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EA Sports: Aaron Hernandez being removed from video games

Aaron Hernandez PatriotsAaron Hernandez has not yet been convicted of any crime, but that hasn’t stopped endorsers and other companies from cutting ties with him. The latest to scrub Hernandez from existence is video game juggernaut EA Sports.

On Monday, an EA Sports spokesperson told CBSSports.com that the former New England Patriots tight end is being removed from NCAA Football 14 and will not be featured in Madden NFL 25, the latest edition of the popular NFL video game series. The news came after the following photo began making the rounds on Twitter (via @LiterallyLowe), which shows Hernandez being unlocked as a reward in NCAA Football 14:

Aaron-Hernandez-NCAA-Football-14

“We made a decision to remove Aaron Hernandez from Madden NFL 25 and NCAA Football 14,” the spokesperson said. “Because NCAA Football 14 was finalized prior to our decision, Hernandez’ image still appears in the Nike Skills Trainer. However, he is not in the game, and anyone who unlocks that particular Nike Skills Trainer reward will receive an Alex Smith Ultimate Team player item instead. The image of Hernandez will be removed via a Title Update in the near future.”

Alex Smith instead of Hernandez? Ouch. Well, I guess that wouldn’t be so bad if we’re talking college.

Hernandez being dropped from video games is just the latest example showing how his image continues to crumble. First his jerseys were removed from online Pro shops, then sponsors dropped him, then the Patriots offered a free jersey exchange, and now EA Sports. Does that mean games that still feature Hernandez have become the latest eBay collector’s item? Based on what we saw last week, that wouldn’t be a surprise.

Tiger Needs to Win for His Video Game to Sell Again

According to a recent report from FOX Sports, sales of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 are down 68 percent from last year. Not surprised? That’s actually a more interesting statement than you may think. It’s no secret that Tiger has experienced his share of woes off the course—a tale of scandal that may continue to unravel in the coming months—but is that a complete explanation for the poor video game sales? I know that Tiger is not the picture of greatness we once thought him to be, but that doesn’t mean parents just throw in the towel and buy their kid Grand Theft Auto instead of a golf video game. Katherine Coulhart, an EA Sports publicist directly responsible for the Tiger Woods PGA game, had this explanation:

There are a number of factors that have contributed (to the decline in sales), but we believe the largest contributors are the slowing of the overall Wii software market and Tiger’s performance on the course.”

Tiger’s performance on the course is the reason people overwhelming have ignored the game. This is true. Now, as a publicist, Katherine does get paid to direct our attention away from Tiger’s real life problems and into video game land, but she does have a valid point. If Tiger were winning, I might think he had his life back in order, and then I would never think twice about buying his video game. More than anything, the video game is an interesting case study in the post-scandal Tiger brand and shows, at least in the short term, where EA Sports finds itself after sticking with Tiger. If and when Tiger starts winning again — and everyone expects him to start winning again — EA sports may look smarter than Gatorade and Accenture who dumped him as a spokesperson.

Sources
Sales of Woods video game take a hit [FOXSports]