At last night's Madden Bowl, The Saints faced more possible chicanery.
"You recognize every play that's out there," Drew Brees said early in the evening. "Then you just have to be able to navigate your way around the console."
The New Orleans Saints quarterback was talking about Madden '13, the videogame that has come to be known simply as Madden, and he and Saints tight end Jimmy Graham were on hand at the Bud Light Hotel last night to defend their Madden Bowl championship. Last year, they won it with Tim Tebow as the third member of their team. This year, they had running back Mark Ingram rounding out the trio, but in a move as potentially devastating as Bountygate, their Madden Saints were matched up against the Madden 49ers, whose real counterparts will play in the Super Bowl Sunday.
The 49ers were played by a trio of college all-stars: Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, Oregon running back Kenjon Barner, and Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel. They quickly discovered that while the Saints defense was stouter in Madden than in real life last season, it was just as susceptible to big plays, particularly on third down. Graham ran the Saints' defense and they did, as in real life, manage a goal line stand, and with Brees running the offense, the Saints managed to stay with the college-run Niners.
The players were provided comfy, EA-branded recliners, but in the second half Brees and Graham were standing like five-year-olds just feet from their televisions. After a touchdown, the Saints were seven points behind with a minute on the clock. Graham successfully executed an onside kick to get the ball back, then Brees marched the team down the field for a touchdown to David Thomas (who Brees relied on far more than he does in real life). They went for the two-point conversion instead of the tie, but Brees was sacked while waiting for a receiver to get open. It's tough to repeat.
Also last night
- Big Boi has a new album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors, but his crowd-pleasing set last night spent a lot of time in the Outkast songbook, including "Rosa Parks," "So Fresh, So Clean," "Ghetto Musick," and "Ms Jackson." "I Like the Way You Move" was startlingly physical, with the smooth groove of the recorded version roughed up by a live drummer, his DJ, and Big Boi's own rhythm-oriented delivery. It helped that the sound system's bass response was so pulverizing and tangible that the air was more physical too.
- I almost bumped into Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, which made me feel bad - not because I could have hurt him, but because we're similar heights with similar body builds. He used his to win 80 gold medals (or something like that) while I'm drinking coffee, eating king cake, and curled over a laptop.
- Events like this are often dominated by invitees, and football fanatics get boxed out or relegated to the distant quarters of the room. Last night, a handful of Patriots fans in jerseys stood in front of Pats tight end Rob Gronkowski, adapting the Jets cheer: "P-A-T-S Pats! Pats! Pats!" to get his attention. When they saw Green Bay Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings, they yelled his name until he acknowledged them. Stoked, one turned to the other and said, "That's some sick shit."
- Evidently there are two ways to interview on the red carpet. One is to put a chesty blonde woman out there to get football players attention - Maxim Magazine's strategy - or have Ross Matthews do a stand-up to introduce a segment on Madden Bowl and have some producer do the interviews - E!'s method of choice. Both worked.