Late Football Legend John Madden to Be Honored on 'Madden 23' Cover

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John Madden
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage

EA Sports is going back to its roots. The sports video game developer is honoring the late legendary coach/broadcaster John Madden by putting him on the cover of this year's Madden NFL 23 video game.

It's the first time in two decades that Madden will grace the cover of all three editions slated to be fully revealed on Wednesday. The video games hit stores in August.

Madden, who coached the Raiders for 10 seasons and guided them to a win in Super Bowl XI, was last featured on the cover for the 2000 edition of the game, which was released in 1999.

Madden graced or shared the cover for the first 13 editions of the game before EA Sports opted for current athletes. Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George became the first NFL star to grace the cover solo in 2001. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes shared the honor last year.

Seann Graddy, the executive producer of Madden NFL, told ESPN the choice on who to honor with this year's cover seemed obvious.

"We were thinking about this year's game and who was going to go on it; it almost became an obvious answer," he told the outlet. "I say that because we really wanted to celebrate Coach in the product this year and what he's meant for us for the 30-plus years that we've been using his name in our game."

According to ESPN, the other two editions will pay homage to Madden as a coach (being lifted up by his players after beating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI) and broadcaster (wearing a shirt and tie in front of a telestrator).

Madden, who died on Dec. 28, 2021, was heavily involved in the making of the Madden NFL video game, from integrating real-game sounds to the playbook options. The first edition was released in 1988. Since then, the franchise grew immensely popular among fans and NFL stars alike. According to EA Sports, the game has sold more than 130 million copies and racked up more than $4 billion in sales.

After retiring from coaching, Madden became a CBS color commentator in 1979 (before moving to Fox Sports in 1994) and rose to broadcasting legend status over the course of his TV career until he retired from the broadcast booth in 2009. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006.

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