I was killing time earlier this week by playing NCAA Football 2010 on the Xbox. Lately, I’ve been working on practicing how to cover the wide receivers. When I normally play defense, I just pick a lineman or linebacker and let the computer do the rest. So this time, I played all the defensive plays as a corner.
While playing as Michigan, I had a few horrible plays that went for 70+ yard touchdowns. I figured that I’d start a new game. This time, I played as UCONN. After doing a couple plays, I freaked myself out and time seemed to stop for a moment.
I was playing #6.
I was playing as Jasper Howard.
As most may know, Howard was slain earlier this season at a campus event. I scared myself so suddenly that I turned the Xbox off as fast as the controller would let me and I threw the controller on the other side of the couch… almost as if it was going to kill me.
Here I am, in my living room, playing a guy who was younger than me and was murdered just a few months ago. I have yet to update the rosters (if there even is a roster update) but I am considering it now.
After collecting myself, I started asking myself, ‘why?’ Why did I have that reaction? And I think the only way to explain what happened is that it seemed like I saw a ghost. Games, such as sports titles, have become graphically enhanced enough that they just look real.
But I stopped myself there. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t such a big deal; it wasn’t a problem that I was playing #6. It’s the general consensus that humans want to be remembered, or their loved ones want people to remember the dead. This is the main reason for gravestones and roadside memorials. For Howard, he will live forever in the game (or until all Xbox’s cease to exist). Being able to play this man in a game is one of the greatest memorials one could ask for.
He can still be on the football field.
He can still make plays.
He can still intercept footballs and run then back for touchdowns.
So instead of updating the game’s roster and potentially deleting him from the game, I’ll keep the rosters the same. I’ll play as UCONN and learn how to properly play the cornerback. I’ll make interceptions and run them back for touchdowns. And I’ll do it in memoriam to Jasper Howard… Because no one deserves to be forgotten.
Writer’s Note: I wrote this last week and kept it as a Draft. On the same night, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry suffered an off-the-field injury and died the next morning.
Like Howard, he too will be memorialized in the Madden games and the next time I get to play Madden 2010, I’ll pick the Bengals and make sure Henry scores a touchdown.