10 Questions for John Madden

His eponymous Madden NFL video game turns 20 on Aug. 12

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Timothy Archibald for TIME

John Madden

Do you believe in the Madden NFL cover curse? Martin Bennett MOUNT AIRY, GA.

No, and I don't think players believe in it either. If you go back to the history of the Madden game, I was probably on the cover of it half the time. So if I was to believe there was a curse, I would also have to believe I'd been cursed. And I've never had that feeling.

If there wasn't football, what would your life be like instead? Corey Minerva, LOCUST, N.J. I've been lucky in that that's all my life has been. I've never had a year out of football. I'm sure that had I not been a coach, I would have been some form of a teacher. I'd like to work with kids in special education--younger kids.

Are you good at Madden NFL? Brian Harrington ORTING, WASH.

No, no. Too old. I have the game on my bus, and I horse around with it, but I get more out of it by watching other people play.

NFL rookies are paid a large sum of money before they even step on the field. Do you think they should be paid that much? Mitchell Cuff, LAS VEGAS

When I look at the salaries that these guys are being paid it's just amazing. But, you know, that's the system. I think there will be times a guy will be overpaid, and there will be times a guy will be paid a lot of money and he'll get to a position where he's underpaid. You just try to get a system that is as close to being fair to the players and owners as it can be. And you really can't include the fans in there, because I've never seen them give any money back to the fans.

What would you say is the biggest difference between the game when you coached and football today? Nate Barton, RALEIGH, N.C.

We used to play the same guys on offense and defense just about every down. Now they have these packages--every down, five or six guys come in on offense or defense. Every play, you have to locate who's in the game and what they're doing.

What do you think of Frank Caliendo's Madden impression? Alan Tucker, CHARLOTTE, N.C.

It's always said that I don't like him. I've never said that. The guy's making a living. That's his job, and he's a good little comedian.

What advice would you give Brett Favre on his current retirement flip-flop? Nathan Henneka SALT LAKE CITY

Once he leaves and doesn't come back, he's never, ever, ever, ever going to be able to come back. So this is a big decision for him. I say, Do what you want to do, and do what your heart tells you to do, and enjoy it. If I were the Packers general manager, I would take him back and play him. And anyone who says bring him back as a backup doesn't know what they're talking about.

As a player who suffered a career-ending injury, do you have ideas as to how to better protect players? Raymond Gambel NEW ORLEANS

Just keep improving the equipment. That's the only thing you can do. Football's a violent game--always will be, always has been. You keep improving the rules to make it safer, and you keep working on the equipment. But you're not going to eliminate injuries.

Do you think professional football players should be considered role models? Owen Murphy, PHILADELPHIA

Yes, I do, and I think it ought to even be written in their contracts. I don't think they have the right to say they are or they're not, because they are. And they ought to accept that.

What do you think are some traits of leadership? Lee Reese, TAMPA, FLA.

Just being a hard worker and a good player. Some people think that it's about talking. If a guy doesn't work hard and doesn't play well, he can't lead anything. All he is, is a talker.

To hear more from Madden and to subscribe to the 10 Questions podcast on iTunes, go to time.com/10questions

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