There is a certain kudos attached to earning enough respect in the NFL to become the next EA Sports Madden cover star.
However, for the next 2023 edition of the game, EA Sports have made the right, and perhaps only decision for their cover star.
That’s because for the first time since the year 2000 edition, released in 1999, it will be the eponymous John Madden that will be the face of the most famous American Football gaming franchise.
Madden passed away on the 28th December 2021 at the age of 85 and the former NFL head coach and broadcaster, was the name who EA turned to when looking for someone to publicise their new 1988 released NFL-themed game.
An Enduring Legacy
Despite only making the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad as a player and never playing a
down in the NFL, Madden carved out a Hall of Fame career for himself as a coach.
Starting at Allan Hancock College in 1960, he became head coach in 1962, then moved on to San Diego State as a defensive coordinator in 1964.
He spent two years there before joining the Oakland Raiders in the NFL as a linebacker coach in 1967 where, after just two years in the role, he was elevated to head coach.
He led the Oakland Raiders to seven AFL/AFC Championship Game appearances, seven divisional titles, eight playoff appearances and the Raiders first Super Bowl win in Super Bowl XI.
Having never endured a losing season in his coaching career in Oakland, he holds the highest winning percentage of any NFL coach that has coached 100 games or more.
However, it was arguably his second career in the commentary box that got him the job as the name and face of EA Sports American Football title.
Winner of 16 Sports Emmy Awards, he appeared across all four major American networks and his commentary, wit and wry observations made him a smash hit success with fans and NFL stars alike.
Starting in 1979, he spent 30 years in a variety of roles on TV, finishing with his final game at Super Bowl LXIII between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.
Madden not only provided his name to the EA Sports game, he was a regular provider of commentary on the game throughout the years and became so famous from it that many of the esports generation now know John Madden as the face of Madden, rather than for his exploits as an NFL Super Bowl winning coach or broadcaster.
The Madden Curse
At least Madden’s appearance this year on the cover will prevent any player from claiming that
the Madden curse has struck them.
For the first ten years of its existence, the game tended to have John Madden on the cover, but in 1998, that changed when Garrison Hearst appeared on the cover in some regions and by 2000, when Eddie George was on the cover, a new precedent was set for players to earn the right to be on the Madden Cover.
However, a number of players that featured on the cover subsequently suffered a decline in performance, or injury, and this led to the creation of the Madden Curse!
That said a number of cover stars have had superb seasons after appearing on the cover. Calvin Johnson set the single-season record for receiving yards in 2013 after appearing on Madden 2013, Tom Brady was named MVP in 2018 and Patrick Mahomes won the Super Bowl in the year after he appeared on the cover.
With EA Sports Madden game now an elite esports title as well as enjoying huge popularity on consoles and casual gamers, it is a fitting tribute to a man whose name has become synonymous with American Football for the next generation to make a final appearance on the cover.