The conversation heavily dominated the leadup to the Super Bowl 55 in February: How does the new GOAT (greatest of all time) compare to the old?
EA Sports opted not to settle for just one.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady and Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes are jointly starring on the cover of “Madden NFL 22,” the company announced Thursday morning. Both quarterbacks are receiving this “Madden” honor for a second time, Mahomes gracing the popular video game’s cover two years ago. Brady last appeared on the “Madden NFL 18” billing.
“It’s obviously very cool to be selected,” Brady told USA TODAY Sports by phone. “I’ve loved the game. I’ve loved EA Sports. They were a big part of my life growing up. … To see what this ‘Madden’ franchise has become over the years is incredible — how it’s evolved and changed, and how the technology’s changed and how they’ve really built an online community of players.
“The growth of gaming in general has been pretty historical and unreal.”
“Madden NFL 22” will launch August 20 with new features including Next Gen Stats star-driven artificial intelligence to shape strategically informed decisions. Team and opponent tendencies will evolve in real time over the course of the NFL season.
“It’s so real (that) I see plays we run on there,” Brady said. “The people who create the game and the engineers are watching real games. They’re watching real plays, real defenses and real blitzes so you can definitely gain a very intense understanding of the game by playing it.”
The dynamic gameday experience will include new on-field reactions from players to simulate gameday atmosphere and gameday momentum updates like a mechanic for a home field advantage boost. Franchise Mode has also evolved to allow for deeper management, more weekly strategy and skill tree progressions to guide play-calling. Does that sound like a lot to keep up with? Brady thinks so.
“When I was playing, it was still simple,” Brady said. “Now there’s so many different aspects…that you have to work hard to understand. In some ways, the game has passed me by. Certainly my teammates are way better at it than me, but that’s OK.”
Brady said he and Mahomes joked “quite a bit” during the “Madden 22” cover shoot, Brady appreciating how Mahomes “doesn’t take himself too seriously.” They reminded the shoot director to keep in mind they’re each recovering from offseason surgery (Mahomes’ toe, Brady’s knee). Mahomes said he and Brady are “eager” for fans to explore new immersive features.
“I, like most players in the League, have been a big fan of Madden NFL for as long as I can remember,” Mahomes said in a statement. “To be on the cover — not only for a second time, but also with Tom Brady, an all-time great — is surreal.”
Brady said he lent advice to the young-but-already-accomplished quarterback, whom Brady has encouraged for years including in the Arrowhead Stadium bowels after the Chiefs’ Jan. 2019 overtime loss to the Patriots in the AFC championship game.
“I think we have a trusting relationship, and I think he knows he can count on me,” Brady said. “I’ve probably been through a lot of things that he either has experienced or will experience in his career. So, not that I have all the answers, but I do have a little bit of wisdom and experience. When people ask, I’m usually pretty forthcoming with some of that stuff.
“He’s got a very, very bright future ahead with huge expectations and I think so highly of him. I know he’ll accomplish whatever goals he really sets out to achieve.”
And yet, Brady is doubtful he’ll achieve one goal as “Madden 22” hits stores: beating his kids.
“My kids are pretty good at it,” Brady said. “They kick my butt, so that’s just the way it goes.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jori Epstein on Twitter @JoriEpstein.