to protect offensive players.
But things aren’t that way, and there’s a reason for that.
You see, my brother and I are like any average guys. We fight (For the record, I win), we eat, and we watch football. When we do watch football, it’s similar to your average watch party—a little back and forth banter, nothing special. But there’s one thing we almost always manage to say once every football game.
“Wow, that’s a bogus call.” Of course, we say that almost ten times, but we always say it at least once when a lineman or a safety is called for leading with the helmet.
And if my dad is with us, after the call is made, we usually come to a general consensus, “football is becoming a wimp’s sport.” (This is the G version)
We don’t take into the consideration the danger a player that leads with his helmet is in; we don’t think about all the injuries that have occurred because a player led with his helmet; we don’t think.
We want to see the big hit. The violence. The potential to rattle the ball loose. We are savages. We want to see the player yell after making the hit. We want to yell with them.
We forget everything about the safety of the players, the importance of a person, and instead we think of ourselves and our entertainment. It’s pathetic. I’m pathetic. My brother and dad are pathetic. We think that a player might be injured and soon be able to get back up. And that’s a sad belief.
When you look at the cover of Sports Illustrated, you will see a picture of Eric LeGrand, a Rutgers player who was paralyzed from the neck down because he tried to tackle leading with his helmet. The picture is of him returning to the Rutgers football field before the game starts (the actual injury is in the video below.)
Looking at the picture and watching the play makes me realize something that I will always try to remember when I think there is a bogus leading with the helmet call: the players out on the field are more than just a video game player, they are a human being.