The latest iteration in Electronic Arts’ NFL franchise Madden became part of a larger political discussion on Aug. 2, after a reference to former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick was removed from the game’s soundtrack.
The track containing the mention of Kaepernick was “Big Bank”, performed by rappers YG and Big Sean. Neither artist was notified by EA Sports abou the fact it was omitting the quarterback’s name. That led to a disgruntled Big Sean tweeting directly at the official Madden account. In response, EA Sports posted a statement in which the company claimed that the removal of Kaepernick’s name was a mistake—and that an uncensored version containing the original reference will be included in an upcoming patch on Aug. 6.
The issue stemmed from the Madden team not being allowed to use Kaepernick’s image in the game itself, which led to the developers assuming that the same went for any mention of the player as well. This is, however, not the first instance of the player’s name being censored in Madden—in 2018 the track “Bars of Soap” performed by Swae Lee and Mike Will Made also had a mention of Kaepernick omitted.
Kaepernick became the center of a national scandal after choosing to kneel as a form of protest against racial injustice during a pre-game rendition of the U.S. national anthem on Sept. 1, 2016. The act garnered nation-wide attention, generating both outrage and encouragement from fans of the league. Prior to the start of the 2017 NFL season, the then 29-year-old Kaepernick elected to leave the 49ers by his own accord, and has remained a free agent since.
In response to Kaepernick’s actions, the NFL updated its ruleset on May 23, 2018 to provide players with the option of remaining in the locker room if they do not wish to participate in the pre-game rendition of the national anthem. Any player that enters the field is required to stand up for the entire duration of the performance, however.