After nearly 30 years of broadcasting NFL games, John Madden announced his retirement today. Football fans have grown to love (and sometimes loathe) Madden's boisterous style, his often-shameless rooting of his favorite players (most notably Brett Favre) and his inarguable passion for the game. Personally, I don't think there has been a finer NFL broadcasting combination than the duo of Pat Summerall and John Madden during their heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.
Sports game fans have come to associate the man with one of the best-selling sports series of all time, EA Sports' Madden NFL series. Madden's retirement from broadcasting, and the inevitable fade from public life that such an announcement means, brings up the inevitable question of the future of the "Madden" name in the Madden NFL series.
EA has flirted with the idea of dropping the Madden name from its premier football series in the past but the cache of the Madden name has proven to be remarkable. Far from being marginalized in the series in recent years, John Madden has actually had a bigger presence in the Madden series of late. In last year's Madden NFL 09, for example, Madden appeared as your virtual tour guide in the Madden IQ feature, which gauged your skill level in the game with a series of on-field challenges. While it's possible that Madden could continue to have a presence in the game post-retirement, it wouldn't surprise me to see him begin gradually backing away from these kinds of obligations.
So where does EA Sports go from here with the Madden brand? Do they stick with the "Madden" name for the forseeable future, trusting that the brand itself is recognizable enough to stand without the real John Madden appearing on our television sets every Sunday night? Do they decide to finally make the switch and change the name to something more in line with the rest of its sports lineup? Will we see next year's game simply known as EA Sports' NFL 11?
How long do you think the Madden name will stick around in EA Sports' football franchise?