How John Madden Built the EA Football Franchise Game

How John Madden Built the EA Football Franchise Game

John Madden was born in Minnesota and was raised in California to a blue collar family. In highschool, Madden was a star athlete. He was a perennial star athlete in football, basketball, and baseball.

He had a tough time choosing a sport to stick to in college. Madden was a two-sport athlete at San Mateo College. He entered college with the sole goal to play in the NFL. After transferring 3 times in a 4 year period, Madden got drafted by the Eagles as the 244 pick in the 1958 NFL draft.

Madden unfortunately hurt his knee during preseason which ended his football career.

Madden wouldn’t let a career ending injury define him. He took his love for football, and a degree in education to kick off his coaching career as an assistant coach at Hancock College.

His notorious attention to detail started to make a name for himself in coaching. Within 7 years at Hancock, Madden was hired by Al Davis of the Oakland Raiders as a linebackers coach.

Madden built an illustrious coaching resume during his time as an NFL head coach. Madden's resume highlights:


  • 103 -32-7 record
  • .762 winning percentage (2nd of all time)
  • Super  Bowl XI Champion

After experiencing coaching burnout, Madden retired from coaching in 1978. He accepted a NFL commentator position a year later. Madden loved commentating, and he was elite at it. But that’s not what he was known for.

EA sports approached him in 1982 with an idea.EA approached John Madden in 1982 with the idea of creating a video game. 

Madden was skeptical at first, but he agreed as he saw it was a way to educate fans on the game of football.

Madden was a perfectionist.

EA spent years working on a prototype of the game. After seeing the prototype, Madden immediately shutdown the prototype. Madden was upset that it didn’t integrate his NFL playbook. He made EA start the game over.

7 years later, and after numerous revisions, “John Madden Football” was released in 1988.

Since its release in 19988, the “Madden'' franchise has sold over $130 million copies. It has generated an estimated $4 billion in revenue.

The best part is that in 2005, John Madden agreed to license his name and likeness in perpetuity for a reported $150 million and $5 million in annual endorsements fees.

Madden is one of the greatest coaches in NFL history, but it’s estimated that less than 10% of his $400 million net worth came from coaching.

Takeaway: Pursue your dreams with relentless passion but always be open to new opportunities that present themselves in front of you. 

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