For the record, I never really even wanted to be the commissioner of a Madden league. All I wanted was to join an online franchise in Madden 20 — like I do pretty much every year — play my games in a timely fashion and be a functioning cog in a well-oiled machine as we progressed through the seasons. But sometimes fate has bigger ideas for us. Some of us are born into greatness and some of us have greatness thrust upon us. When the situation called for someone to step up and take the reins of the league, I did what came naturally. Now, based on my own personal experience, I can offer some Madden commissioner tips so you can keep your leagues running smoothly.
Surround Yourself With Reliable People
When I initially joined the league, it was solely because the league happened to have an entire division open, the AFC East. I had three friends who played Madden regularly that I was hoping to introduce to online franchises, and this way we would get to play each other often while competing for the division. But it wasn’t long after we all had just got settled into the league and were enjoying our frequent divisional match-ups that things started rapidly falling apart around us.
First, the commissioner quit. That’s already a big enough blow to end many leagues, but it was then exacerbated by a whole bunch of other people, presumably friends of the departed commissioner, following suit and leaving too. Then there were a few people who sensed they were on a sinking ship who also decided it was time to throw themselves overboard. By the time things were all said and done, more than a third of the league had vacated their teams, leaving behind a whole host of rudderless squads to be run by the CPU.
If anything good came from this mass exile though it was that the remaining coaches of the teams in the leagues rallied around each other. We all stared down the possibility of the entire league disbanding and didn’t blink. With the prior commissioner gone, the other admins expressed their commitment to the league, but it was also clear that they were going to need some additional assistance if they were to keep this thing afloat. This is when I decided to take on more responsibility, not because I was asked to or anything but because I really did not want to see the league die. After all, what were the chances of finding another active league to play in with an entire division available for my three friends plus myself?
The wheels may have been coming off, but the core of the league never wavered. The admin group shifted slightly, eventually including myself in their ranks, and there was a sense among everyone that we just needed to get through this rough patch and would come out on the other side as a tighter group because of what we had endured.
But we had a substantial problem that needed to be addressed if we were going to be able to avoid the inevitable: We needed more people and quick.
Always Be Recruiting
Where do you find people who are looking to join an online franchise? There are probably a lot of possible answers to this question, but I immediately turned to Reddit and have had quite a bit of success going this route. Of course, I should probably mention that I have also had quite a bit of failure recruiting this way as well. Through a lot of trial and error, I have come to learn that recruiting is a lot like fishing. Sometimes you get a bite from a recruiting post, sometimes you don’t. When you do get a bite, there’s a chance it will lead to a real catch, but you also have to be prepared for the real possibility that there will be nothing but disappointment before you eventually reel in some fish.
For quite some time, there wasn’t a day that went by without me making a post on both the Madden subreddit and the MaddenCFM subreddit. To be honest, I probably would have posted even more often than this but these groups only allow you to make one post a day to help combat spamming. Slowly but surely though, I started finding people who were interested in joining our league.
However, as you can probably imagine, not every stranger on Reddit is completely serious about their dedication to a league they’re joining, and it soon fell into a familiar pattern of two steps forward and one step back. Some people who agreed to be part of the league would only last one game before they decided it wasn’t for them. Others wouldn’t even last an entire game, as they’d rage quit as soon as they sensed they were going to lose. Most wouldn’t even give us the courtesy of saying they were leaving. The only way we’d be able to tell that they had abandoned us was to discover that they were no longer in our Discord chat.
From making these posts over and over again, I was gradually able to develop a relatively good sense of which people were legitimately interested in becoming long-term fixtures within the league and which ones were more likely doomed to be those dreaded one-and-done quitters. Not to judge a book by its cover or anything, but the first clue that someone wasn’t going to be the most reliable participant in the league was their Reddit username or their PSN IDs. While there have been some exceptions to this rule, it’s inevitably seemed like those who have expressed interest in the league with handles like DrunkBrownsFan3 or MeatLog69 are destined to end up as a mere footnote in the esteemed history of our league.
But I’ve been pretty good about giving almost everyone a fair shot at proving their worth in the league even though it’s come back to bite me a number of times. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s best practice to respond to people who express their desire to join as soon as humanly possible and then send them a league invite quickly as well. There are a lot of leagues seeking members out there and there’s no sense in giving them the opportunity to find another one elsewhere.
Communication Is Key
As important as it is for people in the league to maintain communication between each other in order to get their games scheduled, it’s even more vital that a commissioner keep everyone abreast of everything that’s going on within the franchise. This includes making players aware of any changes in the rules (which are a must for every league), keeping them updated on timelines of when games need to be played or the official offseason schedule, and answering any questions that might arise to avoid confusion or misconceptions.
It’s especially important to relay information in a league when you have new people joining all the time because a lot of times they will be in multiple leagues that are all run a little bit differently. In my league, for instance, we have given some teams the opportunity to obtain dev trait upgrades for players in an effort to balance the league, as well as give all teams a chance to get different superstar X-Factors for one player a year should they not like the one someone already has. Of course, new players may not know that these are even part of the league unless you actually tell them about these important chances to improve their team.
Putting Out Fires Quickly
The trouble with being commissioner is that you never really know when you’re going to be needed to deal with a situation that arises and, believe me, situations will arise. A lot of times they will be messy too, and if they’re not attended to in a timely fashion, they can threaten to destroy the entire league. These can be anything from disputes between league members to epic rage quits where a person not only wants to separate themselves from the league but also take the whole thing down with them.
I had one guy who I had invited to take over the Packers. After getting beat badly in his first game, he decided to go on a mission of destruction. We thought we had all the necessary safeguards in place to prevent anyone from doing too much damage should they turn on the league that gave them a shot, but we thought wrong. He somehow managed to trade Aaron Rodgers, Jaire Alexander and David Bakhtiari to the CPU Titans in exchange for a 7th round pick. Surely, the Titans must have fallen over themselves to accept that offer as quickly as possible. This wayward soul even had the audacity to try to recruit people to another league when he initially joined, something that probably should have been a red flag in hindsight. You live and you learn.
Anyway, his efforts were ultimately in vain because thankfully Madden offers some ways to combat such actions. We were able to simply have someone use an alternate PS account to assume control of the Titans, drop the three players in question and then have him assume control of the Packers to re-sign them. Luckily, we had the league exported to DaddyLeagues, so we were even able to edit the contracts for the trio so they were restored to (mostly) their original state.
The point is that such things can happen at any time, and while there are restrictions you can implement to ensure that there’s only so much people will be able to do when they feel that anarchic streak coming on, you need to be ready for a code-red scenario so you can try to figure out a solution after something bad transpires.
Because of the constant demands of having to keep all of the plates spinning with an online franchise, it can sometimes be easy to forget that the reason you’re in the league in the first place is to have a good time. You aren’t exactly Roger Goodell sitting in the league office tending to administrative affairs without never even getting so much as a whiff of the action down on the field. No, you are also just like everyone else trying to get your team (the Jets, in my case) ready for your next opponent and setting your sights on the Super Bowl (as I said, I’m the Jets so I know this is pretty unlikely). As infuriating as Madden can be at times, it’s those moments late in a thriller when you’re leading your team down the field on a potential game-winning drive when you remember why it is that you want to even be in a league in the first place.
That kind of enthusiasm should carry over into how you run the league as well. No one wants to be in a league where the commissioner is a real grade-A jerk with a bad attitude who inundates the chat with nothing but toxic vibes. If you treat people with respect and maintain a positive attitude in your interactions — while still sprinkling in some good-natured ribbing from time to time — it will go a long way towards people wanting to be a part of your league. That’s not to say that you should be a pushover either though, as there are times where you’ll have to be firm with people and let them know you mean business. But you also don’t want to comes across as a dictator who’s not open to a feedback or constructive criticism. As you can probably tell, it’s all a bit of a delicate balancing act.
In the end, let the golden rule guide you at all times by treating others as you would want to be treated. If you set the right example, then you’ll attract the ideal kind of people that you want to populate the league around you.