Seems only the fawning sports press has love for Brett Favre anymore. He's worn out his welcome in New York, and now comes word Electronic Arts considered pulling him from the Madden 09 cover.
In testimony during the class-action lawsuit against the National Football League Players Association, over royalties owed to retired players whose likenesses were used in Madden, EA's Joel Linzer said they made the decision to put Favre on the cover before he announced his retirement. When Favre announced his retirement, they considered replacing him with an active player, then bulled ahead and kept him on the cover. He later unretired.
Q: ... Madden NFL Game. And, in fact, that's been a very successful game for EA, correct?
Linzer: Yes, over 20 years.
Q: Twenty years. In fact, the 2009 version was the 20th anniversary edition, right?
Linzer: It's the 20th of the Madden NFL series, that's correct.
Q: Right. And you chose to put on the cover of that a retired player at the time, right?
Linzer: Uhm, well, Brett Favre at the time we decided to put him on the cover was not retired, had not announced his retirement. He subsequently announced his retirement. We thought about replacing him to have an active player. But the logistics of making the packages are kind of complicated, and we decided to stay with Brett Favre. And I think as most people subsequently know, he revoked his retirement and is currently an active player with the New York Jets.
What's intriguing is the timing of it all. Favre's retirement was announced March 4, 2008. So EA had committed to him before then, and decided to suck it up and leave him on the cover in his Packers uniform when they announced this to the public on April 24. It sort of retconned the marketing for this game, the 20th anniversary edition, into something of a longer or more historic context. Everyone - including the lawyers for the retired players, as you can see - assumed Favre was picked because he was retired. Why not? A living legend would be appropriate for an anniversary edition, and so much was made of the use of an inactive player.
But then Favre unretired in July, and was reinstated in August weeks before Madden 09's release. Which means EA got the active player it originally wanted, except now he was playing for a different team, which dents the marketing reason for Favre on the cover. (Though EA did produce an alternate cover for gamers to download and print.)
So Favre bent them over twice. It's kind of funny but it also speaks to the fact that Favre had more than just his own self-fulfillment to consider, or even just his contract with the Packers. He had a marketing contract elsewhere that depended on his active status, then changed twice to accommodate him.
I'm guessing that in the future, for EA or any sports publisher, any athlete who remotely hints at retirement in the preceding season is going to be disqualified from cover eligibility no matter how desirable he is. They're going to make damn sure an active guy stays active and a retired guy stays retired.
EA Considered Dumping Brett Favre From Madden 09 Cover [GamePolitics]