For fans of the NFL, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to engaging with your favorite team. Whether attending live games, betting on the underdog, or getting involved in a fantasy league, fandom remains exciting and interactive.
Much like a fantasy league, football video games bring spectators even closer to the game. However, fans aren’t the only people interested in picking up a controller. Within the NFL, many players have a favorite video game series that they play almost daily—and not all of them are playing Madden.
Whether players are founding their own video game teams or forming impromptu post-training gaming groups, one thing is clear: the NFL pairs well with video games.
As esports tournaments and conferences become popular and lucrative, more and more athletes and leagues are showing interest in virtual sports. The NBA, for instance, has multiple franchises that either partially or fully own successful video game teams. The NFL isn’t far behind.
Take Dalton Schultz of the Dallas Cowboys, who learned to design video games in college before going pro. He has an entire YouTube channel dedicated to live streaming his forays with CoD, Minecraft, and Titanfall.
Then there’s Roger Saffold. As a starting guard that’s in the eleventh year of his tenure with the NFL, it’s good sense that Saffold has expanded his horizons in terms of career. Though he was part of a Super Bowl run with the LA Rams, he’s hoping to boost his new franchise’s NFL odds this season with the Tennessee Titans.
No matter what his future holds with the NFL, Saffold doesn’t need to worry about future job prospects. He’s already the creator of Rise Nation, a successful competitive video gaming team.
NFL players enjoy competition. Whether that involves attacking a zombie army in Minecraft or figuring out how to get through the Baltimore Ravens’ defensive line, the urge to push and succeed is what makes a great athlete.
In addition to players getting involved with their own business endeavors related to live streaming or building a top-notch e-sports team, there are a few common games beloved by most players. These include CoD, Madden, and LoL.
Much like the New Orleans Saints infatuation with anime like Dragon Ball Z and Naruto, the squad also spends time playing Super Smash Bros. Even after a big game, like winning the NFC Championship, players gather in small groups to play Smash Bros and relax.
Did we mention there’s a video game setup in the locker room itself? So long as quarterback Drew Brees and head coach Sean Payton consider it a team-building activity, the GameCube is likely to stay.
NFL Franchise Video Games
Compared to the video game industry, the NFL is a fledgling, cult hobby. Though the league rakes in around $14 billion per year, the video game industry (in the US alone) is worth nearly triple that at $43 billion.
And while the NFL is expanding internationally through its International Series, the gaming industry is moving much quicker. At the moment, the NFL is in a shift for developers for its video game series.
Normally, EA Sports handles the league’s Madden NFL franchise. Though the football simulation game has drifted in and out of favor amongst users over the years, it’s been a mainstay for those who enjoy simulation football.
Within the NFL, stars like the KC Chiefs’ former safety and all-around hero, Eric Berry and quaterback Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers have each made a name for themselves winning in Madden competitions.
Most impressively, both Berry and Newton were able to win tournaments playing with teams not often seen in the playoffs: the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills. Most recently, Berry took home the Madden Bowl 22 trophy.
The NFL recently released a statement that they’ll be working closely with 2K rather than EA Sports on an upcoming football video game project. At the moment, details are scarce, but it seems the franchise will be interactive and include ‘social experiences’.