From the Xbox Game Before the Game, in which New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen beat Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman 14-0 in Madden NFL 15, to the EA Sports Madden Bowl tournament, where Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson took home the trophy and a custom Xbox One console by defeating reigning champion Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy 17-0; video games are part of the Super Bowl experience. Beyond the exclusive licenses that Microsoft and Electronic Arts pay to the NFL, there’s a genuine love of video gaming that dates all the way back to early football games on the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision consoles.
Gaming has become as much a ritual, and part of growing up, for today’s athletes as Peewee Football. Even some retired players go back and relive glory days through video games, which can now replicate the broadcast perspective in high definition much better than actual TV networks could when they were playing. At the EA Sports Madden Bowl XXI and at other Super Bowl events, we hit the sticks with some NFL greats. Check out the gallery below for interviews with 12 NFL stars and some photos from Madden Bowl XXI that include Kevin Hart, Nelly, Florida-Georgia Line, Lil’ Jon, and more.