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Aaron Donald’s 99 rating in Madden 21

The LA Rams star was an obvious choice to be the highest-rated player

John Madden was a football coach and then he was a broadcaster and then they made a video game with his likeness and used his name. From Wikipedia:

In 1984 Hawkins approached Madden. He and game producer Joe Ybarra arranged a follow-up meeting with the broadcaster during an Amtrak train trip over two days because of Madden’s fear of flying. The EA executives promised that the proposed game would be a sophisticated football simulation, and asked the retired Oakland Raiders coach for his endorsement and expertise. Madden knew nothing about computers beyond his telestrator but agreed; he had taught a class at the University of California, Berkeley called “Football for Fans”, and envisioned the program as a tool for teaching and testing plays. (Madden continues to see the game as an educational tool. When asked in 2012 to describe Madden NFL, he called it “a way for people to learn the game and participate in the game at a pretty sophisticated level”.) Hawkins and Ybarra during the train trip learned football plays and strategies from Madden from sunrise to midnight.

EA likely expected Madden to endorse the game without participating in its design. Early plans envisioned six or seven players per team because of technical limitations but Madden insisted on having 11 players, stating “I’m not putting my name on it if it’s not real.” Ybarra, who had played chess, not football, in high school, became an expert on the subject through his work, but found that 11 players overwhelmed contemporary home computers. Most projects that are as delayed as Madden are canceled; Ybarra and developer Robin Antonick needed three years, more than twice the length of the average development process. The project became known within the company as “Trip’s Folly”, and Madden believed at times that EA had given up.

The company hired Bethesda Softworks to finish the game, but this only got them partway to their goal. While EA used many of its designs, including contributions to their physics engine, within a year Bethesda stopped working on Madden and sued EA over EA’s failure to publish new versions of Bethesda’s Gridiron! football game. This added to the delay. After a final development push, John Madden Football debuted in 1988 for the Apple II series of computers. Hawkins and an exhausted Ybarra (“All my memories are of pain”) were able to move on to other projects.

Madden provided EA the 1980 Raiders playbook, and EA hired San Francisco Chronicle writer Frank Cooney, who had designed his own figurine football game with numerical skill ratings. Although the company could not yet legally use NFL teams’ or players’ names, Cooney obtained real plays from NFL teams. The back of the box called the game “The First Real Football Simulation” and quoted Madden: “Hey, if there aren’t 11 players, it isn’t real football.” Documentation included diagrams of dozens of offensive and defensive plays with Madden’s commentary on coaching strategies and philosophy. The game sold moderately well but given the sophisticated playbook its interface was complex, and Madden’s insistence on 11 players caused the game to run slowly.

During this period, Madden turned down the opportunity to buy an “unlimited” number of options for EA stock in its initial public offering, a decision he later called “the dumbest thing I ever did in my life”.

Madden reportedly could have had the shares at $7.50 each and as of July 2018, they were at $150 per share. Madden signed a $150 million deal plus royalties.

Anyways, the video game gives their video game characters a rating out of 99. This has an impact on the video game Madden 21 and nowhere else. Four players were given a rating of 99 this year and one of those was of course Aaron Donald.

John Madden is 84 years old.