(WXIN) — The Madden video game is going back to its roots.
This year’s edition of the blockbuster football video game will feature its namesake coach on the cover.
It’s the first time John Madden — the colorful former coach and NFL broadcaster — has appeared on the cover of his own game in more than two decades.
Madden died in December at the age of 85. To honor his contributions to football, Madden NFL 23 will include three alternate cover images of the iconic coach, including a special All-Madden Edition reminiscent of the original cover featuring Madden bursting through X’s and O’s.
Each cover features the phrase, “Thanks, coach.”
Madden, a Hall of Fame coach with the Oakland Raiders, brought his boisterous personality and signature commentary into homes during Sunday NFL broadcasts spanning decades and multiple networks.
Electronic Arts, publisher of the bestselling sports franchise, made the announcement on June 1, which typically marks “Madden Day,” a day commemorating the launch of John Madden Football on June 1, 1988.
The game debuted on home computers and has since appeared on just about every video game console imaginable, from the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis to various generations of Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo consoles.
Madden appeared on the cover of every game through the release of Madden 2000. Starting with Madden 2001, EA Sports turned to a cover athlete. Titans running back Eddie George was the first.
Other cover athletes have included NFL greats Marshall Faulk, Ray Lewis, Brett Favre, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Madden made one additional return to the cover for “Madden NFL 07’s Hall of Fame Edition.”
EA Sports said in a statement:
When “Madden NFL 23” launches later this summer, the first interactive experience will feature two versions of Coach Madden leading opposing teams of “All Madden” athletes facing off in the 1970s Oakland Coliseum. In addition, the unforgettable voice of Coach Madden returns during the game in remastered audio clips that callback to his legendary days as a broadcaster.
EA Sports said it will reveal more ways to honor the late, great coach in Madden NFL 23 in the coming weeks. The game is expected to launch in August.