On the 34th anniversary of the first "Madden NFL" video game hitting stores, EA Sports has announced that Madden himself -- the late Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster John Madden -- will serve as the cover man for this year's "Madden NFL 23." The former Super Bowl champion, who died at 85 last December, won't just return as the face of the game for the first time in more than two decades, appearing in an updated version of the original 1988 cover, but will also be commemorated in the video game.
Madden first graced the cover of his annual NFL series for "John Madden Football," of which there have been 40 different editions since its inception. A year after contemporary stars Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes were featured as the first co-cover athletes in over a decade, the "Madden NFL 23" cover recreates the 1988 cover, in which John Madden is bursting through a chalkboard with Xs and Os while carrying a football, by surrounding the coach with silver and gold and a message: "Thank you, Coach."
Three different unique covers will be rolled out as part of the game's release, each of them highlighting a different chapter in Madden's lifelong impact on football. The "All Madden" edition features the reimagined original cover, with artwork from visual artist Chuck Styles.
As for the in-game tributes, Madden's voice will return to the game for the first time in more than a decade, thanks to remastered audio clips from his days as an award-winning broadcaster. "Madden NFL 23" will also feature a special Madden vs. Madden "interactive experience" that includes two versions of Madden leading two teams of "All-Madden athletes" against each other in the 1970 Oakland Coliseum, where Madden's Raiders advanced to the AFL Championship to cap a 12-1-1 season in 1969.
Electronic Arts has also announced plans to direct funds from a $5 million John Madden Legacy Commitment to Education donation revealed earlier this year, directing $2.5 million to four local education nonprofits and another $2.5 million to the creation of the EA Madden Scholarship, a partnership with the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) that will support graduates at 12 Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
EA Sports is also dedicating John Madden Field, a complex at the company's global headquarters in Redwood City, California, in honor of Madden's lifetime achievements, as part of its tribute around "Madden NFL 23," which is due out later this summer.