After Electronic Arts snatched up the licensing rights to the National Football League late last year, Chicago-based Midway, and former NFL licensee, didn't blink an eye. Long known for its arcade spin on sports games, the publisher calmly announced the NFL-free Blitz: The League for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
Blitz: The League is an extension of the hard-hitting NFL Blitz series, but with an entirely fictitious league and players. Without the constraints of the NFL hanging over it, the game is squarely focused on everything that the country's most popular professional organized sport doesn't want you to see: bone-crushing hits, in-your-face celebrations, and drug use.
Now, the game has a fitting face to match its gritty gameplay. Midway today announced that former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor will be the spokesperson and cover athlete for the game, and he will lend his voice to Quentin Sands, one of the game's leading characters.
Taylor, known by his initials L.T. or the nickname Superman, redefined how the game of football was played. The athletic outside linebacker played with reckless abandon on his way to an MVP award and two Super Bowls with the Big Apple's G-Men. Taylor was one of the NFL's most feared defensive players and delivered the gruesome blow to Joe Theismann that snapped the quarterback's shin in half. The Hall of Famer's intensity continued off the field too; he violated the league's substance abuse policy more than once.
Taylor's "team first, personal safety second" attitude should jibe well with the game's story. Peter Egan, a writer on ESPN's docudrama on pro football, Playmakers, has been working with the development team to expose the underbelly of the sport.
Blitz: The League will be released on October 17. It's still awaiting a rating from the ESRB, but it will likely catch an M for Mature.