In the wake of the medical emergency suffered by Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin last week, Electronic Arts said it will remove the CPR touchdown celebration from Madden NFL 23 (opens in new tab) in a future update.
The NFL is famous for its touchdown celebrations, which over the years have grown from spiking the ball to emphasize that yes indeed, points were scored, to elaborately choreographed dances that wouldn’t be out of place during mating season on the Galapagos Islands. There’s a whole Wikipedia entry dedicated to the practice (opens in new tab), which is officially frowned on by the league but widely liked by fans.
The CPR celebration, which according to Polygon (opens in new tab) has been in Madden NFL for the past three years, is pretty straightforward as these things go. One member of the scoring team lies on the grass, a second gives him pretend CPR, and then a third jolts him with an also-pretend defibrillator. Courtesy of MagicMark11 on YouTube, you can see what the CPR celebration looks like in Madden NFL 23 in the video up top.
It’s silly, but more or less real: Here, for instance, is Delanie Walker doing CPR on a ball, for instance (although the commentator somehow mistakes it as burping a baby), and just last week Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Alex Highsmith used the CPR move to celebrate a sack.
It was all in good fun until a game between the Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals on January 2, during which Hamlin collapsed on the field (opens in new tab) after performing a tackle. Medical personnel performed CPR and applied an automated defibrillator and other forms of aid before Hamlin was taken off the field by ambulance; it was later reported that he had suffered cardiac arrest immediately after the tackle. He required a breathing tube and his condition was critical for several days, and while he has since improved, he remains hospitalized.
The incident resulted in some calls on social media for the removal of the CPR celebration, and today Electronic Arts confirmed that it’s being cut.
“EA Sports is taking steps to remove the celebration from Madden NFL 23 via an update in the coming days,” a rep said in a statement emailed to PC Gamer. EA did not specify why the celebration is being removed, but the timing is impossible to overlook. A date for the update hasn’t been announced.
This isn’t the first time that Electronic Arts has removed controversial content from Madden NFL games. In 2020, for instance, it scrubbed Washington’s racist team name (opens in new tab) from Madden 21, and in 2021 it removed former NFL coach Jon Gruden (opens in new tab) from Madden 22 after it was found that Gruden had used racist and homophobic slurs in emails sent between 2011 and 2018.