Breaking Madden, 49ers vs. Seahawks: BEEFTANK's path to Self

Clarence BEEFTANK is the hero of Breaking Madden, and the lovable little man who started it all. After a three-month absence, he returns for the NFC Championship Game to humiliate the Seahawks, and to discover his very self.

"What could I say to you that would be of value, except that perhaps you seek too much, that as a result of your seeking you cannot find."

- Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

This is the conclusion of the trilogy of Clarence BEEFTANK, the hero of Breaking Madden. If you've been reading Breaking Madden since the beginning, you know his name.

Quarterback. Five feet tall, 400 pounds. Born in 1937. Is ageless and comes from a past and place shrouded in mystery. Played college football at DeVry. Never, ever, ever throws the ball.

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He's as fast as the Dickens, and some scouts believe he may be even faster than the Dickens. We haven't seen him since early October, when he suited up for the Jaguars and singlehandedly routed the Broncos, 42-0.

BEEFTANK possesses the highest possible skill ratings in Madden NFL 25. No one in the game is faster, has more moves, or can truck fools more violently than him. Well, "violently" isn't the word. He is cryptic and difficult to understand in all ways but one: he loves you, all of you. American football has never seen a soul so sensitive.

His hygiene is unconventional.

He loves food nearly as much as he loves you.

He loves to have a good chuckle from time to time.

It took him quite some time, but he has come to accept and embrace his body type.

And his heart is filled with wonder.

BEEFTANK has spent the last few months away from football, wandering the land, and his sojourn has eventually led him to the top of the San Francisco 49ers' depth chart. (It could just as easily have been the Seahawks, their opponent in the NFC Championship. I flipped a coin.) I've moved Colin Kaepernick to the position of running back. Apart from that, I made no changes to San Francisco's roster.

But BEEFTANK needs to run free, so I reduced the Seahawks' defense to absolute ruin.

INTRODUCING SEATTLE'S TWITTER-DEFENSE

Music: "What's This Life For" by Creed, because I wanted to test whether, given enough time, Creed's music can graduate to endearing kitsch a la Chicago. Results inconclusive.

I dropped every player from the Seahawks' defensive depth charts and replaced them all with the sorriest collection of football players who have ever lived. Since this game is an exclusively West-coast affair, I waited to recruit them on Twitter until past two in the morning Sunday, in the hope that most of us East-coast chuckleheads had already headed to bed.

The beauty of this is that I received 20 responses within about five to eight seconds of sending that tweet, so I'm virtually certain that we don't have any jokers or fake-pasters in the lot. This stuff was really on their clipboards, and I'm thankful we could get through 20 of them without running into any hardcore porn.

These players are the polar opposites of BEEFTANK: seven feet tall, 160 pounds, and set to the lowest possible ratings in every single category. These are their names.

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I had no idea of what "slimenia" was, so I Googled it and found an entry on a Super Mario Bros. wiki. In part: "The capital city, Boingburg, was once attacked by the Plob."

I find it drastically unfair that I spend 25 hours a week staring at a video game but still am made to feel like an old-ass man who doesn't understand video game references. Like, I've never played any of the Bioshock games, which I'm positive are awesome, and yet I'm really, really good at typing "TOM BRADY" with an Xbox controller. This is total clownshoes.

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What a delightful graphic, Randall! Did you create it yourself, or did you find it online? Terrific computing skills in either case. Prior to the arrival of the polar vortex last week, I bought lots of groceries and plotted out my life such that I wouldn't have to go outside at all. But out of curiosity, I did step outside for just a minute. And then I died!

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After some deliberation, I've concluded that Kyle Z's tweet wasn't a made-up paste. The keys are spaced such that typing them while randomly slapping the keyboard is rather unlikely. It looks like it might be a CD key for a computer game, or perhaps an essay on Will Muschamp's offensive strategy.

Sara Kate, I hope she is all right by now. You just can't French-press a steak and not anticipate consequences.

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#WTWTCH's tweet might be my favorite. I felt like I just walked in on a quarreling couple. And they're arguing about snacks, of all the dang things. All snacks are good, except for pretzels, the most boring food on Earth. Like, if I'd never heard of pretzels, and you handed me one to eat, and then asked me to go out and buy some, I'd probably go to Home Depot.

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whoa it is a true detective

THE GAME

Pitting the best possible runner against the worst possible defenders wasn't quite enough for me, so I also tooled around with the game's global settings. I set the CPU's tackling ability, pass defense, and run defense as low as it would go.

I should also note that I played as BEEFTANK, and only BEEFTANK. Everything you see the Seahawks do in the GIFs below is entirely the computer's fault.

I suppose I can partially be blamed for Colin Kaepernick: Running Back, because I was the one who put him there, but I couldn't have made him do this if I'd tried. He just did this funny business all by himself.

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One wonders whether Kaepernick's ever actually watched what Frank Gore does with the football after he's handed the ball.  Kaep is behaving as though he's never actually seen a rushing attempt, but had it explained to him by a drunk guy behind the Safeway.

Poor BEEFTANK. The great irony of his life is that he's so small, so easy to stow away, and yet his world cannot find a place for him. Madden has never known quite what to do with a five-foot, chubby, lovable little man.

Meanwhile, Seattle's Twitter defense was so big and slow and incompetent that the 49ers were running out of stuff to do. So they just beat the Hell out of the Seahawks, waited until they staggered to their feet, and knocked them to their asses again.

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Once we flatten a team's ratings to zeroes, we're really diminishing the toolbox Madden has to work with in terms of visually rendering the goings-on. The game's physics engine is normally quite robust; players are tackled and fall to the ground in any one of a thousand different ways. But in this contest, the game kept repeating itself. I saw this a lot.

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It was the worst defense Breaking Madden has ever seen, and since all these folks were seven feet tall, there was just so much to knock over. I tried to see whether I could knock down all 11 Seahawks at the same time. I couldn't quite manage to do that, but I came close.

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POWWWW. Eight down. It was like turning a Guess Who? game on its side. I intentionally had BEEFTANK run out of bounds just to set up this quarterback sneak on the goal line, but I'm not really sure why I bothered. On multiple occasions, I called a QB sneak around my own 20-yard line. BEEFTANK just pounded up the middle and took it 80 yards to the house.

This was the third-worst tackle of the game.

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I like Will Robinson's frustrated arm-flailing. I don't understand how BEEFTANK didn't go down. Robinson was awkwardly leaning his sternum against the side of his head and everything.

This was the second-worst tackle of the game.

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I often let BEEFTANK stand still in the pocket for a half-minute or longer, because the attempts to tackle him were just fascinating. Like, the sort of fascinating that made me put my face in my hands and laugh until I cried and couldn't breathe anymore. This, to me, is 10 times funnier than any football joke that anyone could possibly construct with words. I see No. 76 spinning Sanders around like a faucet handle, and I see a video game that knows it's being mocked, but has no idea of how to do anything about it.

That calf strength, BEEFTANK. Good God.

And this was the very worst tackle of the game.

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Robinson tries the exotic "chest and no other part of your body" tackle once again, and then he falls to his knees like he's John Marston in front of the dang barn, and then he runs out of stuff to do, so he gets to his feet and makes a quarter-assed attempt to engage him again before just fleeing the scene entirely. Put it all together and you have a demonstration of what I thought sex would be like when I was eight.

Even when BEEFTANK and I gave the Seahawks all the time in the world, it still took at least three or four hits to bring him down, and sometimes as many as eight or nine. Sara Kate W. didn't even bother.

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Can't blame her, either. But nobody gave up more transparently or profoundly than Joe Kool.

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He didn't die. I promise he didn't die. He was on the field the very next play. It's just that he got knocked down, slowly rolled over on his back, and lay there as BEEFTANK ran for a touchdown on the other side of the field. Just, you know, looking. Just taking in the sky. Just soaking up the rain like a daffodil.

When you are conquered, at the very least, you are relieved of the burden of choice. But what is a man to do once he has conquered everything?

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BEEFTANK scored every single time he felt like it. He ran in so many touchdowns that Madden stopped keeping score. We've run into this problem before: once a team puts up 292 points, the game just stops counting them. How many points could we have scored, had we really wanted to? 500? What was the use?

For a time, BEEFTANK and I settled upon the simple joy of trucking jokers into the stratosphere.

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And I don't mean to tell you it wasn't beautiful. It really was beautiful to see the Seahawks cluster around BEEFTANK like so many Agent Smiths, only to see their perimeter blown apart.

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But in this game, against this helpless team, BEEFTANK found a greater foe than any team could ever be: lack of purpose. He was scoring in such volume, and so effortlessly, that the question was no longer, "how many touchdowns can I score?" It was, "why am I scoring them?"

And that, for a time, is what was defeating Clarence BEEFTANK. In fact, it was routing him. He sat and thought. He dwelled upon his childhood, so very long ago, over 75 years by our calendar. He remembered joy. Joy for its own sake -- neither in the service of an objective, nor as its reward. And then he dwelled some more.

Goodbye, BEEFTANK. I thank you for everything, and I hope you find what you're after:

Music: "After the Flood" from Talk Talk's 1991 album, "Laughing Stock"

For more crimes against football and video gaming, check out our other episodes of Breaking Madden.

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