The cheat code 20 years later: Michael Vick's lasting Madden legacy - ESPN
TWENTY YEARS AGO Madden ratings czar Donny Moore evaluated NFL players in a distinctly lo-fi way: parked in front of a bank of large-screen TVs at a gastropub near his Florida home jotting down notes on a pad of paper. In 2002, a lot of those scribblings had to do with Moore trying to decipher Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.
In his first season as a starter, Vick's spectacular speed and revolutionary dual-threat approach to quarterbacking had already earned him a spot in the playoffs, a trip to the Pro Bowl and a spot of the cover of upcoming Madden NFL 2004 video game. (For the uninitiated, Madden rankings and covers are based on the previous season and labeled a year in advance.) But it was Vick's iconic Week 13 performance in Minnesota that ultimately convinced Moore to break the mold at Madden -- and change video game history forever -- by creating an avatar for Vick that was just as unstoppable as the real thing, a singularity that gamers are still debating to this day.
"Twenty years later it's funny how it all works out," Moore said from his home in Orlando, where he is now the head designer at EA Sports. "It wasn't intentional what we did with Vick, but, looking back, it was beautiful the way it all turned out, magical almost."