Bill Belichick is not like other NFL head coaches. Not only is he widely considered as the greatest among them, he also regularly does things differently than his brethren. Whether it is tactical decisions, press conferences, or team building, Belichick has his own style.
This is also the reason why he is not part of Madden NFL.
EA Sports’ Madden was first introduced in 1988 and since then has developed into the most successful football-based video game franchise in the world. It has taken on a life of its own, at times. Its ratings are a big deal for gamers and NFL players alike, while its cover release has turned into an anticipated and widely reported event.
Belichick does not seem to care, however. After all, the New England Patriots’ head coach has not been part of the video game series since 2005 and has been replaced by the likes of “NE Coach” or randomly named characters such as Chad Masters, Josh Moore, Griffin Murphy and Hal Ophamer.
The topic was brought up during a press conference in 2015, leading to this truly magnificent exchange:
Q: Since you were in the coaches’ picture, are you going to be in the Madden game?
BB: What Madden game?
Q: John Madden has this video game...
BB: I have no idea. You should ask John about that.
Whether he knows it or not, there is a simple explanation behind his absence from the game: Belichick’s decision to leave the NFL Coaches Association.
EA Sports, according to Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel, has a licensing deal with the NFLCA since 2001 which allows the game developer to use names and likeness of its members who in turn get compensated. It is basically the same with the NFL Players Association: if you are part of either union you are all but guaranteed to be part of the game as well.
Belichick is not a member of the union, however, so EA Sports had to get creative and come up with some replacement options.
The logical follow-up question is why Belichick has opted out of the NFLCA? He was part of it earlier during his career, as noted above, which also led to him being featured in some earlier versions of Madden NFL (and, as pointed out by Courtney Fallon, looking more like former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi than himself):
At one point and for reasons unknown, however, Belichick decided to leave the NFLCA. It might have had something to do with his long-time mentor Bill Parcells also not being a part of the union, but it seems more likely that his disdain for the oftentimes circus-like hubbub surrounding the game is the reason behind it.
Regardless of his motivation, Belichick is marching to the beat of his own drum even if its sound seems unconventional at times. It has allowed him to build the only dynasty of he NFL’s salary cap era, though, and earned him more money than he would ever get if re-joining the union and getting depicted in Madden NFL.
Maybe this will change; Belichick is not the stubborn man he often appears to be and has shown a willingness to adapt his ways. For now, however, those purchasing Madden NFL will have to continue to work with “NE Coach” or whichever name EA Sports comes up with next.