WASHINGTON — John Madden misses the broadcast booth.
"I haven't gotten used to it yet," he says. It's been a little over a year since he retired from a 30-year career as a color commentator on NFL games.
"Last year, there was an emptiness," Madden acknowledges. "When you love doing something so much, you miss it when it's over."
Still, Madden's namesake video game lives on. And with "Madden NFL" entering into its third decade, publisher EA Sports is trying to bring more casual football fans back to the gridiron. The 2010-11 edition introduces GameFlow, in which you can let the artificial intelligence choose your plays instead of scrambling through a massive playbook before every down.
"We always want to make the game easy to start and impossible to master," says Madden. And series veterans will still be able to choose and edit plays all they want. "If you stop at simple, the next thing is boredom," Madden says.
The legendary broadcaster and coach has been touring training camps this summer with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "It's brought back some good memories," he says. However, like most fans he's worried about the persistent buzz concerning a possible work stoppage before the 2011-12 season.
"The game is so good, you hate to see it fouled up," Madden says. "Doggone it, they're the custodians of the game – the owners and the players – and they can't let the fans down."
EA Sports is a subsidiary of Electronic Arts Inc.