The logo of the American video game company Electronic Arts and its sports game brand EA Sports headquartered in Redwood City, California is seen in the Munich pedestrian zone. EA Sports' Madden game often draws criticism from athletes for its player ratings. (Photo by Alexander Pohl/NurPhoto)

< Go to Homepage

Meet the Man Who Sets the Madden NFL Player Ratings

Dustin Smith takes plenty of flak for his evaluations.

Dustin Smith is Madden NFL’s player ratings czar, a job that subjects him to endless critiques from the NFL athletes portrayed in the game. As the man responsible for putting a number to player performance in 53 different categories, Smith hears about everything from supposedly under-inflated speed ratings to disappointment in the video game renderings of players’ faces.

Smith took on the role in 2016, the same year he gave his phone number toOrleans Darkwa, free-agent running back. Darkwa would text Smith regularly, encouraging the EA official to bump his scores. “I try to make sure he’s minding his P’s and Q’s,” Darkwa said. “We argue to this day that my ratings didn’t reflect what I did last year,” he continued.

More recently, Houston Texans defensive end Christian Covington tweeted about his Madden avatar, which he thought looked nothing like him. “I looked like a thumb,” Covington told the Wall Street Journal.

It’s Madden’s enormous stature in football culture that makes Smith’s job special, which keeps him from grousing too much about the critiques. “You know people are going to be upset,” Smith told the Wall Street Journal.

Read the full story at the Wall Street Journal