Football legend John Madden’s legacy in tech

For those of us who will never play professional football, Madden helped make the next best thing.

PASADENA, CA- JANUARY 9: John Madden, head coach of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after the Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI on January 9, 1977 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.The Raiders won the Super Bowl 32-14. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Boom! (Source: Focus On Sport via Getty Images)

For the millions who love but will never play professional football, John Madden — who sadly passed away Tuesday at 85 — helped build the next best thing.

“John Madden Football” was developed by Electronic Arts in 1988. EA’s creator, Trip Hawkins, was known as “junior Steve Jobs” and was Employee No. 68 at a small startup called Apple Computer.

EA needed a football consultant…

… and Madden — a Super Bowl-winning NFL coach and Emmy-winning broadcaster — was actually the company’s 3rd choice (Joe Montana was the 1st, but he had a deal with Atari).

Madden saw the game’s potential to be used as a tool to learn football, so he signed on.

After a late-1980s launch, Hawkins offered Madden the chance to buy EA stock — pre IPO. But Madden turned him down.

Oops

“That was the dumbest thing I ever did in my life,” Madden said. Today, EA has a market cap of $37.6B and the Madden franchise has sold 130m+ games.

Madden’s impact on NFL players and fans is remarkable. In 2020, the NFL and its players’ union signed a $1.5B deal with EA, $500m of which will go to players.

And as for fans, they’re just hoping EA will honor Madden properly.

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