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Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Madden Curse Struck John Madden, RIP

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Plus, some questions for the future.

You may have heard that American football legend John Madden died on December 28, a couple of days ago, at the age of 85 years old. His actual coaching feats earlier in his life became eclipsed by his name being the name of the Electronic Arts-published best-selling game franchise, Madden NFL. As a result, you can get a quick summary of what kind of fellow John Madden was from his memorial tweet:

John Madden commentated in the Madden NFL games until Madden NFL 09, eventually being replaced by Cris Collinsworth. That was a while ago, but his name was still on the games, and he always seemed happy about being synonymous with football. Madden NFL extended the appeal of the sport to a vastly wider audience than what would've been without it, and he's a cultural icon that way.

Here's how the market responded to the last Madden NFL game released before his death, Madden NFL 22:

Madden NFL 22 PlayStation 5 Metacritic User Score 0.6 review bomb
...Oh. That's awkward.

I get the feeling that John Madden likely wasn't pleased with one of his main legacies being widely reviled by players, since Electronic Arts refuses to iterate much between releases of the annualised franchise, and the player base perceives this to be a problem. Maybe it's fitting that users who say EA is copy-pasting the same game every year are copy-pasting their negative review across all of the platforms Madden NFL 22 is available on. If only the XFL return didn't immediately die, then American football could have alternative options besides EA's low-effort monopoly.

As a result, maybe John Madden needed to shift his legacy a bit. Movies could work. There was originally supposed to be a whole movie about the “Madden Curse”, the idea that athletes who appear on a Madden NFL cover because they're really good and popular then do terribly in their real life sport the following year. But there weren't any updates on the movie's development. It took over a year of KoopaTV doing real investigative journalism that no other outlet was doing to get an EA executive to state that they are not working on a Madden Curse movie. I should note that KoopaTV is normally a commentary outlet based on journalism that already exists. We're not supposed to do our own investigations. But we did and it put KoopaTV on the map, if we weren't on there already.

Regardless, John Madden did get a movie with his name on it. Well, a for-TV documentary, but good enough. It's called All Madden by Fox Sports and it premiered on Christmas Day 2021—mere days before John Madden died. It also reran today in honour of John Madden's passing, though I didn't see it either time. Madden saw the finished product before dying, of course, but they were cutting it pretty close, weren't they? They didn't know he was going to die at that time. ...Or did they...?

Since I'm thinking back to KoopaTV and Madden NFL, I remember I made a big deal about how they went from Madden NFL 13 to Madden NFL 25 to Madden NFL 15. They just finished Madden NFL 22, so... we're soon going to find out what they do for 2024, right?

They could drop the Madden name altogether and stop dragging the guy's name through the mud of poor products. Or change it for what would be the second Madden NFL 25 to be some kind of tribute edition. I'd like if they just end the franchise and put it out of its misery, but I'm sure EA would never go for that! I suppose with how samey the series is, they could just re-release the first Madden NFL 25 in 2024 and maybe no one would notice anything out of line.

The problem with this kind of article is that Ludwig doesn't have any care and barely any knowledge regarding American football, so he can't write a nice memorial for John Madden. But this is a videogame website, so of course it has to take that angle. And since it's KoopaTV specifically, Madden Curse has to play a big part.


  1. Aw man, Rest In Peace.

    There’s no way they could drop the Madden level now, that’d be guaranteed suicide. I’m not into sports games but I definitely know the madden game and would probably go to one of them first if I wanted to get into those kinds of games. The Harvest Moon series lost the right to that name years ago, now their called somthing along the lines of “friends of mineral town”. A lot of people know Harvest moon, nobody talks about friends of mineral town. In that sense I think they’ll keep madden but I certainly think it’s only going to defile his legacy more. The last games have all looked like carbon copy’s of each other. Good job on your investigative work, I always enjoy seeing this kinda stuff.

    On another note, did you know that George Micheal, leader of Wham! and singer of “Last Christmas”, died on Christmas? The more y’know.

    1. "Story of Seasons" is the new name of the brand. Friends of Mineral Town is a sub-title for one of them. Originally, there was Harvest Moon: Friends of Mineral Town in 2003, and when it was remade for 2020, it was renamed Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town.
      But there are other (new) Story of Seasons games, most recently Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town.

      I should make a work of art dedicated to every day of the year. That way, I have a 100% chance of my legacy being that kind of trivia point and it'll be considered mystical.


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