EA has confirmed that the Madden NFL 23 cover star will be John Madden himself, following the legendary coach and commentator’s death last December.
It will mark the first time Madden, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Oakland Raiders before establishing himself as a legend in the play-by-play booth, has appeared on the box since Madden 2007’s Hall of Fame edition.
The mega-publisher is producing three separate covers in honor of Madden. One celebrates his career as a coach, a second his time in broadcasting, and a third digital-only edition features work created by Philadelphia-based artist Chuck Styles.
It’s not the only way EA is paying tribute to the man who has fronted the ubiquitous Gridiron sim since its 1988 inception. It’s calling today (June 1) Madden Day, and dedicating a renovated field at EA HQ in Redwood Shores as ‘John Madden Field’. June 1 was the original release date of that very first game in the series, 34 years ago.
There’s also an ‘interactive experience’ dedicated to Madden in the new game. Two versions of Coach Madden lead opposing teams of All Madden athletes, who go head-to-head in the 1970s Oakland Coliseum. Remastered audio clips of the great man also feature as part of this bespoke mode.
“There are people on the team here who, until quite recently, used to go to Coach’s house annually to review the game,” senior producer Mike Mahar tells GamesRadar. “There is a deep connection [among the team] to him as a person. And he stands for authentic eleven-vs-eleven football. That caused us to go back and look at what inspired Coach, and EA, to partner originally.”
We’ll have more on those Madden-inspired new gameplay features tomorrow (June 2), and a Madden 23 release date is also expected imminently.