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The Madden ambulance, and other features the NFL made EA remove or tweak

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EA Sports' slogan is "it's in the game," but since the NFL is tightly tied to the publisher's Madden NFL series, the league has forced the games' developers to remove a number of features over the years, reports Extra Mustard.

According to interviews with current and former producers on the 25-year-old Madden franchise, NFL officials have both nixed existing elements of the games, and prevented features that were in development from appearing in a retail product.

Some of the changes that the NFL dictated came down to evolving attitudes regarding player safety. In the mid-2000s, both the league and John Madden himself suggested that Madden's developers adjust the way the game treated concussions. And no tackles in the game will cause a player's helmet to pop off, at least not since the transition to high-definition consoles.

In other instances, the league came to regard existing parts of the game as unsavory, such as the fan-favorite ambulance (image above) that careened across the field and ran over healthy players as it made its way to the injured one. The ambulance debuted in John Madden Football '92 and last appeared in Madden NFL 2001.

The NFL also limits just how realistic the Madden games can be. When developer EA Tiburon began varying in-game attendance with Madden NFL 11, the Jacksonville Jaguars owner took umbrage at the game's representation of a half-filled stadium, according to a developer. However, variable attendance makes sense in the context of Franchise mode, and is tied to the league's blackout restrictions for television broadcasts. So the NFL allowed Tiburon to leave the feature in, but suggested that the studio not leave stadiums half-empty.

Check out the full list of eight altered or removed Madden features at Extra Mustard.