Madden isn’t a precise simulation tool, but as the game inches closer toward realism, it’s getting better at it. One of the best aspects of its franchise mode — where you take over a player, coach, or team owner and play through as many seasons as you like — is the sheer amount of data you wind up with at the end of the year.
It’s all simulated, of course, but there’s something fun about seeing who won MVP, who threw the most interceptions, and who made the Pro Bowl. The goal, by the end of it all, is to have a successful career and make the Hall of Fame.
Personally, I’ve been playing franchise more and more — it’s a great mode while watching a new TV show or movie — and am now in my fifth year. Seeing how the NFL has played out around the one team I manage (49ers) is always exciting, so I decided to boot up a fresh franchise mode without my influence to see how things look over the course of a few years.
Here’s how things turned out in the NFL after the first three years
I simmed three years, one at a time, to get a baseline. That baseline included two Coach of the Year awards for John Harbaugh, one for Kyle Shanahan, and MVP awards for Ezekiel Elliott, Deshaun Watson, and ... Marcus Mariota. That also included Super Bowl wins for the Ravens, Chiefs, and Texans.
All of that — sans MVP for Mariota, who was recently benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill — seem plausible. Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Watson are all capable of leading their teams to the Super Bowl.
But I’m more curious about who made it to the Hall of Fame after those three seasons. Keep in mind that there is no five-year waiting period in Madden, so players and coaches are eligible right away.
Year One Hall of Famers: Terrell Suggs, Ben Roethlisberger, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Adrian Peterson, Frank Gore
Year Two Hall of Famers: Tom Brady, Jason Witten, Adam Vinatieri, Marshal Yanda
Year Three Hall of Famers: Drew Brees, Ndamukong Suh
It warms my heart to see Gore making it in the first year, and it’s pretty interesting to see Witten both make it and play another year past 2019. Vinatieri is a solid addition, while Fitzgerald deserves it as much as anyone. Tom Brady, of course, is the most obvious selection.
I’m not sure why the number of players making it declined, but it’s hard to argue against either Brees or Suh.
Notable omissions: But who wasn’t selected? Quite a few people. Clay Matthews, Aqib Talib, Thomas Davis Sr., Andrew Whitworth, Joe Staley, Ramon Foster, Delanie Walker, Demaryius Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders, Julian Edelman, Michael Bennett, and Golden Tate were all among the players who retired within three seasons and didn’t have the stats to make it into the Hall of Fame. Head coaches Pete Carroll and Andy Reid also retired and were left out.
And here’s who made the Hall of Fame from 2022-32
I decided to call it quits from there, after one more simulation. From the start of the 2022 season, I simmed 10 years, all the way to 2032, and the list of players who wind up in the Hall gets rather fascinating. This list is sorted by the players’ “Legacy” score, which builds up over time with achievements like awards, stat milestones, and Super Bowl wins.
Who made the Hall after 10 years (in order of “Legacy” score): Ezekiel Elliott, Myles Garrett, Khalil Mack, Von Miller, Saquon Barkley, Aaron Donald, Jadeveon Clowney, Julio Jones, Todd Gurley, J.J. Watt, DeForest Buckner, DeMarcus Lawrence, Russell Wilson, Joey Bosa, Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Tyron Smith, Marquise Brown, Zack Martin, Leighton Vander Esch, Cameron Jordan, Travis Frederick, Joe Mixon, Matt Ryan, Quenton Nelson, Mark Andrews, C.J. Mosley, Fletcher Cox
That’s a pretty impressive group of players. Some selections are questionable — guys like Mixon and Andrews — but most are at least somewhat believable, if they continue to be so productive in their careers. Players such as Watt, Donald, Jones, Mack, and Kelce are all at the top of the game at their positions.
Then there’s Brown, a dang 2019 rookie! Brown has shown some good stuff this year for the Ravens, but it still caught my eye to see the receiver on the list (and retire after 13 seasons).
Notable omissions: The biggest name missing was Aaron Rodgers, who somehow did not make the Hall while quarterbacks like Rivers and Brees did.
Ultimately, these Madden simulations don’t mean anything. They are nothing more than an interesting aside — but they’re still a fun part of the game.