Prior to his first Madden online game, TNT713 had built a reputation as a decent Madden player among his friends. That reputation came crashing down after his first game online in November 2002. In a particularly embarrassing loss, TNT713 was dominated 56-3 by an opponent using the Eagles along with some unorthodox strategies. Wide receivers packaged in at quarterback running goal-line quarterback sneaks for 80 yards a pop presented an unprecedented challenge that TNT was ill equipped to handle, but he was undaunted. Dare we say, he was hooked.
Born from our Founder Timothy Turner's (aka TNT713) experiences playing Madden online in the inaugural season for online play in Madden NFL 2003, there were no Madden websites dedicated to the purpose of helping players adapt to the new online Madden gaming environment. That's when the idea of MaddenUniversity.com was hatched. But our founder had no knowledge of designing, building, or managing a website.
In January 2003, the first free website dedicated to Madden players, MaddenOnline.us underwent construction. Pioneering owner of MaddenOnline.us (MO.US), Lars Hindsley, provided Madden players with shared frustration with antics of online opponents a forum to connect, discuss, and debate the common experiences of the average Madden gamer. MO.US was truly what the Madden community needed and had been thirsting for.
Shortly after launching, MO.US created the "BLACKLIST", where players could report and broadcast an opponent's bad behavior for all to see. It wasn't long before the divisions began. Splinter groups began to identify themselves with abbreviations like STR8 to signify they played "Straight Up" and SIM to signify they preferred a "simulation" style of play. Players that played a less regimented style often identified as "Freestyle" or "Tourney" if they played a style best suited to competitive events. Common to all four of these groups was the abhorrence of unethical players.
Players initially used the BLACKLIST for it's intended purpose, but as the community grew, it became unwieldy and unmanageable. MO.US was forced to hire staff to verify the play of players nominated to the BLACKLIST. This drove a wedge deeper into the many divisions the BLACKLIST created.
The BLACKLIST, wasn't the deterrent it was intended to be. It, instead, became the bullhorn for misinformation and the impetus for petty grudges. In response to community pressure, moderators of the BLACKLIST began to create stifling regulations governing the play of those that didn't even belong to the community; violations of which could earn a spot on the BLACKLIST. Many BLACKLIST-able offenses like running the clock down, using no-huddle, or blitzing the A-Gap were perfectly legal NFL strategies. Often, players placed on the BLACKLIST got their introduction to MO.US community only after being vilified.
MO.US didn't have a monopoly on the Madden community. About the same time in January of 2003, VG Sports (VG) launched the first pay site for competitive Madden players. Site owner, Bert Ingley, provided secure eBook software for purchase featuring the tournament tested strategy writing talents of Paul Gleason (Kobra) and Ron Jackson (PhillyRon) designed to deliver next-level pro tips and created an industry.
Although VG and MO.US both offered discussion forums, there was a distinct difference between the content and tone of conversations within them. VG was focused on Madden as a competitive venture on par with playing professional football in a virtual environment while MO.US was centered around Madden being a mechanism for a fun relaxing gaming experience. As the two communities evolved, animosity developed and flourished even though some members of both communities straddled the line between fun and competition. Sometimes, merely mentioning one site at the other was enough to draw disciplinary action in the form of suspensions and bans.
After seeing many valuable members of both the VG and MO.US communities banished it became obvious that there needed to be a bridge for Madden players, like myself, that belonged to more than one site. MaddenUniversity.com launched on August 12, 2003 simultaneous with the release of Madden NFL 2004 and began with a simple mission: Help Madden players become more competitive in head-to-head games. Our focus was providing in-depth strategies that the average Madden player could immediately use.
MaddenUniversity.com supplemented our mission with a revolutionary concept that encouraged cross-pollination. We added Communities to the scope of our mission, and just in time for a host of new websites like MaddenNation.com, MaddenWars.com, and TheMaddenLab.com to name a few. The larger the Madden community grew, the more the diverse needs of the community revealed themselves. Each new site offered a new twist, a new area of expertise, and a new perspective; yet only one maintained an active policy of encouraging members to mention other sites.
Years later many sites had come and gone, but MaddenUniversity.com's mission was still evolving. In March of 2007, TNT713 traveled from Raleigh, NC to Philadelphia, PA to write an article from Players Bowl IV. It was the first time he had been to a tournament of this size, packed with more than 200 excited and eager participants grappling for their piece of the $4000 prize pot. TNT was so impressed by the event, he decided he would plan an event in his hometown and extend the mission of MaddenUniversity.com to also focus on Competition.
Today, MaddenUniversity.com continues to emphasize our mission. We believe the trinity of Strategies, Communities, and Competition provide us with a sturdy base to operate well into the future. To date, we have offered dozens of free articles designed to make our readers think about how, why, and who they play. We have interviewed Madden fans, players, and developers from several Madden sites. And we have sponsored and officiated 14 tournaments in 3 states and awarded more than $8,500 in cash prizes.
Many of the websites my generation of Madden players grew up with are now defunct. The few remaining from the original era of Madden sites are barely hanging on. What sets MaddenUniversity.com apart from the typical Madden site is that we still prioritize mental preparation, sharpening individual skills, and mutual cooperation for the benefit of all Madden fans. We understand the benefits of a robust community and embrace our role in enriching the Madden experience for all Madden players.
At MaddenUniversity.com, all players are welcome. Our articles are expressly written with the intent of being inclusive of the bright eyed newbie and the grizzled veterans whether they employ conventional strategic concepts or unorthodox experimentation. We see value in all the players that make up the head-to-head community and believe we can all learn and teach one another.
We take an analytical approach to X's and O's combined with highlights of individual responsibility to duplicate those X's and O's within the virtual environment. We do not condone gimmicks or antics, but we will help you deal with them mentally, physically, and strategically. Every game is a learning opportunity. After more than 6000 games against tournament competitors and random online challengers, we realize our angle is not the easiest to accept. We may not be the most popular - but our philosophy works.
A Madden player's train of thought is what separates the good from the great and the wimps from the pimps. Madden can be fun no matter who or how you play.