John Madden Has Arrived

The return of sports’ official arbiter of cool.

Madden NFL 2005arrives in video-game stores today, and newspapers are reporting dense concentrations of pimply faced youth. Last year, Chris Suellentrop wrote that Madden had transcended nerd culture. The game is “the new Nike, sports’ official arbiter of cool.” The cover of the Madden case has become the most precious real estate in sports, trumping the Wheaties box and the Sports Illustrated cover. NFL players bond during marathon gaming sessions in which they compete with their digital doppelgängers. One running back admits to playing six hours of Madden per day during the season and nearly twice that during the off-season.

With Madden’s popularity comes the dreaded Madden cover jinx: The cover athlete inevitably suffers a horrifying injury. Ray Lewis, be very afraid.