An Associated Press photo of John Madden as a coach. An Associated Press photo of John Madden as a coach. (Supplied by Religion of Sports around the All Madden docuseries.)

One of the more interesting figures in sports history is getting his own movie as Will Ferrell is reportedly set to play John Madden in an upcoming biopic.

According to, director David O. Russell is in talks with Ferrell to portray the former Oakland Raiders head coach in a Prime Video Sports Original. The project, which is known by its working title Madden, focuses on the second act of the Hall of Fame head coach’s career, which involves him transitioning to the broadcast booth and ultimately his role in developing the popular Madden NFL video game, despite never playing one before.

A Prime Video Sports Original, Madden tells the story of one of the larger-than-life personalities to grace an NFL sideline. All Madden ever wanted was to be a head coach and he was one of the best ever. After winning the Super Bowl, the stress of the job began to destroy him. It forced him away from his dream job, and the film focuses on his friendship with Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, and how Madden found a second act that made him far more famous. He continued his passion for teaching X’s and O’s in different ways. He redefined the notion of the football broadcaster with an outsized personality that led to a big endorsement career for Lite Beer from Miller, Tinactin and other products. Although he’d never played a video game in his life, Madden helped changed the videogame landscape when he became the figurehead for Madden NFL, a perennial top seller that this fall gets its 24th incarnation through Electronic Arts.

According to the report from Deadline, the project has been “percolating” for some time. Madden is based on a Black List script by Cambron Clark. The Black List is an annual survey of the “most-liked” motion picture screenplays that have not been produced. Russell has since been doing a rewrite of the script, but that appears to be on hold due to the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike in Hollywood.

The expectation, per Deadline, is that the NFL will embrace this feature film of Madden, as the project is set to be produced by many, including Steve Tisch, the co-owner of the New York Giants.

Ferrell has famously starred in several sports movies and as of last month, the 55-year-0ld actor is set to star in a golf comedy series, which reportedly “revolves around a professional golfer who becomes the face of a controversial new league competing with the PGA.”

In his portrayal of Madden, Ferrell will finally have the opportunity to portray a legendary sports figure.

He wanted to be featured in director Adam McKay’s HBO’s limited series about the Los Angeles Lakers, which is based on Jeff Pearlman’s 2014 book Showtime about the Lakers’ 1980s championship dynasty. Ferrell—a huge fan of the team—wanted to play team owner Jerry Buss in the series. But McKay, who moved the production to his company, wanted John C. Reilly to play Buss.

Reilly has since portrayed Buss in HBO’s Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty, not Ferrell. And not being able to do so is what ultimately led to the end of his long-term friendship with McKay.

It’s unknown if Madden, who passed away in Dec. 2021, ever publicly stated which actor he wanted to play him in a feature film. What we do know is he likely didn’t want it to be comedian Frank Caliendo, who frequently parodied Madden. Charles Barkley recently revealed that Madden wanted to sue Caliendo over his impersonations of him.

In any event, Ferrell seems like the right choice to play Madden.


About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.