The Simulation and Representation of T.O.

Courtesy of ESPN/EA Sports

In advance of last night's hotly anticipated match between the NFC-leading Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers, ESPN simulated the match using EA Sports' Madden NFL 08 videogame as the simulation engine. And of course they simulated the news article that was generated by the information produced during the simulation run. According to the sim, the Cowboys won/would win the game 20-17 in overtime. The "photo" from the simulation accompanying the article showed star Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens triumphantly posing in the end zone after scoring a touchdown.

By scrolling to the bottom of the article one can find the key statistics from the simulated game:

Courtesy of ESPN/EA Sports

But wait a second: according to the post-game statistics, though Owens caught 8 passes for 98 yards, he did not score a touchdown.

If Owens did not score a touchdown, then why the "photo" of him posing in the end zone as if for an imagined national television audience? Why has Owens (and his "blackness") been fictionalized so in this simulation? Does the fact that it is a simulation automatically confer the license of fiction?

Because Owens — due in no small part to his past experiences of showmanship — has been constructed by the media as the ultimate selfish, preening, prima donna football player. And in a sports world based so intimately upon media exposure, this characterization has become truth, fiction be damned.


3 responses to The Simulation and Representation of T.O.

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  1. Cam Bishop says:

    Is it possible that your individual association of Owens with winning or scoring leads you to believe that he is celebrating a TD?

    Nowhere does it say that T.O. is celebrating a touchdown, nor is the game decided by a touchdown. It is entirely possible that he made a long catch and run before being tackled at the one yard line and rolling into the end zone and celebrating an amazing play. Perhaps he even set up a game tying touchdown in the final minutes of regulation.

    There is a high probability that T.O. is in the picture simply because he is the most popular and recognizable Cowboy.

  2. sportsbabel says:

    Cam, not only is what you suggest about my "individual association" possible, but it is also possible that because I am used to seeing Owens framed by the media in a certain way, I am more sensitive to "looking for" things in the future.

    And it is *possible* that he may have caught a long pass at the 1 and rolled forward before celebrating. But I think the chances of him rolling all the way to the back of the end zone before posing all by himself like that is slim indeed.

    You're almost certainly right about *why* he is in the picture. But the point is to ask why *that particular* picture.

  3. Cam Bishop says:

    I think that I understand what you're trying to get at. So, here is my interpretation of why that particular picture in a few jot notes:

    - in the past, TO has gained the most on-field exposure for two things: scoring touchdowns & excessively celebrating them

    - b/c TO is arguably the most recognizable Cowboy (the face of the franchise, perhaps), nothing better represents a Cowboy win than T.O. celebrating

    - b/c Madden, as a game, takes into account information from past seasons, the simulation fashioned a representation of TO from the 2006-07 season including his mannerisms, instead of the 'newer', 'nicer' TO

    I think that it will be extremely interesting to see if your hypothesis holds true in the editions of Madden to come because currently TO has decided to be a 'good' teammate and except for a minor incident this year (the camera celebration after 'spygate')Terrell has seemingly tried to distance himself from his past.