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Sports movie Fantasy Football is a big ad for Madden, but its heart’s in the right place

A lightning strike gives Omari Hardwick the greatest ratings jump ever

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

There’s a whole lot of #brand #synergy running though this trailer for Fantasy Football, brought to you by corporate good buds the NFL, Nickelodeon, EA Sports, and Paramount Plus. But we’ll try to push past that and admit that, yes, given the chance, our favorite created player in Madden NFL 23 would be our Dad, especially if we could make him do The Worm before the snap.

Marsai Martin (ABC’s Black-ish) stars as Carmen Coleman, the adolescent daughter of pro football washout Bobby Coleman (Omari Hardwick, who IRL was a defensive back at Georgia and training camp hopeful with the San Diego Chargers). Despite the mansion, the cars, and the generational wealth, Bobby’s career looks like it’s gonna dead-end with the Atlanta Falcons’ second string, and he has no second act in mind after that.

But then, a lightning strike delivers the greatest post-launch support any version of Madden has ever seen, and now Carmen’s super stick skills on her Xbox Series X breathe new life into Dad’s moves on the field. You can just imagine EA Tiburon developers hooking jumper cables to the compiler just to see if that shit really works for their next title update.

You can guess where it all goes from there. In the grand tradition of family sports comedies like Rookie of the Year, Little Giants, and Little Big League, Carmen steps in with the knowledge that only kids have about how simple these silly sports are, and rescues her Dad’s career. Kelly Rowland (Mom Keisha Coleman) co-stars in a cameo-dotted cast that includes CBS broadcasters Jim Nantz and Tony Romo, and Kansas City Chiefs hall-of-famer Tony Gonzalez as Falcons’ coach Lance Evans.

Fantasy Football comes to you from a production team that includes LeBron James (Space Jam: A New Legacy) and his longtime friend, agent, and collaborator Maverick Carter, who founded SpringHill Entertainment with the NBA great two years ago. Though Fantasy Football will premiere Nov. 25 on Paramount Plus, the Nickelodeon branding means we can probably expect some kind of cross-promotion with league broadcasts before and after. Indeed, Nickelodeon plans to air a kid-friendly broadcast alongside this season’s Christmas Day meeting of Denver and the Los Angeles Rams.

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