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Gillette, Wyo., native still in the pro football game for EA

Published May 2, 2013 11:35 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Gillette, Wyo. • Gillette native Clint Oldenburg chased the NFL dream just as hard and as long as he could before age and injuries caught up with him.

It now looks like "The Game" will give him broader NFL recognition than anything he ever did during his playing days.

Former Gillette Camel and Colorado State University star was released by the Washington Redskins on Sept. 4, 2011, his sixth NFL team. But his knowledge of blocking schemes, footwork, along with the ins and outs of football, has opened the door to new career.

Oldenburg, 30, joined the EA Sports design team in May and he served as an associate producer on Madden 13 video football game, which was launched Aug. 28.

"As far as I know, on the production side, I am the first former NFL athlete to get a full-time job at EA," the 2002 Campbell County High School graduate tells the Gillette News Record in a telephone interview from Orlando. "All through my career in the NFL, I'd say to a man, everybody in the league plays Madden. It's something we all grew up with."

Oldenburg, who was the Milward L. Simpson athletic award winner in 2002, has access to NFL locker rooms, NFL draft parties and coaching staffs. He's also worked with Hall of Fame coach and broadcaster John Madden.

He is still a part of the game he loves. Now, it's helping to develop life-like tendencies in a video product.

Will Brinson of CBSSports.com said in a Sept. 6 post, Madden 13 sold a record 1.65 million copies in its first week on the shelves — 900,000 copies in the first 24 hours.

Oldenburg, who is working on Madden 25th Anniversary, is a game play designer on one of the hottest sports games on the market and well on his way to an exciting new career.

"I remember when he was in junior high, he and my wife ran down to the Kmart and waited in the dark for the store to open up so he could get an Xbox," said Clint's father, Steve, who still coaches Camel throwers on the high school track and field team. "It was tough decision for him because he thought he could still play. I'm just surprised how the whole thing got started. His brother (Lee) found an advertisement in ESPN and helped him with his resume and that's how he got the internship."

Football paid for a bachelor's degree in journalism at CSU; the internship led to a full-time job.

"I design football stuff with NCAA and Madden," Clint said. "The area I'm in charge of is the offensive and defensive lines. I integrate as much authentic football in the interactions between the players. Anything from their assignments, blocking schemes to footwork.

"Anything that's missing in the video game world that I can add to make it look more like a real football game — that's my job."

His 16-week internship at EA Sports carried over into a full-time job just in time to help put the finishing touches on Madden 13. The new Infinity physics engine, this year's installment, adds new Connected Careers and Kinect voice controls.

"When I started my internship in January, the development team was already in the (final) cycle and a lot of the features had already been built," Oldenburg said. "My biggest contribution to the team was working on a lot of the playbooks.

"I added depth in the playbooks for each team and a few blocking items, but nothing like what I'm working on for Madden 25."

With his football background, he knows under-the-hood how the game works. He builds systems and features to improve an already-booming product.

His day begins with playing the game for an hour to study its functions. He begins brainstorming. His journalism background factors in when he writes a time document outlining the goal of an idea and how he would like to implement it into production.

"I put in every situation that might apply or might not apply and give it to an engineer. The engineer puts it into codes, which takes a couple of weeks to build," Oldenburg said. "I sit down and play that future and determine if it's good or needs fixed.

"I keep working on it until it's at the level that we want."

His heart is with the offensive line, having played his entire NFL career at left tackle. But he also integrates defensive tactics to make a more realistic gaming experience.

"I definitely play the offensive side to make sure it's what I want on offense. I know how a play can be broken and how to fix it," he said. "I also test defensive behaviors against those skills."

Oldenburg was drafted by the New England Patriots in the fifth round of the 2007 NFL Draft. He has also been a member of the New York Jets, St. Louis Rams, Denver Broncos, Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins.

Football opened the door and now Oldenburg has moved into a different realm in the game he loves.