On our first road trip of the 2014 season out in the Bay Area to face Oakland, our hotel just happened to be a stone's throw away from Electronics Arts, the company known for its outstanding video game production. Known to most as EA Sports, the California company built its empire on the back of one game known universally as THE best sports video game to ever enter the marketplace: Madden. I remember walking to the store down the street, passing the building, just staring at it and giving thanks for creating such a gem.
The game is an icon in the football community with players, gamers, fans and followers playing the game throughout the world. It's not "just" a video game, either. A player's overall ranking is met with such scrutiny from the players themselves; that "overall" rating truly means something. One of my favorite days on the calendar is the day Madden is released and seeing current players opine on social media as to their rating in the game. I remember when the 2009 version was released, our pal, Texans receiver David Anderson was the lowest ranked player in the game. He was HOT about that and, of course, my radio partner and I needled him endlessly, getting well under his skin about it. This game is more than just a game. It's ingrained in our collective football cerebellum and it's been a fixture for the past three decades.
And, it'll be that way for another half decade too, at a minimum. On Thursday, at the NFL Owners' virtual meetings, the NFL agreed to a new rights deal with EA Sports through the 2026 version of the game. It's going to be a five year extension, that is worth, well, a lot of cheese. There have been other suitors that want in on the NFL video game party, so to speak, but the NFL has cast its lot with EA Sports and Madden and for good reason.
The game itself has been a lifeline for many in the gaming community during this pandemic and we even got in on the fun, broadcasting a win for the Texans over the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday night.
I remember getting the first Madden game, which was only available on computer, thirty years ago and I never imagined that 30 years later I would announce a virtual football game with Marc and Andre. But, we did and it was a blast.
Thanks to the NFL's continued relationship with Madden, we'll definitely do more of this in the future.