Champ Bailey tested his Madden '07 skills this summer in the Xbox Live "Game with Fame" event. We sat down with him between contests to talk about the new game, his Madden skills and how to build a stronger team.
STACK: Describe today's event, and what you're doing here.
Champ: I'm going online to play Madden '07 against people from around the country to see what I'm all about. I'm looking forward to it, because I know that people who play online are competitive.
STACK: What keeps people coming back to the new version of Madden every year?
Champ: It grows so much. The graphics get better; you can build teams and do all different things.
STACK: Does playing with teammates have a positive effect that carries onto the field?
Champ: Building camaraderie with your teammates is something you can't take for granted. Those relationships are priceless. They're really something you want to cherish, because they're a privilege of playing this game. I get mad at myself, because I let some relationships slip away as I moved forward or switched teams. A lot of guys I played with in college are not in the NFL, and it's hard to keep track of what they're doing. I try to keep in touch with people as much as I can.
Working out, hanging out and even going out together also builds bondseven when you're not talking football. Those things build trust and make you a better team. And the better the relationships are off the field, the better things are on the field. If you know what a guy's going through on a daily basis, you can understand where he's coming from on the field. It means a lot to know how hard he's been working and how bad he wants it. It makes you trust that guy and want to fight for him.
STACK: How often do you play video games, and who's your competition?
Champ: Pretty often. Every time I'm just sitting around and there's nothing on TV. I used to play with Kenard Lang a lot. We were pretty even, but I have to give him the edge. He's a Miami boy, so he loves talking smack.
STACK: What kinds of skills do you have with Madden '07? What are your favorite new features?
Champ: I won't brag, but I can hold my own. I'm still stuck in the '05 mode. They're getting too advanced for me. I am trying the new lead blocking thing, but I need to work on it. There are so many features, sometimes it gets more complicated than the real game.
STACK: Does Madden '07 do justice to your best weapons as a football player?
Champ: At this point in my career, my biggest weapon is my awareness. A lot of people don't realize that if you are aware of what's going on, it makes you a lot fastereven if you've lost a step. When I was younger, speed and straight athletic ability were my things. The last three years, they've done a pretty good job of making the video version of me reflect those qualities.
STACK: What advice do you have for younger athletes?
Champ: Believe your dreams can happen. Obviously, work hard and listen to your coach. But you've got to believe in yourself, because nobody's going to do that for you. Otherwise, it's not going to get done.
Be on the lookout for Madden '08. It drops on Aug. 14. New features include:
1. Branching Animation: Instead of taking long, slow turns to change direction, your players will stop, plant and cut left or right, allowing for faster, more realistic movement.
2. Possession Receiving: Press a button to trigger a possession catch in the clutch. Your receiver will slow down and focus on catching the ball, decreasing the likelihood that he will drop it or get hit midair.
3. Hitstick 2.0:
You decide whether to tackle high or low by flicking the right analog stick up or down. Leave the stick alone, you hit him dead center.
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