Growing Up With EA Sports' Madden Football

Dwan SamuelCorrespondent IAugust 12, 2008

One summer day in South Carolina, Landis went to the gym with his friends. I was left with my Aunt, Uncle, and little sister. Landis usually allowed me to tag along, but for some reason, I did not go to the gym with him. 

I was confused, bored, and inquisitive while waiting for my cousin and his friends to return. On the floor below the television stand was his Sega, but Sonic the Hedgehog was not in the system. It was some other game. It was a game that I had watched my cousins play, but I was clueless about the entire concept.

It was Madden.

As I picked up the controller in 1990 and began to play, I had no idea that my life would, at that moment, make a drastic change. 

I had to figure the game out on my own and slowly, but surely, I did. I began by simply pushing buttons and quickly figuring out what buttons corresponded to different actions.

When I heard my cousin coming into the house that day, I quickly turned his Sega off so that I wouldn’t get into trouble for playing his Sega without asking. At that point, it was too late. I craved football.

I began to watch football on Sundays and would ask tons of questions to any boy or man that I thought knew anything about the game because I was convinced that it would help me to conquer the Madden game.

Madden became my secret obsession because the few boys that I told would tell me that Madden was for boys. I played in the quiet of the bedroom and slowly turned my attention from Michael Jordan and the NBA to the NFL.

Madden was my place of refuge. 

In the early ‘90s, I found myself turning the game on when I saw too many disturbing images of soldiers fighting in the Middle East. 

In 1994, I played to drown out the racism in my small town in South Carolina all because of a Confederate flag that flew atop the state capital building. 

From 1997-1999, I played as often as possible because my love of football had grown, and because I was sick of hearing about President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s dress.

I began college in 2000 and played Madden because I was a freshman at Florida State University, where I knew no one. 

The attacks on the World Trade Centers in 2001 were tough, but I found time to play in order to take my mind off of the fear that had overcome the nation.

In 2002, a new era of Madden began for me. I found a Madden partner. My good friend at the time, Robert, played Madden just as much, if not more than, me. He was the first boy (well, man by that time) that ever accepted the fact that I loved Madden, and it was a major part of my life. We played constantly, and he was my most worthy opponent, so I had to raise my skill level. 

Because of Rob’s acceptance of my love of football and Madden coupled with his constant encouragement, I have been able to embark on a journey into the world of football that has become soul satisfying.

I once thought that I was using Madden to drown out all of the noise that surrounded me on a daily basis in a world of uncertainty, but looking back, I know that when I turned on Madden, it was my private time of reflection. 

I could reflect on all of the major events around the world, while contemplating how my generation could make it better. I was able to put life into perspective and use Madden and football as my analogy to life.

I learned to overcome all the noise around me and instead of drowning it out; I could fight to change it.

I was not running away from the world, I was learning to look at it in a different way.

As I stood in line last night, I couldn’t help looking at all of the men that were awaiting Madden. The youngest appeared to be in his pre-teens and the oldest appeared to be in his 40s. I saw blacks, whites, and Hispanics. 

Not to get too “we are the world,” but it was nice to be amongst a diverse group of people who could laugh and share Madden stories with no negativity involved. 

The success of Madden over the years is well deserved. I thank EA Sports for 20 great years of Madden and wish them 200 more amazing years of the game.