Seattle's Richard Sherman didn't just swat away San Francisco's shot at a Super Bowl, he also crapped all over the 49ers' Michael Crabtree in a postgame interview straight out of Piper's Pit. Sherman mocked Crabtree's credentials while boasting of his own. So I wondered: Is there any objective proof for his claims?
Why, yes! The roster of Madden NFL, which athletes take very seriously. EA Sports continually updates the official roster throughout the season (and playoffs) so that players on the screen perform as well (or as crappily) as they do in real life. Let's look back on Sherman's most incendiary statements, and see if they have any merit in the world of Madden.
RICHARD SHERMAN: "As far as Crabtree being a top-20 NFL receiver, you'd have a hard time making that argument to me."
MADDEN: Agrees! Crabtree is rated 90 overall in the latest online roster (the most up-to-date official roster) and while that's tied for 18th in the OVR rating, by however Madden determines tiebreaks (it's not alphabetical order, team name or nickname) Crabtree is listed 21st. There you go! NOT A TOP 20 RECEIVER.
Sherman went on to say "There are a lot of receivers playing good ball out there, and Josh Gordon needed 14 games to produce almost double what Crabtree can do in a full season." Madden's most recent roster update also bears this out, somewhat. Crabtree's OVR 90 is unchanged from the season's beginning, where he was tied for 13th pre-season. But others, like Gordon (of the Browns) surged into the picture (Gordon, a second-year player, improved from an 81 overall to a 93).
I asked Madden's "Ratings Czar" Donny Moore over Twitter what individual attributes are the "tiebreakers" when two players have the same overall rating. In the case of receivers, Moore wasn't sure exactly but said some attributes are weighted more than others. In Crabtree's case, his catch rating is solid (91) but his best receiver attribute is route-running, and his speed is two points away from changing him from a "balanced" wideout to a "possession" receiver.
But Sherman's repeated claim that Crabtree is a "mediocre" receiver would be unsupported. 90 is not dogfood, after all, and if he was truly "mediocre" he'd probably be rated somewhere around, say, 80, which is where Sherman's teammate (and Stanford classmate) Doug Baldwin rates.
RICHARD SHERMAN: "I told [Crabtree], 'Good game and good try, but I'm the best corner in the game.'"
MADDEN: Agrees! Richard Sherman is a 98-rated cornerback, the best corner in the game. Next best is 97-rated Darrelle Revis. Sherman began the season rated 96, second to Revis so, yes, Sherman became the best cornerback in the game this year.
RICHARD SHERMAN: *makes choking gesture at Colin Kaepernick*
MADDEN: Well, Kaepernick's "clutch" attribute is set to "no." His "senses pressure" attribute is "paranoid." That spells choker to me!
I would add that Crabtree does have a vote of confidence from EA Sports—he appeared on the cover of NCAA Football 10 about five years ago. Interestingly, he's rumored to have gotten the box shot because that year at the NFL Scouting Combine, Percy Harvin allegedly tested positive for the doob, which the Seahawks receiver may now enjoy legally as a Washington state resident.
So there you have it. It's so simple when you break things down scientifically. Until next time, I'm Owen Good, reminding you the numbers never lie.