NFL free agent Colin Kaepernick is going to get his shot. The publicized Black Lives Matter activist is finally returning to Madden 21 as a playable character and had received overwhelming support from fans of the franchise and the heroic quarterback.
Colin Kaepernick Returns to Madden NFL 21
On Tuesday, EA Sports’ Madden social media handles announced the huge news. The organization credited its close-knit bond with Kap and determination to let fans play as him for any team in franchise mode as key reasons for the decision.
“Colin Kaepernick is one of the top free agents in football and a starting-caliber quarterback. The team at EA SPORTS, along with millions of Madden NFL fans, want to see him back in our game. We’ve had a long relationship with Colin through Madden NFL and worked through our past soundtrack mistakes. Knowing that our EA Sports experiences are platforms for players to create, we want to make Madden NFL a place that reflects Colin’s position and talent, rates him as a starting QB, and empowers our fans to express their hopes for the future of football. We’ve worked with Colin to make this possible, and we’re excited to bring it to all of you today. Starting today in Madden NFL 2, fans can put Colin Kaepernick at the helm of any NFL team in Franchise mode, as well as play with him in Play Now. We look forward to seeing Colin on Madden NFL teams everywhere.”
Long Time Coming
Over the years, the video game franchise didn’t have the rights to add Kaepernick to the game. It all stemmed from his free agency and Madden’s relationship with the NFL.
EA worked with Kaepernick to get the rights to use his likeness and to craft his appearance in the game, according to The Undefeated. EA apparently lost the rights to Kaepernick’s likeness when he was listed as a free agent since the company negotiates with the NFL Players Association. EA Sports specifically reached out to Kaepernick to bring him back for this year’s game. Kaepernick hasn’t been signed by an NFL team since he started kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 to protest the way the United States “oppresses black people and people of color.” The NFL pushed back on Kaepernick’s protest for years and even voted to require players to stand during the anthem. In recent months, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has finally acknowledged the league’s mistake in trying to suppress players’ protests, saying the league “should have listened sooner.” (The Verge)
The Madden Soundtrack Controversy
In August 2018, Madden caught a huge L after editing out a Kaepernick reference on its in-game soundtrack. Prior to making things right, the game had censored Colin’s name-drop from rap star YG‘s “Big Bank” smash.
“I want my homie Colin Kaepernick to know that I ain’t have nothing to do with that Madden sh*t. I ain’t approve that, Big Sean ain’t approve that, Nicki Minaj ain’t approve that, motherf*cking 2 Chainz ain’t approve that. We ain’t got nothing to do with that. I support you. I’ve been supporting you. EA Sports, NFL, whoever, y’all owe me, Big Sean, 2 Chainz and Nicki Minaj and the homie Kaepernick an apology. That’s what it is. 400. I’ll be looking for an apology soon.” -YG
EA Publicly Apologizes for Big Bank Verse
The video game giant eventually came forward with an open apology. It also made sure the uncensored version of “Big Bank” played with Kap’s reference included.
“We made an unfortunate mistake with our Madden NFL soundtrack,” EA said in a statement issued Thursday evening. “Members of our team misunderstood the fact that while we don’t have rights to include Colin Kaepernick in the game, this doesn’t affect soundtracks. We messed up, and the edit should never have happened. We will make it right, with an update to Madden NFL 19 on August 6 that will include the reference again. We meant no disrespect, and we apologize to Colin, to YG and Big Sean, to the NFL, to all of their fans and our players for this mistake.” (ESPN)