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NFL, EA unveil Madden competition

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NEW YORK (AP) — NFL fans and gamers can play their way to the Super Bowl — if they’re good enough at the newest edition of “Madden NFL 18.”

Electronic Arts and the NFL announced they’re teaming up to create an online tournament involving all 32 teams.

It makes the NFL the first pro sports league in the U.S. to commit all of its teams to a competitive gaming program, and a massive esports competition.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calls competitive gaming and esports “one of the most exciting ways to engage a larger, younger and digitally savvy NFL audience.” EA CEO Andrew Wilson says his company and the NFL are taking their partnership “to an unprecedented level.”

Chris Halpin, the NFL’s chief strategy officer and senior vice president for consumer products, says esports competitors generally are difficult to reach via traditional media.

“It’s great that they have an affinity for football, but we’ve got to make sure we’re engaging them on the new platforms,” Halpin said.

The Madden NFL Club Championship is open to any player with an online account and the game being released Tuesday on Xbox One and Playstation 4.

Players will pick their favorite team, then compete online against that team’s other fans — New England Patriots fans will go up against other Patriots fans, for example — with an undetermined number of top players advancing out of that round.

From there, competitors will be trimmed down to one representing each team. From there, there’s a club championship round followed by finals at Minnesota’s Super Bowl Experience, with the victor grabbing cash and two Super Bowl tickets.

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