Hernandez, 23, was indicted last month on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the shooting death of semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd, 27. Lloyd's body was found in a wooded area near Hernandez's North Attleborough, Mass., home in mid-June. Hernandez also faces five gun-related charges, and is being investigated for his possible involvement in a 2007 shooting in Gainesville, Fla., and a 2012 double-homicide in Boston. The Patriots released Hernandez June 26, shortly after his arrest.
Hernandez will not appear even in Madden 25's free agent pool; the Tiburon representative told Polygon that the studio decided to excise him from the upcoming game "immediately after" he was released by the Patriots and cleared waivers.
The star tight end originally existed in NCAA Football 14 as a Florida Gators trading card in the game's Ultimate Team mode, the card being a reward that's unlocked in the Nike Skills Trainer. (See photo above, from Twitter user Richard Lowe.) Since Ultimate Team runs on EA's servers, Tiburon has already replaced Hernandez's card: Anyone who unlocks him will instead receive Alex Smith, who is now a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.
"Because NCAA Football 14 was finalized prior to our decision, [Hernandez's] image still appears in the Nike Skills Trainer," the Tiburon rep explained. "The image of Hernandez will be removed via a title update in the near future." The rep added that the studio "cannot commit to a specific date at this time" for the patch.
Madden NFL 25 is set for release Aug. 27 on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. It will be a launch title on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. NCAA Football 14 will be released tomorrow on Xbox 360 and PS3.