Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is That Really The Best Player For This Madden Cover?

In case you're not aware, EA Sports has decided to produce a Spanish version of the mega-hit Madden NFL '08. They're hoping to tap into the sport's popularity at a time when the NFL is ratcheting up marketing efforts aimed at Spanish speakers.

For the first time, Electronic Arts Inc. is producing a Spanish-language version of its hugely popular Madden NFL football video game, the company announced Tuesday.

The move is evidence of the growing popularity of the NFL among Spanish speakers as well as a sign of the company's desire to tap into new customers.

It's estimated that "about 12 percent of the NFL's 120 million fans are Hispanic", and it is nice that EA Sports has taken them into consideration. Eventhough, they've probably already purchased the English version of this year's game which has been available since August. But I'm sure that EA wouldn't mind someone buying two copies of the same game.

Probably the two biggest questions regard the announcer and the cover victim athlete. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately for our Spanish speaking friends, John Madden is not doing his schtick in Spanish. Which is really a shame because I wanted to hear him shout "auge!" at least once. No, instead it will be Alvaro Martin.

And who's the cover athlete?

Luis Castillo of the San Diego Chargers. Who was chosen because of his heritage.
The cover will feature San Diego Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo, the second player from the Dominican Republic to be drafted and start in the NFL.

Now, everything seems fine and dandy, but some of you may have heard of Mr. Castillo. And you probably remember that it wasn't all good.

Luis Castillo was an All-American defensive linemen while at Northwestern, but during his senior season he suffered a severe elbow injury that nagged him the entire season. He opted not to take a medical redshirt, and as the NFL Combine got closer he was scared that he wouldn't perform up to the level he was capable of. So, he used the steroid, androstenedione, for a short while and was able to put up 32 reps at 225lbs at the combine. However, he also tested positive for the steroid there, and instantly had to go on the defensive. All 32 teams knew of his failed test, but San Diego still took him with the 28th pick of the 2005 draft.

Here is what Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel had to say about it at the time:
"It sends a terrible message,'' Vrabel said. "He cheats. He cheated the system and got away with it."

Castillo admitted that he took andro to help him with his combine performance, and whether or not you justify his decision because he's a "great kid"(like Chargers' GM A.J. Smith) the fact is he did cheat to enhance his performance. He was rewarded back in 2005 with being drafted #28, and he's being rewarded in 2007 with the cover of the Spanish version of Madden '08. Well, if you can call being on the cover a reward.

And in a weird twist of coincidence, Castillo's teammate Shawne Merriman, who has also had some steroid issues, has been selected as the cover athlete for EA's NFL Tour.

So, that's two athletes with ties to steroids that are doing endorsements for EA's NFL marketing. Somewhere Roger Goodell is burning all of his EA games.


Josh said...

Tough call. A banned substance is a banned substance, but one might wonder if a distinction should be made be androgens and traditional anabolic steroids. After all, Mark McGwire used andro during his record-breaking homerun season, and no one went after him the way people went after Bonds for using "The Clear." The situation gets trickier when you realize Castillo was a class act before and after the andro debacle. In the end, it seems he was afraid of losing out on a future career and cut a corner. It also seems he's been making up for it ever since by staying out of trouble and being involved in numerous charities. I'd like to think his response to the whole situation shows class and character, and it's because of that that I believe he's not a bad person to put on the cover of a video game at all.

Anonymous said...

It is absurd to blast EA Sports for this decision. What was omitted in your report is that Luis Castillo sent a letter to every NFL team confessing what he did and explaining why he took andro. He was punished, he didn't get rewarded by being selected at 28, he slipped to 28. Castillo has done enough great work off the field to outweigh his one mistake that he confessed to instead of hiding it.

Anonymous said...

I think its incorrect to say that he was "rewarded" by being drafted 28th overall. Some reports say that he likely slipped in the draft because of his positive test and it was only a full on mea culpa from him that kept him from sliding further. The difference in contract between even a mid first round draft pick to a late first round draft pick is significant.

BDoc said...

I don't dispute that Castillo was seemingly a stand up person both before and after the incident.

I also understand that he was scared about his combine performance.

However, he still knowingly took a banned substance in order to enhance his performance in that event.

In putting him on the cover, I feel that EA is walking a fine line between further rewarding(getting drafted at all into the NFL, let alone the 1st round, is a reward) someone who admittedly cheated to get ahead, even if only temporarily, and forgiving someone for a mistake that they've done their best to move on from.

Brandon said...

This isn't a tough call at all. Castillo has every right to be on the cover and EA made a great decision. Coming out of high school Luis was a member of the Math Honor Society, The National Honor Society, and an honor roll student. He continued to work hard while at Northwestern, not only earning playing time as a sophomore, but earning his degree in economics and business institutions. When he did test positive for andro he sent out a letter to all 32 teams apologizing for his actions. He recognized he made a mistake unlike everyone else in the NFL who say they never "knowingly" took it. He did drop in the draft, so there is no frickin' way you could say he was rewarded for being picked that high. Troy Smith was arrested once at ohio State during his freshman year and he never "payed" for that. Luis has made the most of his time at San Diego. not only is he one of the smartest players in the NFL, he is one of the most articulate and one of the most generous athletes in the NFL. He has supported many charities and has donated portions of his salary each year. That is why he deserves to represent the NFL.

Anonymous said...

Andro is hardly a steroid. It's a drug that helps with recovery.

Anonymous said...

go die!!!!

BDoc said...

Thanks for stopping by!

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