Interview | Kansas City Chiefs Safety Eric Berry Is A Madden Bowl XXII Finalist!
Oh what a difference a year makes. Kansas City Chiefs safety Eric Berry is at the top of his game. In fact, he’s at the top of his games. On the real NFL gridiron, the dynamic safety helped Chiefs to an 11-5 record and a playoff win. On the video game field, Berry is battling Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed in Madden Bowl XXII in San Francisco tonight win the coveted trophy and bragging rights for a year.
What’s remarkable for the player nicknamed “The Fifth Dimension” is that he was diagnosed with cancer on Dec. 8, 2014. But he fought, and beat, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and was back on the field to kick off the 2015 season. His stellar play got him to the Pro Bowl and has him as a frontrunner for the Comeback Player of the Year Award at the NFL Honors show.
The 27-year-old talks about his love of video games, and his prowess at EA Sports’ Madden franchise, in this exclusive interview.
Crave: What’s a favorite Madden memory you can share from playing the game growing up?
Eric Berry: Oh, man, the biggest memory I have is being able to get my first memory card to save my first music and all the players that I’d created on the game, all the uniforms that I created. I think that was the biggest moment that I had with Madden — and just being able to go back and retrieve everything that I had done – and be able to build off of that.
What’s it like now that you don’t have to create your own player because you’re in the video game?
Oh, man, that’s awesome, especially now that if you have a good Wi-Fi you can update the rosters. So you can see your player progress a lot during the season and into the playoffs. I’m big on franchises, and big on connected franchises, so just to see your player progress and go through the whole career and everything and how it plays out, that’s probably the best part of it.
When it comes to the Madden Bowl, can you talk a little bit about the bragging rights and how big of deal that event is amongst the gamers that are also NFL players?
It’s just a big deal, dog, because a lot of my friends have football backgrounds, but they didn’t quite make it to the NFL or to the college level. They live their dreams out through the game. So if they bust my head on the game, I got to hear it for a whole month to get the title back. So it’s pretty cool, man.
What’s it like playing Madden in these different settings like the NFL Experience Pass, Punt, and Kick Field and the Masonic Center?
Oh, yeah, man, the crowds are definitely big here. But at the crib they can get crowded. It’s not as big as this, but we might have a house full of 30 people playing a game, and just get into it. It’s a wonderful experience playing out here with all these TVs. We don’t have as many TVs and we don’t have the bleachers or anything like that. It’s definitely a big deal here, especially with the commentators. That makes it exciting, as well.
What are your thoughts about eSports because in addition to the Madden Bowl there’s also the $50,000 Madden Challenge with the best pros playing?
Man, I think it’s crazy because before I played in the Madden Bowl, I met Jimbo. He’s one of the best players ever to play the game of Madden. And just seeing him play the game was amazing. I think I was just excited to see him, as he was to see me, especially since I’ve watched him on YouTube to see the different types of strategies that he does. It’s pretty cool to see eSports take off. I heard Jimbo has to beat out like 20,000 players to get the chance to come out here. That’s awesome, man, and I truly respect their game. The way they get out here and maneuver the players, and the different schemes that they have, and the way they run their offensive system and defensive system. I think it’s pretty awesome that they got this far with it.
What potential do you see for Madden when it comes to eSports, especially with Electronic Arts investing in that market and creating the EA Competitive Gaming Division?
Man, I just see this going as far as they can take it. There’s no limits to how big this can get because physically a lot of people can’t play football. And that’s the truth, but on the video games people can live out their dreams. And we have tons and tons of fans that you see that with fantasy football, when they draft the players and all that stuff. They want to live through that, but actually being able to control it a little bit more with your team at the end of it in Draft Champions mode is more fun. That’s going to be a little bit of motivation too. But at the end of the day now, it’s also something fans are familiar with. I always talk about it with my parents, and it can be as big as it wants to be. And people can make a lot of money off of it doing what they do.
What are your thoughts about the fact that today there are kids making a living as professional video gamers?
At this point in time in the Madden Finals that we’re in right now, anything can pretty much be a profession. It’s all about what you put into it. It’s not necessarily the occupation or the title that goes along with it. It’s the effort you put behind what it is you’re doing that makes you a professional. That’s how I always look at it. I’ve always respected what these gamers can do.
Do you think that if pro gaming was an option when you were younger it would have impacted your career trajectory?
I believe so. I definitely believe so.