The name John Madden evokes different memories depending on what generation you’re from.
For those that remember his Raiders teams of the 70s, they’ll likely think first of the young, fresh-faced coach who won a Super Bowl in Oakland and compiled a 103-32-7 record in his decade as the Raiders head coach. Those from the 80s and 90s will remember him most fondly as a color commentator, most notably teaming with Pat Summerall and later Al Michaels to forge the soundtrack of the NFL in the minds of so many. And for a younger generation, his name is simply synonymous with the video game that bears his name.
The Madden franchise with EA Sports is the most popular sports video game in the country, even with annual frustrations, gathering a legion of fans and grossing massive sales — thanks in part to being the only NFL simulation game out there. For John Madden, it is something he’s immensely proud of and he still keeps tabs on his namesake game, recently speaking with ESPN’s Michael Rothstein about the evolution of the game. In that interview, the former coach explained how he would look to use the game if he were coaching today, noting he thinks there’s a scouting element the game provides that he’d want to tap into.
“You know what I would do? I would kind of do the same thing that I thought when we first started this — I would have a couple of young guys that are good, good Madden players, and hire them and put them on my staff,” Madden said. “And each week I would have them play our opponent. If the Raiders are playing Kansas City, I’d have one of them be the Raiders and one of them be Kansas City. And then I would run our players against their defenses and their defenses against our players. And I’d have them just check that out and then write up — this was good, this was bad, had trouble here and trouble there. I don’t know how much I would use it, but that’s what I would do.”
From Madden’s lips to your favorite coaches ears. Finally, all those years of racking up wins and honing your craft on the virtual gridiron could possibly make all those joke social media posts about applying for open coaching jobs by listing your Madden or NCAA Football accomplishments a reality.
I don’t foresee this actually happening, in part because while the game attempts to be realistic, it isn’t exactly always dialed to opponents tendencies in the moment, but it’s an interesting anecdote from a man uniquely qualified to speak on both NFL coaching and the Madden video game franchise. Scouting opponents might not be the best use for the game, but self-scouting could work, as it might be more telling to look at whether trying different things with a player on your team would allow them to tap into their potential more.