Raiders rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper in Madden 16
For the Oakland Raiders rookies, 2015 is a year of firsts – their first NFL practice, their first time running out of the tunnel at O.co Coliseum, and now this week, their first time seeing themselves in the popular Madden NFL video game.
"I've had a lot of my friends from back home and college texting me and facetiming me saying they've been playing with me and all that stuff," said rookie defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. "It's kind of fun."
Fellow rookie, linebacker Ben Heeney, took to social media and also shared a similar experience, with friends from home sending him photos and texts of him in the game.
"A bunch of my friends from home posted on Facebook or sent me videos and texted me about just playing with me," Heeney said. "A couple of guys said they forced some fumbles with me and made some big plays, so that was really cool."
Since its debut in 1988, the Madden franchise has grown from just a videogame to a part of popular culture, with people from all walks of life picking up the controllers and playing.
Rookie guard, Jon Feliciano, a self-proclaimed Madden fanatic, actually spent a recent afternoon building his Madden team in franchise mode.
"I actually had a fantasy draft and I usually get all my [University of Miami] Hurricane friends and teammates, so I did all that," Feliciano said.
He did admit though, that building his team and seeing his name appear was a thrill.
"It's crazy," Feliciano said. "I always made a fake version, putting my name on [a player] and stuff, but now, being in the game it's kind of crazy."
As far as the best Madden player on the team though, that debate rages on.
"Probably it would have to be [Derek] Carr," Edwards Jr said, when asked about the best player on the team. "Carr, the quarterback of course, [Amari Cooper] Coop and probably [Justin] Tuck on defense. I think those would be the best ones."
However, Feliciano begs to differ, saying he is "definitely" the best Madden player on the team.
"I'll easily beat Derek," Feliciano said. "I haven't played him yet, but I'm on another level."
According to the Madden 16 player ratings, Amari Cooper is the highest-rated overall rookie in the game, but some of his teammates are not as content with the way the game graded them out.
"My overall is like a 64 or 65," Feliciano said. "They have my vertical really high for some reason. I don't have a high [vertical], but I'll take that."
Heeney was also not pleased with his rating, but is using the slight as motivation.
"They have me ranked as a 60-something," Heeney said. "I'm not a 60, I just have to make some more plays and hopefully my ratings will go up."
According to Madden 16, here are the rankings of some of the other Raiders:
Linebacker Khalil Mack – 91 OVR
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree – 82 OVR
Linebacker Sio Moore – 80 OVR
Quarterback Derek Carr – 79 OVR
Running Back Latavius Murray – 78 OVR