A professor of history at a Texas school said legendary football coach and commentator John Madden created a “digital plantation” by producing the popular Madden NFL simulator video game series.
Andrew McGregor, a professor of history at Dallas College, made the comments on Twitter hours after the NFL announced the death of Madden at the age of 85.
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“I have a lot of opinions on John Madden,” McGregor wrote Tuesday. “The creation of the Madden video game was not a great development for the U.S. It further glamorized violence and dehumanized black athletes, helping to establish plantation cosplay that has grown worse in the era of fantasy football.”
McGregor, who is white, wrote several tweets criticizing Madden, saying he “profited off of Black athletic labor and glamorized the violence inherent in the game." He has since locked his account. The annually updated game, which first came out in 1988, is marketed by EA Sports. It has long featured Madden as the commentator.
In another tweet, the college professor said the Madden video game “distanced the reality of the violent sport from fans, and transformed human behaviors into artificial numbers and simulations.”
“It glamorized athletes, using their name for profits while encouraging fans to disregard the humanity,” he wrote. “Madden built a digital plantation.”
Twitter users unearthed a tweet McGregor wrote in 2017, in which he acknowledged playing the video game.
“The fake kneel down is the exact kind of play I would have used against my brother in Madden,” McGregor wrote at the time. “It would have perfectly complemented my fake punt offense.”
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Comparisons between professional sports that overwhelmingly employ black athletes and slave plantations are not new. Former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, in a Netflix documentary about his life, claimed the NFL entry draft was akin to a slave auction.
A Dallas College spokesperson confirmed to the Washington Examiner that McGregor teaches history at the school but noted that "the views of professor McGregor are not those of Dallas College, and comments made via his personal Twitter account do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of Dallas College."