John Madden returns to the cover of Madden NFL for the first time in more than 20 years

Madden NFL 23
(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

The very first John Madden Football launched for the Apple 2 on June 1, 1988, kicking off one of the most successful and longest-running videogame series of all time. 34 years later, on June 1, 2022, Electronic Arts has announced that the legendary NFL coach and commentator, who died in December 2021 at age 85, will return to take the cover of Madden NFL 23.

"Coach Madden has been synonymous with the sport of football for more than 50 years and to honor his legacy for the next generation, Coach Madden returns to the cover of Madden NFL 23 for the first time in more than two decades," Electronic Art said.

Madden NFL 23 will be available in three different covers, each of which will "pay tribute to a different chapter in Coach Madden’s unforgettable life." One shows Madden celebrating after coaching the Oakland Raiders to victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Super Bowl XI in 1977; another showcases Madden in his later-career analyst role, drawing play patterns on a simulated glass screen; and the third, for the All Madden Edition, is a throwback to the original John Madden NFL cover, created by artist Chuck Styles. Each of the covers bears a note saying, "Thanks, coach."

This will be Madden's first appearance on an NFL game bearing his name since Madden 2000, released in 1999. He had been on every cover prior to that, but in 2001 EA began using NFL players for Madden cover art instead—a switch that also gave us the infamous Madden Curse.

Madden NFL 23 will be fully unveiled with a reveal trailer that will go live tomorrow, June 2, at 10 am ET.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.