Why Doesn’t Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Show up in Madden Games?

The Madden video game franchise is firmly a part of the NFL’s brand. With each new release, there are debates about players’ ratings, many of them coming from the players themselves. To many, it is an honor to see themselves immortalized in the game, while sometimes there may be a lighthearted laugh at the way programmers visually present the players.  Bill Belichick, on the other hand, is not part of the fun. While many coaches are rendered and named in the game, Belichick is noticeably absent, yet nobody appears to know why. 

Who is Chad Masters?

The coach of the New England Patriots has taken many forms, from Chad Masters to Josh Moore to Hal Ophamer and Griffin Murphy. Sometimes, he is just referred to as the New England coach. Because of Bill Belichick’s refusal to use his likeness, a simple name change on a model who looked like him won’t do. They have to operate as though he is not there. 

Other notable holdouts

Belichick isn’t the first high-profile name to shun the video game industry. Michael Jordan was notoriously finicky when it came to video games before becoming a staple of the NBA 2K franchise in 2011. Although he had his own games, including a strange action video game for Super Nintendo, Jordan opted out of the shared licensing agreement that the NBA Players Association supports. Because of that, some NBA games had to use stand-ins for the most popular player in the game.

Barry Bonds also notoriously held out of video games throughout his career, instead being replaced on the Pirates and Giants with a very powerful player who looked just different enough to not cause any issues. He was never as hit-or-miss on the subjects as Jordan, however, and never allowed his likeness to appear on games. 

In the NFL, former Buffalo Bills running back never joined the NFL Players Association, thus never made it into the games. Other high-profile players like Randall Cunningham, Jim Kelly, and Bernie Kosar famously shunned the classic Tecmo Bowl games as well. Whatever their reasons, some people just uneasy with having their digital likenesses used. 

Why can’t Bill Belichick appear in Madden? 

Like players, the NFL Coaches Association has an agreement in place that allows video games to use their likeness. That, in part, explains why Belichick isn’t in the game, because he’s never opted to join the NFLCA. It’s not surprising when considering his mentor, Bill Parcells, who also notoriously did not join. 

Belichick has always had something of an outsider streak in the NFL. He will never vociferously belittle the league, but his disdain for some of the non-football aspects of the game has been publicly documented as long as he has been a coach. Saints head coach Sean Payton used to opt out of the NFLCA, as well, but he now appears in video games.

The fact of the matter is that Belichick has always preferred standing silently and not explaining himself in the process. On paper, it seems as though allowing your likeness to be used would be a no-brainer. It is basically free money that requires zero effort, but for whatever reasons, Belichick wants none of this. 

Don’t hold your breath waiting for an explanation

Patriots' coach Bill Belichick doesn't appear in any of the Madden video games.
Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick doesn’t appear in any of the Madden video games. | Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

We’re not sure why Bill Belichick refuses to be part of so many traditional aspects of the NFL.

Perhaps, he thinks that video games and similar appearances cheapen the product on the field. Maybe he is uneasy with the idea of a digital version of himself appearing on television without him being able to do anything. Or, perhaps, it is just another way for Belichick to stick it to the NFL establishment.

In the end, he does not want his likeness used, and that is reason enough to do it. Knowing Belichick, we will never get a definitive answer, anyways