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There are only a small handful of sports personalities whose names you’ve heard even if you know next to nothing about the sport in question. Even if you’ve never looked so much as looked at a field the names Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, or Wayne Gretzky probably register somewhere in your brain — and one of those names, the illustrious John Madden, passed away yesterday at the age of 85.

While known in the world of American Football for coaching the Oakland Raiders to a Super Bowl win and providing commentary across four major networks for nearly three decades, Madden is of course known in the video game world for fronting the Madden NFL franchise of EA Sports football games, which arguably has cemented his name more than his other work. Instead of merely lending his name to the product, he’s been involved in the games’ design to some degree since the first release in 1988 for the Apple II.



Originally known as John Madden Football, the series has gone from a scrappy unlicensed upstart pushing technological bounds in the late ’80s and early ’90s to one of the biggest arms of both the video game and sports-industrial complex today, selling millions upon millions of copies a year. John Madden adorned each game’s cover until Madden ‘01, where the tradition of picking a new player for each year’s version began, and lent his voice as commentary to most of the games up until Madden ‘09. He was far more than a name on a cover, and his name has already been enshrined for all time in both the Pro Football Hall of Fame (where he was inducted in 2006) and the World Video Game Hall of Fame, which inducted the Sega Genesis version of John Madden Football in 2018. Rest in Peace.


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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.