LOS ANGELES — In a homage to its namesake, the cover of the Madden NFL 23 video game will have one person on it: John Madden.
Madden, the Hall of Fame coach who died Dec. 28, will be on the cover of all three editions of this year's game, which will be released in August. It's the first time in over two decades that Madden will be the focal point of the cover, which has trended toward using current athletes.
"We were thinking about this year's game and who was going to go on it; it almost became an obvious answer," Seann Graddy, the executive producer of Madden NFL, told ESPN. "I say that because we really wanted to celebrate Coach in the product this year and what he's meant to us for the 30-plus years that we've been using his name in our game."
Madden last was the main cover person for the 2000 edition of the game, which was released in 1999. He appeared in a small box in the next four editions of the game with his signature and the All Madden logo off to the side of the main cover athlete before disappearing from the cover for Madden NFL 06, which featured Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.
Graddy told ESPN that putting Madden on the cover has been discussed only for this year's game, but said, "Anything is possible, to be honest," about putting the former coach on the cover in the future.
The All Madden cover -- one of the three covers this year -- is reminiscent of the original John Madden Football, released on June 1, 1988. That cover had a young, sandy-haired Madden holding a football and making a hole through a diagram of X's and O's on a chalkboard with the game's name across the top of the box.
The cover for the All Madden edition has a similar-looking young Madden holding a football busting through what appears to be a paper full of X's and O's. On the side of the cover, in white lettering, is "Thanks, Coach."