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Madden NFL 23’s ‘no-brainer’ cover star is John Madden

EA has confirmed rumors that Coach John Madden will be the cover star of Madden NFL 23. 

John Madden, who had a long career as both the coach of the Oakland Raiders and a football analyst, died in December 2021. EA is honoring Madden — the namesake and inspiration behind its highly successful football game franchise — by renaming a recently renovated field at its Redwood Shores headquarters to the “John Madden Field” and putting him on the cover of Madden NFL 23. There will be three unique covers, including one by artist Chuck Styles for the digital-exclusive Madden NFL 23 All-Madden Edition.

A vertical version of Madden NFL 23: All Madden Edition's key art.

Speaking to Digital Trends, executive producer Aaron McHardy said that EA typically looks at the most exciting and Madden brand-aligned athletes in the NFL when choosing a cover star. But he says there wasn’t much of a debate about who would headline the next game after the team learned of Madden’s death.

“I don’t even think there were discussions as everybody just arrived at the fact that he’s going back on the cover because we have to honor him in the best way we possibly can,” McHardy said. “It’s been so long since he was on the cover of the game, but the game has got his name on it every single year, so we wanted to do everything we could to honor the legend like he is, and it was a no-brainer to put him on the cover.” 

Madden is not just being honored on the cover. The first thing players will experience when booting up Madden NFL 23 is a fictional game where two versions of Madden are facing off against each other with all-star teams of athletes in the 1970s Oakland Coliseum. This game will even include real voice clips from Madden, remastered just for this experience. McHardy also believes Madden’s influence can be felt outside of that opening game because his death encouraged the development team to work harder. 

“I didn’t have the pleasure of speaking with him, but I know a lot of the guys on the team did.” McHardy continued. “He was invested in making sure that our game was the most authentic 11v11 football game that it could be. It was obviously a sad and somber moment to lose someone like Coach Madden, but it really energized the team in a way this year to think about our features, what we’re building, and how we can honor that legacy.” 

Madden NFL 23 will be released for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X/S later this year. 

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