This year, Madden NFL 25 welcomes sideline reporter Danielle Bellini, an Emmy-award winning television host who has worked for NBC, The CW Network and more.
Bellini has been exposed to all sorts of different sports as a host and co-producer of a weekly sports show.
EA SPORTS sat down to get to know the new member of the broadcast team a bit and talk about roaming the virtual sidelines in Madden NFL 25.
EA: You’re a new face to a lot of the Madden NFL community. Can you talk a bit about your background?
DB: I started out a freelance television host and I’ve always loved sports and feature reporting, so when this opportunity came up it was just an amazing one for me. I have a lot of experience working in national newsrooms and my first on-air experience was reporting traffic from a helicopter!
In my career I’ve covered everything from breaking news to sports, features, and entertainment. My favorite job has been hosting and co-producing a sports show for television where I got to motivate and inspire young people to live active lifestyles.
EA: Are there any particular sports experiences that stand out? Any favorite moments?
DB: It’s been so cool to learn new sports. I’ve learned boxing, bass fishing, and football from professional athletes. It’s been a unique opportunity to learn from the best and be behind the scenes in the sports world.
EA: How did you find out about this new sideline reporter role in Madden NFL 25?
DB: I was in Las Vegas when a friend of mine called and told me about the opportunity. She said “Dani, you’re going to be immortalized!” I dropped everything I was doing and started thinking about what I needed to do to be a part of this team. Madden is the greatest football game of all time and I immediately knew the magnitude of what it would mean to be a part of it.
The process was so awesome because the people were fantastic. I auditioned, got a crash course on the technical aspects of the game and then said to myself “Dani, you’re on the sidelines. Passion, energy, bring the game to life,” and I really wanted to do it right.
EA: How was the actual process of recording, and how did you psych yourself up?
DB: The process was more than I could have ever expected! I got to work with some of the most creative, intelligent and fun people I’ve ever worked with in my career. There were so many lines; player names, coaches, team names. I’ve always wanted to be a sideline reporter, and reporting from the virtual sideline is the real deal.
At every recording session I had an index card that said things like “football, passion, energy, ‘you are in the game’, or ‘bring the games to life” and I wanted the sideline reporter to be as authentic and natural and as in love with football as possible.
EA: What was your prep process like?
DB: Throughout the months and months of recording I tried to treat it like I was a professional athlete. I was working out, trying not to get sick; I drank so much chamomile tea and honey that I can’t even drink it anymore. It was kind of intense because those recording sessions can be mentally and physically draining. I wanted to be at peak performance because reading that many lines and keeping it natural and exciting is challenging. Bottled water, tea with honey and vocal spray were all constant companions. But I never lost my voice!
EA: Any idea of how many pages of lines you would go through in a day? How long did a normal session last?
DB: I think we recorded around 100 hours. I’d get an email with 60 pages of scripts, and I’d print them out and sit there with a black pen and a red pen. With the red pen I’d write the theme of each report, and with the black pen I’d make sure I understood every technical term and what the report was about.
I treated it like I was a sideline reporter in the NFL and I was preparing for every Sunday night. The fans can tell instantly if you love football and if you really want to be on the sideline. I would picture every report with the crowd, the cameras, Jim and Phil, the action on the sidelines; visualize all that in my head so I could deliver the lines in the best possible way.
Most sessions were around four hours each, and we would do a few every week.
EA: How did the audio team immerse you in the atmosphere and make it feel like you were truly on the sidelines?
DB: When I was rehearsing I’d have friends and family do a toss. So they’d be like “and now let’s go to Dani Bellini. Danni what do you have for us?” and I’d jump into the script. That really helped get me mentally into the place I needed to be. During recordings sometimes I’d say “and now here’s Dani” and picture Jim Nantz, so now I have a visual impression of Jim Nantz in my head forever!
The guys also helped me out by letting me know the game situation, where we were in the season and guiding the tone of the report and how it should be delivered. Also, a really simple thing they did that really helped was just to say “Dani, have fun!”
EA: How did your reports differ based on game situations or moments in a season?
DB: Each report felt so different, so you want to get it right. I also kept videos on my iPhone of different sideline reporters so I could learn from the best.
EA: What were some of your favorite memories of the process?
DB: It’s so fun to be a part of something people are excited to work on. These guys love the game, and being in that environment makes it easy to love the game as well. Just being part of such a big experience is great.
EA: What’s one thing you’d like for people to know about you as they meet you (virtually) for the first time?
DB: I just want the fans to know that I love the game as much as they do. I’m a huge football fan and I put everything I had into these reports. I wanted to make the virtual sidelines feel like the real sidelines. I truly feel like I’m a part of history and what better year to be in the game than in the 25th anniversary?
Check out Dani on the virtual sideline when Madden NFL 25 launches Tuesday, August 27. If you’d like to learn more about Dani in the meantime you can check out her website.