I really love to play dynasty mode in all of my EA Sports franchises. So, when the fine folks asked me to put together my ultimate team, I quickly shot back a note that said, "I will take the 2013 LSU Tigers."
But then they pointed out that I could use actual NFL players and some legends to build the "Ultimate Super Bowl" team. I once again submitted the 2013 LSU Tigers because some of those legends had to be in their 60s. But I was told that the legends would be in their prime and ready to go, so that required a little bit more thought. So, I spent a lot of time on this, and I believe that I have put together the greatest collection of talent, ever.
So, I humbly submit to you my "Ultimate Super Bowl" team. Please read at least 18 percent of it before you call me an idiot. Thanks in advance.
Quarterback: Joe Montana
I know, I know. To a lot of you kids, he's the dude stealing free pizza in the Papa John's commercials...or wearing questionable shoes...or showing off those gaudy Super Bowl rings to his pals Herschel Walker, Doug Flutie and Bo Jackson. (I like to imagine those four dudes just hang out all the time after the season, too. Like they gather every week to watch "The Flash" or something. Though, Montana also strikes me as a "New Girl" fan, too.) But since this is the "Ultimate Super Bowl" team, it stands to reason I would take the ultimateSuper Bowl quarterback. Nobody was better in the big game than Montana. He threw 68 touchdown passes and no interceptions in four Super Bowl games. You might want to check my math on that, but I'm pretty sure that's accurate.
Besides, Montana basically ruined my childhood when he threw two 90-yard bombs to John Taylor against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football. So, it will be nice to have him on my side for a change. He also made life miserable for my dad, who was a lifelong Chicago Bears fan. We always bonded in our mutual disdain for the 49ers, so I guess I owe it to Montana.
The only other option here is John Elway, whose attributes, including his running, are off the charts. But Montana was more mobile than people give him credit for. Look at the way he scrambled during "The Catch." (Google it, kids.) That play launched a dynasty.
My backup quarterback will be Michael Vick (current version, kids. The 2004 Vick wasn't an option. I asked). He's still got some great attributes, and I might be able to wrinkle in some plays for him. Besides, as a lefty, I like to use southpaw quarterbacks. Of course, Steve Young could be an option here, but Young proved in the past that he can't be trusted as Montana's backup. I don't want any sort of drama behind me.
And credit to those on Twitter who suggested Andy Dalton. The Rank-and-File are the best followers on Twitter. You men and women rule.
Running back: Walter Payton
Again, the theme here is "Ultimate Super Bowl," so I'm going to make the easy call with Payton; and I'm going to give him the ball every time he gets near the goal-line. My dad went to the grave upset Payton didn't get a touchdown in Super Bowl XX. I would like to believe he cursed Ditka with his final words. I know, I know, Mike Ditka has apologized and everything, but there are legions of Bears fans who will never forget. Nor should they. Well, maybe they should. It was the Bears' only Super Bowl title.
I'm going to back up Walter with Matt Forte. Not that Walter needs a third-down replacement. Walter was a really good all-around back who excelled at everything, including pass blocking. I would imagine if the ratings could exceed 99, Payton would be 120.
But Forte has all of the all-around skills you need to be successful in Madden, too. He can come in to give Payton a breather here and there, but not near the end zone. I will call a timeout if Payton is too winded. If Forte gets out on a breakaway from 80 yards away, I might even have him run out of bounds. I've met Matt a couple of times and he seems like he would be cool with this. In fact, I'll ask him the next time I get a chance.
Reece is underrated and does a really good job for the Raiders. Plus, I couldn't have a Packer like John Kuhn blocking for a couple of Bears. That just wouldn't work. I also thought of Franco Harris as a fullback because there are some lunatic Steelers fans who thought he was better than Walter. (Just as I'm sure there are people who prefer Kirkland soda to Pepsi.) But that's lunacy. So, I thought it would serve him right to have him be Walter's fullback. But then I could see him missing a block or something crazy to spite him, and I can't have that.
William Perry was also an option, but there is no way I'm going to risk that (expletive) here. Sorry, Fridge, I need to leave you at home. I can't tempt the coaches.
Rice seems like the obvious choice for obvious reasons, so I won't spend too much time on that selection. I will say I toyed with the idea of going with Michael Irvin here seeing that a.) I work with him; b.) He was pretty awesome; and 3.) Rice already had his time with Montana. Let Irvin have some fun, too. But then I realized the Internet would literally (not figuratively, literally) burn to the ground if I did that.
Megatron is another obvious choice, too. He opened the season with a 98 catch rating and a 99 spectacular catch rating, so let's not be foolish with this one. Besides, can you imagine if teams had to roll coverage towards Rice and left Johnson one-on-one with a corner? There would be no stopping him.
OBJ might be less obvious. You will have the older generation of folks who will look at the list of available legends and wonder why I would go with this guy who has played just an amazing handful of games. To which I would ask: did you see those amazing games? I feel like OBJ was the first player in history born to be a Madden player. Everything he does is ridiculous, and he just keeps getting better. I'm throwing him in the slot and will let him run wild. Plus, I just won the Heisman Trophy with him on "NCAA 14." Or it was LSU WR No. 3.
Tight end: Kellen Winslow Sr.
I was tempted to go with Ditka from the list of legends, but as recounted before, this is the "Ultimate Super Bowl" team, and Ditka's transgression against Walter gets him dropped from consideration. And I don't feel bad about it. So, I'm going with Winslow. He was probably better than Ditka anyway, and would have an easier time with the transition to the modern game. Plus, you'll want to Google Winslow and the 1981 AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Dolphins. Dude was sick. Both literally and figuratively. Besides, this is a great opportunity to get Winslow to the Super Bowl, which he never did in San Diego.
We need him on this roster, and I don't want to get him into any trouble with him or the Saints, so I won't call him a "tight end," per say. I will go with "pass catcher" here. Wow, can you imagine a two-tight end, errrrrrrrrr, a formation with TE Winslow and PC Graham? That would be unstoppable.
There are a lot of great options from the legends, but all-star crews can sometimes fail rather miserably. I lived through the Karl Malone/Gary Payton experiment with the Lakers, and it wasn't too much fun. (Though, in fairness, that Lakers team would have won the title if Malone had been healthy. In hindsight, I'm secretly glad it didn't work out for the hated Malone. I guess that isn't much of a secret anymore.) Or a more recent example would be the first year of the Miami Heat with LeBron James. It takes time for these teams to work together. I can't risk that.
As for the defense, well, I hate playing defense so I really don't care. Just kidding. Barely. I'm going to put this team together, too.
I really hate the cliché, "he was a man amongst boys," but if it ever applied to one player, it would be Jones. He stood 6-foot-5, which would make him big by today's standards even. He had these monstrous hands he used to toss aside offensive linemen like they were tackling dummies, and he even coined the phrase "sack" for good measure. I often wonder if some of the old-school guys could make it in the current NFL. I have no doubt Jones would have made the transition.
And then you put him with Watt on the other end? Do you remember that scene in "The Waterboy" where the third-string quarterback beseeched Bobby Boucher to leave him alone? I feel a lot of quarterbacks would feel the same way going up against Jones and Watt.
Be honest. You already had a nasty tweet in your mind to send to me because I picked Watt over White. I'm pretty confident somebody probably stopped reading about midway through the Deacon Jones rant to go down into the comment section to question how I even have this job. (Here's a hint: I applied for it.) But I wasn't going to leave White off this team. He even played some defensive tackle during his career, so this isn't a complete stretch. It's not like I've tried to jam him in at linebacker or something.
Wilfork is a fun selection for me because I like to have one of those huge run-clogging defensive tackles in the middle. Wilfork can eat up a bunch of space as Jones, Watt and White get after the quarterback. Plus, he stopped to help a lady on the side of the road after the AFC Championship Game. I like character guys on this team.
I've leaned on the legends a lot here, but I'm going new school with this one. As a quick aside, Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher were not options. But Patrick Willis entered 2014 as the highest-rated MLB in the game. The dude has a 90 SPD rating. How can you not want him on your team? Kuechly was equally ridiculous. He had a 99 TAK and 99 PUR. And then you have White and Wilfork clogging things up in front of them to watch them work? Nice.
A lot of people who I respect consider LT the greatest player in NFL history. He completely changed the way the game was played. He turned the NFL upside down the moment he set foot on the field. I just kind of picked Miller to go along with him because it just doesn't really matter at this point.
Sacks weren't considered an official statistic until 1982 (his rookie season). Deacon Jones would have retired as the all-time leader, but Taylor surpassed him. I don't know how opposing defenses could survive with these two guys on the field.
A small note, too. Taylor once beat Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania, which might be the biggest mind-blowing part of his career. But then again, Vince McMahon loves to put celebrities over his own superstars, so it's not that big of a shock. Well, at least he didn't win the WCW title or anything like that.
The added bonus here is his ability to return punts, too. As much as people talk about his covering skills, it was his ability as a punt returner that first wowed me. I probably went to more L.A. Rams games against the Falcons than any other team. And while I was somewhat morose when the Rams had to punt, it did mean the opportunity to see Deion return the kicks. You know what? I'm going to have him return kickoffs, too.
The thought struck me at one point this season when teams started to avoid Richard Sherman, but he's kind of like a Deion Sanders who can tackle. I'm probably not the first person to come up with that observation. Wait, let me check on that. Google didn't turn up anything, so maybe if you use that description during your Super Bowl party you can throw me a bone? Although, there has to be one guy out there who will be all, "I've been saying that for years." Fine, fine.
Safeties: Ronnie Lott, Rod Woodson
Montana gets a lot of credit for the 49ers success, and rightfully so. But Lott was just as important on the defensive side of the field. The 49ers dynasty was on the cusp in 1981, but it was the addition of Lott (and guys like Eric Wright and Fred Dean) who really cemented things. That 49ers defense of the 1980s was often overlooked because the offense was so good. But make no mistake, Lott and those 49ers players were straight-up trouble. Lott was even a little banana-pants, too. He once chopped off part of his pinky so he could play in the playoffs. Wow.
Woodson played safety to extend his career, and he was pretty good at it. Come to think of it, he was an excellent return man in his own right. Woodson did it so well for so long, he's an easy pick for me here. Kam Chancellor will be our backup safety, just so we can have him on special teams, too.
You don't even need to ask me why.
There it is. I don't think there was one easy choice in this whole group, outside of Taylor at OLB. If 100 people did this exercise, I would expect Taylor to be on 100 of these teams. Even the most ardent Eagles fan would have to put Taylor on the list. So, if you would like to take a shot at your team, hit me up on Twitter @adamrank to see how you can do.