Verge Meets: JR Lemon & Scott Porter from Madden 18

In case you’ve been in hibernation Madden NFL 18 is an American football video game based on the National Football League, developed and published by EA Sports for PlayStation 4 and Xbox On (now that’s the formal bit out the way)… 

We got to catch up with JR Lemon and Scott Porter whose voices feature in the game. We spoke about all things Madden, Fantasy Football and some very good advice from the guys on how to become a success in whatever you want to do in life!


For those fans in the U.K who are not to familiar could you give us a bit of info about yourselves? 

Scott Porter: I’ve been on shows such as Friday Night Lights and The heart of Dixie. I played a lot of high school and college football; and in this game (Madden 18) I play Cole Cruise, the best friend of Devin Wade, who is the character you take control over. He’s the guy that’s always there to pick up his best friend. He believes, like a lot of people in this world, that his friend is capable of so much more than he has achieved. He’s there to push him through the good times and the bad times to try and help him succeed; he was a really fun character to play. He is a wide receiver, which is what I played when I was little, so it was a dream come true for me to be a part of a Madden project. I got to play a wide receiver and they gave me my old number 81, so it was a blast.

JR Lemon: I played Devin Wade, who you also get to have control over in the game. For the past five years, I’ve been working ona medical drama called the Night Shift on Netflix in the UK and NBC in the US. I played football at Stanford University and I went to the Oakland Raiders as a free agent. This project was really a crossroads of passions of mine; football was a big passion for me and acting has also become a big passion- I really poured my soul into it.After football, you’re always trying to find out what that number two thing is, and I feel that’s why a lot of footballers go through a lot of stress after the game is gone for them- I don’t care whether you play for 15 years or 5 years. I combined a lot of aspects of my athletic life and my academic life and it was a perfect combination. Madden was interesting because it’s something that’s been in our lives since we was ten or eleven years old, so we’ve known it forever. To get to be a part of the Long Shot project and to get to be a part of a story that is so empathic, a story that is a football story but not just about football. As an actor you’re always searching for those projects where you’re story-telling to make people closer, to make people feel like ‘wow, someone else is going through something’. Playing Devin Wade, a guy who is really living in victimisation, a guy who is afraid to look in the mirror and look at himself and face his issues. A guy who didn’t feel good enough, or feel like he had enough was interesting to play because we all feel like that in one shape or form. It makes it relatable and it connects people who may have never looked at Madden before which absolutely adds a new layer to the Madden franchise.

Scott Porter: Video games are getting to a point where graphics aren’t the focus anymore. The future of video games is in the storytelling and EA is right at the forefront of all of this. This story line is real and so accessible for people who have never even played football. Everybody has had a close friend like this, everyone has felt for their best friend and everybody has tried to overcome hurdles that they thought were impossible. This story is great- we’ve got a Oscar award winner, we’ve got Dan Marino, so that goes to show you how well this was done. It’s the future of video games. 



Both having achieved success in the acting field what advice would you give aspiring actors?

Scott Porter: I happen to believe in ten thousand hours. When you’re young, acting and trying to learn you can’t afford to say no. Time on stage and time performing is precious; you need to perform constantly to learn what to do and what not to do.  You need to learn about yourself and your boundaries and that only happens through hard work. When I was younger I performed as “the wolf-man” on stage at Universal Studios in Florida, and I put a lot of my ten thousand hours in that one. You just can’t be afraid to say yes, especially when you’re first starting out. I think a lot of young actors try to be precious and say that they only want to do good material but sometimes you learn the most by doing something bad and trying to elevate it. Everyone’s road to becoming an actor is different, otherwise everyone would be stuck in the same traffic jam. You’ve got to find what differentiates you; I beatboxed for a long time, JR came from the world of football. So, never be afraid to say yes, that’s my advice!

JR Lemon: I’ve never regretted working as hard as I possibly could on something; I have regretted not working as hard as I could on something. Only by pushing yourself to your absolute max can you say that something worked or didn’t work. When you think about acting, and you think that it’s done well and looks so easy- that can be very misleading. It is a craft, it is a sport. That’s what I thought when I first started acting, I was like ‘man, I’ve got to respect this’. 


Millions of kids dream to be a footballer what is your suggestion?

JR Lemon: I could answer that in so many ways. Treat yourself like you’re a project, break yourself down. If you want to be a good running back, what are the things that good running backs do? They need to have good hands, they need to have good feet, they need to be able to pick up blitz’s and they need to be durable. Figure out what are those things that would give you better hands, what kind of drills can I do? Really diagnose where you are and where you want to be, that’s what I did. It’s actually what I translated to acting as well- pay attention to the details.


Scott Porter: I played in high school and I was pretty good. I then played in college and I realised that I wasn’t NFL material; just be honest with yourself. If you’re honest with yourself then it makes it easier to have fun. Don’t forget that even though it is a game, it’s also a profession and you have to treat it as such, you’re so fortunate to be playing the game and making a living. But for me, just being honest with yourself and realising that if it’s time it will give you a lot of peace when you stop playing. The love for the game never goes away but it was easier for me to walk away because I understood that I had done all that I could. Never be afraid to work as hard as you can because at the end of the day if you don’t succeed, but you worked as hard as you could, you take some solace in that. You can say that there is nothing else that I could have done and it’s easier to move on.

JR Lemon: Do that and you can look in the mirror for the rest of your life. If you don’t try hard enough you’re going to have a tough time.


What is your advice for Fantasy football? As we all have a bit of an addiction. 

Scott Porter: All my fantasy football drafts have already happened. My biggest sleeper this year was Kareem Hunt and I think we all understand how much of a beast he is now- I’m in four leagues and I’ve got him in three! I’d stay away from high-end tight-ends, you can always get a tight end at the back of the draft. Another one of my sleepers is Jack Doyle, he’s a tight-end for the Indiana Colts; when you pay up for someone like Rob Gronkowski you’re losing out on top running back or a top receiver and you need to have more of those on your roster.

JR Lemon: I am actually on hiatus. I have decided to leave fantasy football alone, it took over my life. My Sunday was non-existent and I became the guy who started demonising players because they were injured and I wasn’t happy with myself (laughs). I would say to stay away from the hybrids; the Tavon Austin’s, the guys who do a bunch of things that you feel should be huge in PPR leagues. I would stick to the more traditional players. The best pick I used to have was Marshawn Lynch, I got him before everyone really knew who he was. So, if you don’t have Marshawn Lynch go get him, he’s my favourite running back of all time!


What’s your team? 

JR Lemon: Atalanta Falcons!

Scott Porter:  I’m a Denver Bronco’s fan.


JR, are you still getting over the disappointment of last season?

JR Lemon: I’m okay, I think we have a solid future ahead of us, so I’m not too worried about it.

Scott Porter: My advice to the Falcons fans is that we lost three Superbowls by big margins, and we finally won two. It’s better to be in the Super Bowl and to have that experience because eventually, you’ll win one. So Falcons fans keep your head up!

Are you surprised at how big NFL is over here?

JR Lemon: I get why it’s getting so big over here but I am surprised!  I’m curious to see where it goes.


Do you think it’s possible to get an NFL team over here in the UK?

Scott Porter: It’s interesting that you asked that because we was having a talk on the way over here about how it would work. I was against it, but then we started talking about the idea of realignment and I think it could happen.


Where is the most inappropriate place you checked your fantasy football scores?

Scott Porter: Whilst standing up at a wedding. I was one of the groomsmen and we all walked out and we’re standing waiting for the bride. The bridesmaids didn’t start walking immediately and I had I had to know! So I just slid my phone out of my pocket, you could barely tell!

JR Lemon: Mine’s more about the things that I didn’t go to because I had to stay home and lock myself in the room. It’s even worse (laughs). I didn’t even make it out of the crib, I made up some excuse that I needed to stay home for some odd reason when really all I wanted to do was watch fantasy football all day!


Scott Porter and JR Lemon were speaking at NFL UK’s season kick off event. Porter and Lemon star in the all new ‘Longshot’ story mode in EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18, out NOW on PS4 and Xbox One. To order your copy, head to