Although Joe Flacco bore a striking resemblance to the living dead when his Ravens edged out the Texans in their AFC Divisional playoff game last weekend, that’s not actually him wearing a different jersey depicted in the above image. No, what you’re looking at is the Easter egg awarded to players for completing “Blitz Gauntlet” mode in the XBLA and PSN title, NFL Blitz. The unlockable zombie team is an obvious nod to the 1993 Sega Genesis classic, Mutant League Football.
Naturally, its inclusion has led to speculation over whether or not this is EA’s way of teasing a new Mutant League release of some sort. Kotaku’s Owen Good took it upon himself to investigate the matter; in doing so he discovered that a number of designers within the studio are indeed interested in such a project. This does not, however, in any way confirm that a remake or sequel is definitively on the way.
“We have no announcements at this time,” was the official word he received from Electronic Arts. As he points out in the original article, though, that statement does not necessarily mean that this thing isn’t happening. It’s entirely plausible that EA is kicking around the idea internally and would love to get an accurate gauge of the public’s interest in the venture. What that means, is that anyone reading this who desperately wants a new or remade Mutant League Football would be wise to alert EA to their stance on the matter.
Unfortunately there are two major complications hindering this rumor from becoming a reality. The first is none other than the all-powerful National Football League. Commissioner Roger Goodell and company might look unfavorably upon the concept, as it would be competing for sales and attention with the flagship NFL franchise, Madden. It’s possible that they could look upon the freak-filled rosters of the series as something that could dilute the value of the brand.
The NFL has exploded in popularity during the roughly 20 years since MFL’s release — it brought in an estimated $9 billion in revenue last year — and its senior management tends to be pretty particular about how one of the most coveted brands on the planet is used. While a Mutant League Football title would be unlikely to make direct usage of the NFL license, it would still reflect back on the sport’s premier league either way. Good luck convincing Goodell that zombies are going to assist him in achieving an annual revenue stream of $25 billion by 2027.
Another factor is the boys upstairs at Electronic Arts. NFL Blitz and Madden NFL Arcade already seem to have the digital football market cornered, with Madden and NCAA Football raking it in on the retail front. Would they really be willing to front large sums of money in order to essentially compete against themselves?
As unlikely as that scenario sounds, Kotaku has heard some whispers in the wind indicating that the football zombies are currently being used “in more violent scenarios than you see in NFL Blitz,” albeit it, “not on a football field.” What that will ultimately lead to is anyone’s guess.