The Old Spice sponsored “Swagger” statistic crammed into EA Sports yet-to-be-released Madden NFL 11 isn’t anywhere near as cool as it had been rumored to be. EA Community Manager, Justin Dewiel, issued the following explanation of the Swagger statistic:

“The “Old Spice Swagger” rating determines the likelihood of a player to celebrate on the way to the endzone, or after a touchdown. For example, a running back like Adrian Peterson (99 rating) has a greater tendency to celebrate than Frank Gore (50 rating).”

Adrian Peterson?? Does Justin even watch football? Peterson’s runs are so fast that he barely has time to pass gas on his way to the end zone, let alone celebrate. And when he does, it’s usually because he is fighting off the defenders draped from his body. Not a sports fan? Don’t believe me? Want to see the highlight again? The proof is below.

Now, did he celebrate when he got to the endzone? Well, if you consider throwing a ball to a fan and hugging one of his lineman a “swagger-enduced” celebration, then he sure did. However, I’d like to attribute his genuine excitement to the fact that he just steamrolled over four or five Browns defenders on his way in for the score. And unless Tiburon considers multiple stiff arms and ankle snapping jukes a form of “celebration,” I’m pretty sure his run was swagger-free.

Considering this new information, my “hey this sounds pretty cool” stance on the new stat has quickly shifted to “enough of the pointless advertising please.” This is nothing more than a means to plug another product, and far from being anything that remotely resembles a gameplay enhancement. My sports-loving brother from another mother, Owen Good over at Kotaku, put it this way:

“If ‘swagger’ is only pertinent to touchdown plays – not big hits, interceptions or (shudder) Michael Irvin-style first downs – then an auto-celebrate feature adds little in the way of gameplay, solidifying this as more advertisement than feature. And if means manual celebration controls were removed to justify it, then it’s worse.”

Couldn’t agree more. Way to let us down EA. We were actually willing to accept the promotional plug if it meant a new statistic that offered more enjoyment/diversity to the game itself, but this just screams “half-assed attempt to appease another sponsor.”

I mean, if that’s what Madden is going to be about from now on, why not have all the players on the sidelines chomping down on Cool Ranch Doritos? Mix in some crowd close-ups of fans chatting it up on their Sprint mobile phones as partially-chewed chunks of Snickers zip out of their mouths. Better yet, why not just do away with the entire interactive element and turn the game into a 45 hour long infomercial on the profit potential of in-game advertising? That might actually be more interesting.

I think I’m going to create a horrible player in Madden, load him up with swagger, and leave him void of everything else. I’ll then run him through the league for several years straight and laugh as his endzone celebrating dreams fail to materialize year after year. Oh wait, I think I just described Freddie Mitchell.

Update: Owen Good was able to obtain a little added insight from the game’s Creative Director, Ian Cummings. In a tweet directed towards Owen, Ian stated:

“manual celebrations are still there [for what it's worth].”

And for what it’s worth, I’d like to be perfectly clear on something here. My disappointment/anger is not directed towards the hard working developers and creative minds behind this product, as I’m fairly certain they aren’t the ones coming up with the ingenious new ways to integrate even more advertising into their game — and if they are, the orders are being passed down by those way above their pay grade.

[Source: MyMaddenPad via Kotaku]