EDITOR’S NOTE: This roster is exclusive to the PlayStation4. Also, more teams have been added!
Honestly, I’ve never been a huge Madden player. I was when I was a kid, but only for a stretch of about a year. Madden 2006 (with Donovan McNabb on the cover) was one of my favorite sports games growing up. I know most people love the ones with Ray Lewis or Michael Vick on the covers, but the final version released before the Xbox 360/PS3 transition will always hold a special place in my heart. Since then, I’ve mostly stayed away from playing Madden altogether — not on purpose, I simply grew out of that phase. I never played much football growing up so my IQ for the sport is below average. And when you’re getting waxed up 49-10, the game stops being as much fun to play.
That was probably because I spent my time trying to run back 100-yard kick returns in practice and creating fictional players with plus-90 ratings to help me win some games against the computer. But that’s just how I made the game entertaining for myself. Today, I’m still not a great Madden player, but I’m getting better. Watching my roommate Nate play Draft Champions multiple times a week made me want to bring NFL legends back to their old stomping grounds. Seeing him and his opponents boasting teams with Marshall Faulk, Brian Dawkins, and Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson took me back to the good ol’ days when hits were still hard and celebrations were hilariously legal.
So I started making a roster: an all-star roster that blends together the best overall players from all generations to create a super team for many of the NFL’s cities. With 20 historic teams in all, I wanted to feature franchises from each region of the country to spread out fandom as much as possible. I grew up loving the Pittsburgh Steelers watching them with my mom so I had to have them in there. My brother is a Browns fan; his wife is a Redskins fan and my dad is a Bengals fan; my roommate’s favorite team is the Eagles. I wanted to include all of their favorite teams. So the idea of categorizing the teams I created stemmed from that and I went from there. My roster consists of all four AFC North, NFC East, AFC South, and NFC West franchises. In addition, many of the league’s most popular teams like the 49ers, Cowboys, and Giants fit within those divisions so it all seemed to come together nicely.
I have made rosters in the past except they’ve all been on NBA 2K. My 2000’s-era roster from 2K13 is my “Starry Night” of sorts. Seeing legends get the video game glory they deserve makes me smile; I can’t really explain it. Attention to detail is one of my obsessions. If I’m going to make an intensive historic roster, then it better be the best one out there. That’s just how I roll. To give you an idea of what to expect (if you so choose to download it), I’ll take you through my creation process. First, I pull up four tabs on my phone: one for Google Images for player attire and skin tone match; one for Pro-Football-Reference.com for player stats and accolades; one for Ranker.com to conveniently identify the best players to ever pad up for a certain franchise; and finally, one for a random Google search to look up players’ hometowns, high schools, and alternate jersey numbers. In Madden 17, there is a created player limit that stops around 70. After I reached the cap, I was forced to find existing players with similar height, weight, skin tone, and hair and then alter their bio information and stats to match what I deemed as their Relative Legend Rating.
I adopted 2K’s rating system where there is only one player that can be 99 in something. The main difference between my roster rating system and 2K’s is that their system is based on attributes and mine is ranked by position. I tried to limit as many 99 overall players as possible to give my thoughts on who I think is the best at their position. But since creating this roster was a learning experience for me, seeing as I’m getting to know most of these players for the first time without ever witnessing them play, I used their stats, Pro Bowl appearances, All-Pro nominations, NFL Films videos, and YouTube highlights to draw the best conclusions I could.
Typically, players who have one Pro Bowl appearance have a floor of an 85 overall rating. Some players are lower because they have never reached that plateau, but almost all players I adjusted or created are 78 or higher. The players who are currently at their peak and have a dope rating on Madden naturally were not adjusted. Players like Odell Beckham, AJ Green, and Calais Campbell don’t deserve to be lowered just because I’m making this roster. However, all the legends that I made have relative scores compared to the best at their position. There can be multiple 98-rated players at a position such as Joe Greene of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Merlin Olsen of the LA Rams. But, clearly, Reggie White takes the cake at defensive tackle.
Something you’ll discover is that some players are representing teams they never actually played for such as Johnny Unitas being the Ravens’ quarterback and Warren Moon playing for the Texans. There’s a logic behind this. Both the Texans and Ravens are expansion teams that don’t have long history supporting them. However, since Unitas technically played his best years for the city of Baltimore as did Moon for Houston, I placed them on those franchises to disperse the talent evenly. The Colts have “The Sheriff” aka Peyton Manning under center so why would they ever need Johnny? The Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee in the late 90’s ultimately becoming the Titans. Steve “Air” McNair took the Titans all the way to the Super Bowl in 2000 and deserves to lead Tennessee as their quarterback. The Texans, on the other hand, only have Matt Schaub to put out there as their all-time best QB — I just couldn’t have that. He’s still the back-up, though.
In the roster, you’ll notice that some players have different jersey numbers than what they currently or historically have. This is due to how many players have worn the same jersey number over the decades. Players such as Anquan Boldin, Mario Williams, and Johnathan Cyprien among others rock their collegiate numbers to pay homage to those who came before them. Doug Baldwin reverts back to his rookie 15 jersey so that fellow receiver Brian Blades can wear number 89. Also, a few players have hair that is not historically associated with them. “Mean” Joe Greene, Cardinals receiver Mel Gray, and Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu all have longer hair than what they actually sport. These minor flaws I did not realize until later on when I spectated games between teams I had just finished. It’s a little lazy, I know, but I kinda like that there are a few quirky alterations so I decided to keep them as they were.
Additionally, some elite current players were stricken by injury such as Earl Thomas and JJ Watt. Because Madden does not allow you to take players off of Injury Reserve, I had to copy their stats over and replicate them as best I could. The good thing about football is that players are covered by face masks so their facial features don’t always have to be exact to look authentic.
So yeah, there ya have it. I’ve officially spent way too much time on this. But, again, for whatever reason, this type of stuff is in my blood. I love doing it and I love sharing my work with all who want to partake in it. So if you’re a hardcore Madden player (on PS4) or know one, give my roster a try. Go to the Customize Roster tab at the far right of the main menu. Select Share & Manage Files. Then select Download Community Files. Hit R1 to get to the Roster section and search for: “LEGACY”. My roommate’s gamertag (the PlayStation is his and he’s awesome for letting me use it so much) is: “GoBiasInd5” so when you see that in the description box you’ll know you’ve got the correct roster. Load that bitch up and enjoy! I hope you have fun playing with the 20 teams I’ve curated. Browse the gallery above to peep the top players for each respective squad! Thank you for reading, I truly appreciate your time.