Every August brings with it a new Madden
. And every year American football obsessed fans line up to debate player ratings. The ratings each player receives in Madden NFL
act as a sort of confirmation for some, and a point of controversy for others.
"He's rated too highly!"
"There's no way he should be below him!"
"Only an 84? Are you kidding me?"
As the season goes on, real life performances dictate and alter players' in-game ratings, so you needn't get too upset about where they start in the game when it arrives in stores in two weeks. If they're as good as you think they are, they'll get their ratings boosts in due time. Having said that, there exists an exclusive collection of players each year that begin Madden
Season as the elite of the elite, demi-gods on the gridiron -- the 99 Club. A 99 rating is the highest honor a player can receive in the annual series, and this year just four players will kick off the game with such a distinction. Rob Gronkowski, Tight End, New England Patriots
This year's cover star is deservedly among the quartet of 99ers. He averages almost a touchdown per game in his career, something that is unheard of for a player at his position, or any position besides quarterback, really. He'll be without his usual pass-and-catch partner Tom Brady to start the year, but he embodies the league's image of an unstoppable offensive force, so it may not matter much. His highest sub-category is a 98 Catch in Traffic.JJ Watt, Defensive End, Houston Texans
Watt is well on his way to cementing his legacy as the single
greatest defensive player in league history. If he can stay healthy, few doubt his trajectory. And few quarterbacks probably sleep well the night before they face Houston because of his dominant no-plays-off presence as an edge rusher. He's also a great run stopper and has even been utilized as a goal line target several times throughout his career. He does a lot of trash talking, but he certainly backs it up. His highest sub-category is a 99 Power Move.Von Miller, Outside Linebacker, Denver Broncos
Even less than feverish NFL fans should know Miller's name by now. He's been a consistent playmaker for the dominant Broncos defense for the past several seasons and capped off his best season yet with a Super Bowl MVP award. You may best remember him as the guy who made Cam Newton look foolish multiple times back in February. He just became the highest paid defensive player in league history, too. His highest sub-categories are Finesse Moves and Pursuit, both earning 98 ratings.Luke Kuechly, Middle Linebacker, Carolina Panthers
Though he was on the wrong end of the Super Bowl's final score six months ago, you'd be hard-pressed to put the blame n his shoulders. He played an excellent game and seems to bring his best effort every time he steps on the field. One thing he shares in common with the other three members of the 99 Club is his "high motor", he plays every down like the game depends on it, which is why he ranks at a 97 or higher in seven different categories. Of those, his highest sub-categories are Stamina and Toughness, each ranked a 99.
Only one NFC player and only one offensive player make up the list, but it's really not one with which you can argue, can you? Did Tiburon leave anyone deserving out of the club?