John Madden thinks NFL teams can benefit from hiring Madden players

Sport

John Madden was a Super Bowl-winning coach long before football video games existed, but now that football’s iconic video game bears his name, Madden thinks there could be a connection between gaming and coaching.

Madden told ESPN that if he were coaching today, he’d assign assistant coaches to play the Madden game in preparation for upcoming opponents.

“I would have a couple of young guys that are good, good Madden players, and hire them and put them on my staff,” Madden said. “And each week I would have them play our opponent. If the Raiders are playing Kansas City, I’d have one of them be the Raiders and one of them be Kansas City. And then I would run our players against their defenses and their defenses against our players. And I’d have them just check that out and then write up — this was good, this was bad, had trouble here and trouble there. I don’t know how much I would use it, but that’s what I would do.”

Some old-school coaches would scoff at the idea that gamers can teach them anything about the sport, but a gamer who has played thousands of Madden games has encountered all sorts of situations that could help with thinking through strategies, clock management, play calling and all the in-game decisions that coaches only get a chance to practice 16 times a year. The Madden game has now been around for decades, and the youngest generation of NFL coaches grew up on it, and it has helped shape their approach to the sport. The 84-year-old Madden is happy to have that as part of his legacy.