Fantastic Football: Vandals in Vegas (The Draft)

I’ve started and then abandoned at least four different blog posts over the last 3 months, but now is the moment that I finally break radio silence… to recap my experiences playing Madden NFL 2002 on the PlayStation 2.

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Yeah, I’m not really sure why either. Just go with it.

This is hopefully probably going to be the start of a semi-regular blog series (which will hopefully be interspersed with other, non-Let’s Play posts) as I bumble through the Franchise mode of this seventeen year old video game that I haven’t played since 2007. Why Madden 2002? Well, the simple answer is because that’s the only version I have available, because I haven’t had the urge to play a football game in literally over a decade. But the other answer is that, unlike newer Madden titles, 2002 allows you to create a custom team, a feature which I find very enticing.

THE VANDALS

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at our new team, the Las Vegas Vandals. (These images are all going to look incredibly garbage because what else do you expect from a game from seventeen years and two-and-a-half console generations ago?)

Their stadium is, of course, named after then-current Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, who I can only assume struck a Faustian pact with the football demons in order to secure an NFL franchise in Sin City, and so deserves some kind of recognition for the presumed sacrifice of his immortal soul in exchange for a football team.

In an effort to channel the spirit of Las Vegas, I made their uniforms garishly gold. My hope is that the offensively yellow tint of their jerseys will blind the other teams, giving us a significant home field advantage.

Once I was done painting the Vandals yellow, I headed over to Franchise mode and dissolved the team from Washington in sulfuric acid, substituting in our fabulous golden gladiators in their place.

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So long, unnamed team from Washington. You will not be missed.

Oh, and here’s the Vandals’ new, mysterious head coach.

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No one knows where he came from, he just showed up at practice one day and started giving orders. Kind of like Herm Edwards.

THE DRAFT

And now, finally, we can begin the fantasy draft. If you’re unfamiliar with how this works, every single player in the NFL is placed into a 49 round draft involving all the teams, resulting in a complete reshuffle of the rosters of every team in the league. This is an optional way to start Franchise mode, so of course I chose to do it, because I love chaos. (Also, the team from Washington wasn’t that good that year, and since the Vandals start out with their roster by default, I’d like to shake up the talent pool a bit.)

I won’t go over the entire draft here because seriously. Do you have any idea how much time it takes to do a 49 round draft? I don’t, because I haven’t started it yet (yeah, I was writing this in real time), but I will let you know when I get done.

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An hour. That’s how long it took. I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert on drafting an NFL team, but from what I understand, nobody is. That said, I feel like I’ve managed to assemble a comparatively good offense, spearheaded by a 24-years-old Peyton Manning at QB and an also 24-years-old Tony Gonzalez at TE. I don’t know a lot about football, especially not football seventeen years ago, but I feel like that’s a pretty dangerous combination.

Some other potentially noteworthy highlights from the fantasy draft:

  • The Cardinals snatched up Randy Moss as the 3rd pick of the first round. I think this is the first time Randy Moss has been relevant in at least a decade, so good for him.
  • Brett Favre now plays for the Tennessee Titans, which probably doesn’t sting as much for Packers fans as his move to the Vikings did.
  • Kurt Warner, who I think might have been famous at one point? He plays for the New York Giants now. I honestly couldn’t tell you whether that’s a change or not.
  • Terrell Ownes has attracted the ire of the football demons, and has been cursed to play for the Cleveland Browns. Maybe the complete reshuffle of rosters league wide will give the Browns a chance. Probably not though.

Because of my early focus on building a decent offensive core, my defense is a little bit lackluster. I’m hoping that won’t be a problem.

I’m not going to go over the entire roster of 49 players right now, because there’s no easy way to dump the full list from the PS2 and I have no interest in transcribing that many names. Also, I don’t know who half of these players are, because some of them haven’t played in the NFL in over a decade. This way, we can discover who they really are, on the field of football.

I had a bit of cap room left over at the end of the draft, which I used to pickup a spare quarterback and wide receiver. Why? Well, one of my receivers (Sylvester Morris) is starting the season on injured reserve, and I wanted to replace my existing 4th string QB with a better one. (I would tell you who the previous 4th string was, but in the time between releasing him and looking down at my keyboard, I have already forgotten his name. He was not very good though).

Aaaaaand I just noticed that the new WR that I just signed is also injured. Why doesn’t the game tell you that before you sign someone?

Sigh.

Since we’ve got Peyton Manning chairing our offense, Hugh Mann and I went ahead and stole the playbook from Jim Mora. At his request, I did not discuss playoffs.

Before starting on Week 1’s games, I backed out to the main menu and dropped into training mode for a bit, just so I could re-familiarize myself with a game I literally have not played since 2007. You definitely don’t care about this, so I won’t bore you with the details. Suffice to say, I figured things out.

Or at least, I think I figured things out.

Hopefully I figured things out.

Guess we’ll find out soon.

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