How John Madden Became the ‘Larger-Than-Life’ Face of a Gaming Empire

110 22/05/2022

Trip Hawkins first met John Madden in the dining car of an Amtrak train traveling from Denver to Oakland, Calif., in 1984, after Madden had agreed to lend his name and football prowess to a football simulation video game. Madden, the legendary coach and broadcaster, quickly made it clear who would be calling the shots.

Because of the limits of computer processing power, Hawkins, who had founded the gaming company Electronic Arts two years earlier, floated the idea of a video game with seven-on-seven football, rather than the 11-on-11 version used in the N.F.L. Madden just stared at him, and said “that isn’t really football,” Hawkins recalled. He had to agree.

“If it was going to be me and going to be pro football, it had to have 22 guys on the screen,” Madden once told ESPN. “If we couldn’t have that, we couldn’t have a game.”

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