How Often Does a Player Get Paralyzed in Madden?

This is the rara avis of outcomes in Madden NFL—the career-ending injury. It is the sports video game equivalent of permadeath, and yes, it'll actually happen in your living room, although I have never seen this myself.

EA Sports' Madden NFL Twitter retweeted that image earlier today. A fan named Tyler said he'd "played madden for 14 years," and this was the first time he'd ever seen it: A broken neck (or back), along with everything that implies by a career ended on the spot. I know this has never happened to me or anyone I control—and my Connected Franchise running back plays without a facemask.

I called down to EA Sports this morning to ask if they could shed light on how often this sort of thing should happen. They didn't seem enthusiastic about answering the question and, indeed, the retweet was removed after my call, perhaps not coincidentally. Catastrophic injuries are a touchy subject with the game's licensor, after all.

But a couple of years ago, Madden introduced some booth dialogue warning against concussions whenever the game decided a player got one, and anyone caught by that kind of a dice roll was immediately taken out of the game, per the changes made to league injury policy then. The game's executive producer at the time indicated that Madden's injury algorithm tries to spit out injuries at about the same rate, per-play, as they occur in real life. (NFL 2K5 was criticized for an unreasonable frequency of career-ending injuries.)

Career-ending injuries in the real-life NFL are, of course, not uncommon, but the reality of it typically manifests over some period of time in which the player attempts a comeback and doesn't make it. Rarer still are the injuries that appear to have befallen A.J. Green here (on the Eagles either in some future league scenario, or in an Ultimate Team game) in which a player goes down and his career is ended on the spot. Buffalo's Kevin Everett, whose neck was broken in kickoff coverage in 2007, is a memorable example of this.

The fact it happens in a video game is, on one hand, weirdly commendable—it reflects reality, after all—and on the other, downright bone-chilling. The good news? It's just a video game. You can always punch the power off and reload and your player will be good as new when you get back.

To contact the author of this post, write to owen@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @owengood.