Update: Game Informer received word from EA saying that the edit was a “mistake.”
“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.”
Original: The menu music is one of the trademarks of the sports game genre. But the soundtrack of Madden NFL 19 may just end up being its most controversial aspect. The controversy centers around the song “Big Bank” by YG. As one would expect the song is heavily censored in-game. Along with the usual profanities, references to drug use, and sexual language, a mention of controversial quarterback Colin Kaepernick is also removed from the song. The issue came to light after Madden NFL 19‘s PC release and review copies of the game went out.
The specific line in question, performed by rapper Big Sean, is “You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick.” You can hear the original song below, the line in question is around the 2:14 mark:
Here’s what the Madden 19 version sounds like, courtesy of Twitter user @jeanclervil:
— Mr. Changing Lives (@jeanclervil) August 2, 2018
Many pointed out that this isn’t the first time Kaepernick’s name was scrubbed from a song, either:
— JaYLeel Starks (@YourAnAssholex2) August 2, 2018
Despite the censoring of the song, Kaepernick did appear in last year’s Madden 18. Despite not getting signed the whole season, Kaepernick featured in Madden 18, being a member of the free agent pool. However, he does not appear in Madden 19, and remains unsigned.
The former San Fransisco 49ers quarterback quickly became a controversial face in the NFL once he began kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice. In 2017, he became a free agent, and subsequently filed a collusion grievance against the NFL. More players began to partake in the protests as well, and even the President gave his input. While Kaepernicks’s absence from the game proper is one thing given his absence from the league this year, it’s unknown what the reasoning behind the complete scrubbing of his name is.
Note the Colin Kaepernick has not been banned from the NFL, he just doesn’t have a renewed contract. The radio edit of Big Bank only removes curse words and other references, but leaves Kaepernick’s name in the song.
Big Sean spoke out against the censorship on Twitter:
It’s disappointing and appalling @NFL & @EA took @Kaepernick7’s name out of my verse on Big Bank for Madden 19, like it was a curse word. When he's not a curse, he's a gift! Nobody from my team approved any of this.
— Sean Don (@BigSean) August 2, 2018
The other side of the censorship controversy is a unique and bright Madden NFL 19 box art photo, featuring an athlete not performing a typical football play, but with helmet off and a huge grin. Madden NFL 19 is out now for PC, and is releasing on August 10 for PS4 and Xbox One. You can read our review, where we called it “premier football simulation on console.”