The December 28 death of John Madden left a void felt far and wide throughout professional football and sports broadcasting, and for many who had never seen him on the field or in the booth, video gaming. Indeed, Madden's passion for doing things right, no matter the venue, was so all-encompassing that he's easily among the most significant pioneers in sports video games.
His fame grew initially from his success on the field and in the broadcast booth. But there is an entire generation that knows him only as an iconic pioneer in video games.
Madden was a football coaching legend, author of more than 100 NFL victories during his 10-year tenure at the helm of the Oakland Raiders, who won Super Bowl XI at the end of the 1976 season and never had a losing record. After he finished his coaching career, he spent 30 years as the most famous color commentator on NFL broadcasts.
Many consider Madden to be the godfather of sports video games. For more than three decades, the John Madden Football video game franchise has generated more than $7 billion in revenue, as reported by the New York Times. From Tom Brady to Brett Favre, the game's biggest stars have been featured on the game's cover. Before that, however, Madden himself graced the annual release of the game for a decade.
"Today, we lost a hero," E.A. Sports tweeted when Madden died. "John Madden was synonymous with the sport of football for more than 50 years. His knowledge of the game was second only to his love for it, and his appreciation for everyone that ever stepped on the gridiron. A humble champion, a willing teacher and forever a coach. Our hearts and sympathies go out to John's family, friends and millions of fans. He will be greatly missed, always remembered and never forgotten."
The first copy of John Madden Football - Wata 9.2 A+ Sealed [Cardboard Box], Genesis Electronic Arts 1990 USA ever offered at Heritage Auctions
will cross the block in the Video Games Signature® Auction January 28-29. This particular copy is especially extraordinary as it comes from the offices of its famous namesake, as noted by the third-party authentication service, Wata Games.
Heritage will be donating the buyer's premium of the sale of the game to a charitable foundation that is currently being created in Madden's honor.
"John Madden had an immeasurable impact on the creation of this game, and his influence on sports video games as a whole is unmatched," Heritage Auctions Video Games Managing Director Valarie McLeckie said. "Even those who gravitate towards other genres of games have at least one fond memory of playing this game with our friends, myself included. Without Madden's guidance, EA may have produced a very different game than the one we all know and love; he was a visionary, and the world is missing something special without him."
Super Mario Bros. - Wata 9.8 A+ Sealed [Oval SOQ R, Last Production] (The Carolina Collection), NES Nintendo 1985 USA is one of only seven copies across all variants to date to earn the exemplary grade of Wata 9.8, and the yellow "Nintendo Products" sticker makes this copy instantly recognizable. Copies of Super Mario Bros. games are often competitively pursued at auction, and this incredible copy from The Carolina Collection once owned and curated by NintendoAge founder, Dane Anderson. The game itself pioneered and popularized an entire gaming genre the side-scrolling platformer!
Nintendo World Championships 1990 Grey - Wata 6.0 Cart [#0084], NES Nintendo 1990 USA is believed to be one of fewer than 100 surviving grey competition cartridges used in the 1990 Nintendo World Championship US Tour. These cartridges never were intended to be made available to the public, designated instead for destruction. Collectors have long considered NWC cartridges to be one of the Holy Grails of NES collecting, and it's fair to say that it's also one of the earliest esports artifacts.
The only indication of the demand for Halo: Combat Evolved (NFR) - Wata 9.8 A+ Sealed [Microsoft Security Label], Xbox Microsoft 2001 USA can be found in the "Not for Resale" printed across the bottom of the front of the box. This stunning copy bears what is effectively the highest grade that can be earned from Wata, and with its A+ seal rating, and it is the highest graded copy ever offered at Heritage Auctions. The NFR release was only available to employees of Microsoft, the developer Bungie and to a select few game stores to serve as a promotional disc.
Also headed to a new collection is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles in Time - Wata 9.4 A Sealed [Made in Japan, Early Production], SNES Konami 1992 USA and this is only the second copy that's ever been offered through Heritage Auctions; the first was in May 2019, and this beauty boasts a higher grade. As such, it's expected to draw considerable interest from SNES and TMNT collectors alike. Adapted from the 1991 Konami arcade classic, the game features box art by Tom DuBois and music composed by Kozo Nakamura.
Other highlights in the auction include, but are not limited to:
The Legend of Zelda - Wata 9.6 A+ Sealed [Oval SOQ TM, Later Production], NES Nintendo 1987 USA
The single highest graded copy of any variant of Baseball - Wata 9.6 A+ Sealed [Hangtab, 2 Code, Mid-Production], NES Nintendo 1985 USA
Super Mario Bros. - Wata 9.4 A Sealed [Oval SOQ R, Last Production], NES Nintendo 1985 USA
Nintendo Game Boy Color Prototype System [CGB-STB-X2] (c.1998).
Super Mario 64 - Wata 9.4 A++ Sealed, N64 Nintendo 1996 USA
Sonic the Hedgehog - Wata 9.6 B+ Sealed [Printed in Japan, Early Production], Genesis Sega 1991 USA.
Streets of Rage 2 - Wata 9.8 A+ Sealed, Genesis Sega 1992 USA.