Breaking Madden: Tony Gonzalez, cranky old man of destruction

Tony Gonzalez has not fumbled since 2006. The Redskins' special-teams unit is abjectly miserable. Let's smash the two into each other in Madden, see what happens, and accept that we will create nothing but disaster.

Tony Gonzalez is still out there blocking and catching. If he were an offensive lineman, he'd be the oldest offensive lineman in the NFL. And if he were a wideout, he would be the oldest wideout in the NFL. The only players older than him at this point are London Fletcher and a handful of kickers. Gonzalez has stated that he's done, for real, after this season, but literally every team would have him next year without a second thought. He's the greatest tight end in the history of tight ends, and he got to be that way once he figured out how never to fumble.

Almost never, anyway. In the 21st century, he has made 1,139 receptions for 13,108 yards, and he has fumbled one time.

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Gonzalez arrives on this chart with six career fumbles. It's kind of a pity about those first five, which came within a two-year span as a young player. His last fumble came in 2006. Since then he's advanced the ball nearly 600 times for over 6,000 yards without fumbling a single time. It's astounding.

In last week's BREAKING MADDEN, we saw 30 fumbles in a single half of football. BREAKING MADDEN needs Tony Gonzalez, and desperately. With the Falcons up against the at-least-as-cruddy Redskins this Sunday, I think I've found a terrific solution.

Music: "Return of the G" from OutKast's 1998 album, "Aquemini"

Here's what we're going to do:

I. INSTALL TONY GONZALEZ AS KICK/PUNT RETURNER.

We don't need to change his player ratings. We don't need to create SuperTony, because he is already SuperTony, and because he gets to run over the Redskins special-teams unit.

II. MAKE THE REDSKINS' SPECIAL-TEAMS UNIT EVEN WORSE, SOMEHOW.

Our Redskins blog, Hogs Haven, tweeted this minutes before last Sunday's game against the Chiefs:

In the opening half, Washington allowed touchdowns on a kick return and a punt return en route to a 45-10 blowout loss on their own field. This is one of the worst special-teams units I've ever seen in the NFL. They know they are terrible. Tight end and special-teamer Niles Paul:

"Eleven people out there have to want to make a tackle, have to want to make a play, have to want to make a block. And that’s not happening right now and that’s why we are terrible on special teams."

If you've read BREAKING MADDEN for very long, you know that when we identify something bad, we spare no expense to make it a hundred billion times worse. In this spirit, I edited the skill ratings of every Washington player who could conceivably play special teams.

Madden 25 allows the player to change out offensive and defensive personnel all day long, but its flexibility on special teams is much more limited -- the game just sort of grabs guys out of the bottom of your depth chart and chucks them on the kick coverage team, for example. So just to be safe, I made the following changes to every single player on the Washington roster:

0/99 ratings in: Strength, Agility, Speed, Hit power, Toughness, Awareness, and Tackling.

I also set the global CPU tackling ability to a flat zero. I want Washington's special-teams players to possess the stopping ability of the rubber curtain at the mouth of the baggage claim in the airport. Having spent plenty of time waiting for my bag and doing absolutely nothing, I've had some time to think about that curtain. My best hypothesis is that it helps control temperature in the terminal, but it's a flappy curtain with slits all over it. There's no way that dang thing keeps the cold air out.

If you have any idea at all, please let us all know in the comments. Anyway. With any luck, this will be the most useless special teams unit in NFL history.

III. GIVE MR. GONZALEZ AN ELITE SPECIAL-TEAMS UNIT.

Since the game doesn't offer total control over who does and doesn't play special teams, I used a tedious trial-and-error method of roster-swapping to get as many of you on the field as I could. In the end, three real-life Falcons (including Gonzalez) remained on the field for punt and kick returns. The rest of them are six feet tall (I wanted to keep the 6'5" Gonzalez the tallest dude on the field), and possess perfect skill ratings in categories such as Strength, Toughness, Hit power, Blocking, and Awareness.

As I always do, I found y'all on Twitter.

About 900 of you had very, very good ideas and should probably find employ in football programs across the country. In the end, I settled upon the following eight folks:

Ascher Robbins (@AscherRobbins)

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If you had to coach any element of the game of football while completely sloppy, I think special teams would be the place for you. We've developed countless kick- and punt-return strategies, nearly all of which are complete bullshit. None of us knows what we're doing.

That extends to those of us who tirelessly attempt to identify the perfect return strategy in Madden. After playing the series off and on for over two decades, I've found no better strategy than, "make Jamaal Charles your return man," which you can certainly do while drunk.

Tyler Allan (@Ty_asakite)

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Before Riley Cooper outed himself as the sort of person who's totally fine with broadcasting racial slurs in public, I knew him best for the time he tried to hide during a kick return. He found a spot of end zone paint, lied down, and tried to hide. That's a trick you're really only going to be able to bust out once in your career. You couldn't save it for a week when you were wearing a dark uniform? How are different colors so difficult for you?

Arik Parnass (@ArikParnass)

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Sigh. Yep, let's roll back the tape. In one of the more remarkable moments in BREAKING MADDEN history, one Mr. Charlie Gebow slyly left the field and made his way to the Gatorade. WHILE THE PLAY WAS STILL GOING ON.

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God, that was a fun one. It's here, if you missed it.

Andrew Jones (@Jonesyful)

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That's so dang cute. Suit up.

Matt D (@PSUMatt2005)

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This reminds me of one of the strangest-ever Seinfeld episodes. While working in the Yankees' front office, George Costanza realizes that the space underneath his desk is a perfect place for a nap, so he hires a carpenter to retrofit it with a shelf for an alarm clock and a drawer for blanket storage. This backfires, because he is George Costanza, when George Steinbrenner sits down in his apparently-empty office for hours and waits for him to show up. Eventually, Steinbrenner invites some of his grandchildren into the office. George Costanza freaks out, calls Jerry, and breathlessly exhorts him to call in a bomb threat.

The strange thing is that Jerry actually does it. I wasn't shocked that Jerry, the relatively unremarkable "straight man" of the show, would call in a bomb threat. The show is predicated upon the idea of living selfishly. I was shocked that he actually went out of his way to help somebody.

Noah Becker (@Noah_Becker)

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This is fantastic and should be watched by everyone:

2010 proved to be Jorrick Calvin's only year in the NFL. For many players, fame lingers about as long as a The Price is Right appearance. You want to be remembered? You gotta get up there and dance, pal.

Michael Thompson (@MJT127)

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Mr. Thompson finds himself on the field because I'm a sucker for brevity, and because somehow, capes on football players make sense to me. I don't know why, but I can't shake it.

Mike McIntire (@MikeyMc18)

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According to an EXCLUSIVE SOURCE, I have learned that although Jimmy John's establishments do have ovens, employees are strictly forbidden from using them to heat a sandwich during business hours. They can never do so for a customer, and then can never do so for themselves on a lunch break. If they do, according to this source, they are fired on the spot.

This might be the first time I've ever cited an exclusive source, and it's a second-hand source from a person who works at Jimmy John's. If you've ever thought of me as a journalist, please stop that immediately.

THE GAME SANDBOX.

If you really want to see how these Falcons do against these Redskins in a game, here is a concise summary.

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This is a very special edition of BREAKING MADDEN. Since we already know for certain that Tony Gonzalez can run practically every kick or punt for a touchdown, the end result isn't particularly interesting. This is a sandbox-style endeavor. Some moments occurred in the Georgia Dome, and others happened in a practice dome in parts unknown. Occasionally I'd quit the game, tweak a few settings, and fire it back up.

This is what happened when I asked Mr. Gonzalez to try to jump over a defender.

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NGUUHNNNNGH. Mr. Gonzalez, sir, stop. Stop playing football. The worst thing about the concept of a torso behaving like an accordion is the knowledge that it would probably kind of sound like one.

If I had to sum this week's experiment in a single phrase, I'd go with, "Tony Gonzalez, cranky old-man death machine." Terming football defenders as "defenders" never seemed quite right to me. The offensive players are just trying to mind their own business and get on their way, you know? The defenders are the ones who are getting all up in their business and attacking them.

In this space, Mr. Gonzalez kind of snapped that vocabulary back into a truer place. He was the offense. He was the attacker, and he went out of his way to lay waste to all he saw.

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Check out that nameless Washington player sliding across the grass, arms to his sides, face-down, like a log floating into a dam. At any given moment, one might see half the Redskins on the ground at the same time. I am responsible for that. While running with Gonzalez, I grew dissatisfied with simply breaking two tackles and sprinting to the end zone. I'd turn around and make sure to truck as many fools as I could.

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That's Richard Crawford, marooned all by himself as Gonzalez trucks him over three times in eight seconds. After a time, I decided to make one Washington player as fast as possible. Crawford, who I harbor absolutely no ill will against, was chosen at random. I'd leave him unblocked on punt returns and allow him to sprint downfield into abject ruination.

Eventually, some of the Redskins started playing prevent defense on punt returns. For real. I did not do this. The CPU did this all by itself.

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No. 39, David Amerson, is the furthest Washington player down the field. He's supposed to run right at Gonzalez, especially if Gonzalez is just sort of creeping around. He knows better. The game is afraid. The game is afraid.

I didn't want to leave out the Redskins' special-teams efforts on the other side of the line, so I was kind enough to kick them a few footballs, too. Hey, you know how when you're stranded in an alien world where nothing makes sense, you start trying weird things? Like, you start banging two space-rocks together and hope they turn into a sandwich?

No? Well, the Redskins do.

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Fred Davis just stood still as the ball bounced off his head. And then -- again, I want to stress that the CPU did this, not me -- he just starts shimmying sideways up the field. Even if I did take control of him, I don't know how to do this. I don't know how to make a ball carrier strafe in Madden. Strafing is for defensive players. How does this animation even exist for a ball carrier?

As the Internet would put it, "what is this I don't even"? I wish the Internet would stop saying that about, like, two slices of bacon laid neatly on a cronut, and reserve it for spectacles like this one.

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Punt's bouncing off your face, killer. Punt's on the ground, champ. The governing body that processes your fair catches is limited in jurisdiction. It can't just pull you out of this reality into another one that makes sense. You are an oak in the forest, rooted, never to leave: forever old, never wise.

God dang, you dummies.

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I've never seen a scrum composed entirely of a single team.

Finally, back to Tony Gonzalez, Mean Old Man. For a few kick returns, I decided to let Mr. Gonzalez stand still and defend himself whenever a player approached. Let's see what happens when Crawford decides to play on his lawn.

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SMACK

If you watched the video above, you already saw this, but I love it so much that I had to GIF it.

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This week is the week I discovered the lateral in Madden. Press L1 while you're carrying the ball. It is the Chaos Button. Maybe your player will modestly toss it to a guy behind him, or maybe he'll just hurl it over his head like a wedding bouquet. Or maybe, right after Kai Forbath has had his shit completely ruined, the ball will hit him right in the dome.

This is the final BREAKING MADDEN of the regular season, and I was so glad to dwell upon two terrifically cruddy teams while I had the chance. See y'all in the playoffs.

We began with OutKast. We will conclude with OutKast:

Music: "You May Die - Intro" from OutKast's 1996 album, "ATLiens"

For more football video game miracles and catastrophies, check out our other episodes of Breaking Madden.

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