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Colin Kaepernick continues to haunt NFL after Madden 19 song censorship gaffe

Recent versions of Madden NFL appear to have NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s name removed from songs featured in the game. (Video: Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)

For the second consecutive year, the Madden NFL video game appears to have edited a song on its soundtrack to exclude the name of quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

In Madden NFL 19, set to be released Aug. 10 but available now via the “EA Access” subscription service, the song “Big Bank,” by YG, includes the lyric, “Feed me to the wolves now I lead the pack and s—. / You boys all cap, I’m more Colin Kaepernick.”

But the vulgarity and Kaepernick’s name have been removed from the verse on the game, according to a recording posted on Twitter by Jean Clervil.

EA Sports apologized in a statement for omitting Kaepernick’s name, and called the song’s alteration “an unfortunate mistake.”

“Members of our team misunderstood the fact that while we don’t have rights to include Colin Kaepernick in the game, this doesn’t affect soundtracks,” company spokesman Will Alexander said in an email. “We messed up, and the edit should never have happened. We will make it right, with an update to Madden NFL 19 on August 6 that will include the reference again. We meant no disrespect, and we apologize to Colin, to YG and Big Sean, to the NFL, to all of their fans and our players for this mistake.”

The apology did not satisfy radio and TV personality Nessa Diab, Kaepernick’s girlfriend.

The company did not specify how the rights to Kaepernick’s name differ from those associated with any other current or retired player included on the game. It also did not address the quarterback’s missing name on last year’s Madden 18 soundtrack.

“I already knew the lyrics to ‘Big Bank,’ so when I heard it [on Madden], I was like, ‘um, did they just blank his name out?'” Clervil, 28, told The Washington Post in a phone interview.

“I’m mad I can’t get a refund,” he added. “It hurts my soul, because I’ve been playing Madden since Madden came out.”

In Madden NFL 18, the song “Bars Of Soap,” by Mike WiLL Made-It featuring Swae Lee, includes the line, “She be hopin’ that I take a knee like Kaepernick.” But in the rendition played on the game, again the quarterback’s name is absent. The ex-49er was previously listed as a free agent in the Madden 18 game, who could be added to gamers’ “ultimate teams,” a branch of the game where players can customize teams’ rosters. He is not included as a player in Madden 19.

Clervil’s post lit up Twitter on Thursday, especially after YG himself wrote on Instagram that no one had consulted him about altering the track.

Kaepernick was active on Twitter Thursday regarding the matter, one of his tweets being a response to Big Sean, who performed the lyric in question on the YG track, and was very displeased with its removal.

Kaepernick last appeared in a regular season game at the close of 2016, the year in which he gained notoriety for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality and economic and social injustice. Though Kaepernick did not play in the NFL last season, the protests have been carried on by other players last season and embroiled the NFL in a season-long controversy stoked by President Trump. The NFL’s owners sought to end the protests this summer through the passage of a since-rescinded policy and the league is now engaging with the NFL Players Association on the matter.

Kaepernick sued the NFL’s 32 franchise owners in Oct. 2017, accusing the league’s leaders of colluding to keep him off an NFL roster. The litigation is still pending.

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