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Madden's 'ratings czar' retires after 16 years

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Donny Moore, the man responsible for assessing NFL athletes' diverse skills and turning them into numerical ratings for EA Sports' Madden NFL series, is retiring after a 16-year career, he announced today on Twitter.

"After much thought & consideration, I have chosen to step away from [EA Sports] & announce my retirement as the Madden Ratings Czar as I have opted to pursue other interests," said Moore.

Reached for comment, a representative for Madden developer EA Tiburon confirmed to Polygon that Moore is leaving Electronic Arts, and that Madden NFL 16 will be the final title to feature Moore's work; he prepared the ratings that the game will launch with next month.

"Donny has been part of the Madden team for years and we thank him for what he's brought to the franchise," the Tiburon rep said in a statement. "We wish him the best of luck!"

Moore joined Tiburon in the late '90s, and worked his way up to the position of "ratings czar" — yes, that's what it says on his business card — for the franchise. In that role, he assigned ratings to all of the 2,600 or so players in the NFL; in Madden NFL 15 last year, players had ratings in more than 40 different categories, like speed, jumping, strength and elusiveness.

It's a thankless job that brought Moore seemingly unending criticism from opinionated Madden fans — this is an individual who has a photo of Rod "He Hate Me" Smart as his Twitter background. Of course, Madden players include the NFL pros who are themselves being rated by Moore; real-life quarterbacks have acted as armchair quarterbacks when it comes to analyzing Moore's assessment of their skills. Moore was always happy to discuss ratings with fans and NFL athletes on Twitter and in the media, including a memorable appearance on ESPN's First Take in 2009 during which wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, then of the Seattle Seahawks, complained to Moore about his speed rating in Madden NFL 10.

Asked about how Tiburon will handle Madden ratings going forward, the spokesperson told Polygon, "There's a team who collectively ensures authenticity across players, teams, gear and more. They'll continue to use the same tools, database and resources that Donny used to make decisions about ratings changes based on what happens during the NFL season."

Moore's work, it seems, will live on at EA and in Madden.

Madden NFL 16 launches Aug. 25 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One; check out our E3 preview. For more on Moore, read FiveThirtyEight's terrific feature on the man and his process.

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