The game was the first to feature the concept of covering the ball while running and the chop block and "clothesline" techniques which were later scrapped and moved to players simply tackling ball-carriers. Although players' heights now resemble their real life counterparts, all players share the same sized physiques. The game also had twelve historic teams including the 1978 Steelers and 1985 Bears and secret teams such as the Tiburon sports team and NFL All-Star teams from each decade. The Cleveland Browns, who were a year away from rejoining the league, can be accessed for exhibition games via the password "WELCOMEBACK".
This was the first Madden game to feature Franchise Mode, in which the user could control their team for 15 seasons, complete with realistic NFL type schedules consisting of alternating inter-conference divisional opponents. The user was able to trade, sign/release and draft players. There were a couple of drawbacks to this feature, the first being was that only one player/team owner was allowed to participate during the same franchised season, and the second prohibited any created players from being added to specific teams or to the free agent pool.
The game was one of the few Playstation games to support two multi-taps allowing for up to eight players to play simultaneously.