Update: EA released a statement to Gamasutra explaining what happened here, see the note at the end.
It’s not surprising NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick isn’t featured in Madden NFL 19. Kaepernick hasn’t played for two years, after the league appeared to collectively distance itself from him, despite being objectively more talented than all sorts of other quarterbacks who, conveniently, managed to land jobs. This followed his decision to kneel during the national anthem, a political protest to raise awareness over police violence against black Americans, a trend that picked up momentum over the next few years, inevitably drawing ire from Trump.
What is weird is how EA apparently decided to bleep Kaepernick’s name from a track featured on the game’s soundtrack. The omission was first discovered by a fan:
Here’s how the lyric is supposed to go, from the Big Sean verse in "Big Bank" from YG: “You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick.”
This wasn’t unique to this person’s copy of the game. It’s been verified by a number of other publications with early access, including Waypoint. The bleeping of Kaepernick’s name is loud and clear.
(Side note: While I was checking the song, the news ticker at the bottom noted Kaepernick still didn't have a job in the NFL.)
More curious, the version of "Big Bank" on Madden NFL 19 doesn't feature the official radio edit, which features no such bleeping of Kaepernick. This is a different version, as evidenced below:
EA has not responded to my request for comment. Given how this is spreading—even tabloids like TMZ flagged the omission—they will likely have to say something.
The sports website Bleacher Report shared a version of the original tweet, which was noticed by Kapernick himself, who retweeted it without additional comment.
Weirder still, the series has acknowledged Kaepernick in the past. Madden NFL 17’s in-game commentary was updated throughout the season to mention his protest.
This comes after the NFL tried to regulate kneeling during the anthem out of football, a unilateral move made without consulting players, resulting in its own backlash. The policy is on-hold, while the NFL Players Association (their union) works out a new rule.
Is it possible someone just really fucked up on the bleeping? Sure, I guess? Is it a horrible look someone should have caught, given what's going on right now? Absolutely.
Update: EA says this was a mistake based on a miscommunication within the development team. They released the following explanation to Gamasutra.
“We made an unfortunate mistake with our Madden NFL soundtrack. Members of our team misunderstood the fact that while we don’t have rights to include Colin Kaepernick in the game, this doesn’t affect soundtracks. We messed up, and the edit should never have happened. We will make it right, with an update to Madden NFL 19 on August 6 that will include the reference again. We meant no disrespect, and we apologize to Colin, to YG and Big Sean, to the NFL, to all of their fans and our players for this mistake.”
Follow Patrick on Twitter. If you have a tip or a story idea, drop him an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.