NFL players get shot at a virtual championship

Thu Jan 29, 2009 10:18am EST
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By John Gaudiosi

TAMPA, Florida (Reuters) - With just days until Super Bowl Sunday, a who's who of NFL players and celebrities are lined up for one of the hottest parties in Florida on Thursday -- the annual videogame competition, the Madden Bowl.

The 15th annual competition pits the best NFL pros in a single-elimination tournament to find out who the best "Madden NFL 09" gamer is on Microsoft's Xbox 360.

"A lot of guys play video games, especially "Madden," and everybody thinks they're good, so Madden Bowl allows players to find out who's the best," said New York Jets' Brad Smith.

"You want to have those bragging rights for the next year."

This year's tournament includes a pair of combatants who will face off on the real gridiron Sunday in the big game -- Arizona Cardinals running back Edgerrin James and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker.

Other players that will take part in this year's Madden Bowl include Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Bryant, Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, New York Giants defensive end Justin Tuck and Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

EA Sports is introducing a first-ever Madden Bowl XV Rookie Play-In game between quarterbacks Mark Sanchez of the USC Trojans and Matt Stafford of the Georgia Bulldogs, both of whom have declared for the upcoming NFL Draft.

The winner of this pre-tournament game will take part in the big competition that always take place in the home city of the Super Bowl.   Continued...

<p>Pittsburgh Steelers running back Willie Parker answers a question during media day for Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa, Florida, January 27, 2009</p>