The Race for the Madden 12 Cover and its Story
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 2nd Apr 2011
Madden NFL 12 Cover Athlete to be Unveiled Live on ESPN2's SportsNation
When the final choice of the athlete for the cover of the next game in the Madden Series -- Madden NFL 12 -- is chosen. it will be your votes that determine who ultimately wins that honor. The cover of Madden NFL 12 will be chosen by the fans through an elimination bracket representing a candidate from all 32 teams. You can cast your vote at http://espn.go.com/sportsnation/feature/madden2012cover from March 21st to April 26th -- and the winner will be announced on April 27th live on SportsNation via ESPN2.
The game series -- an American football game developed by Electronic Arts Tiburon for EA Sports -- is named after Pro Football Hall of Famer John Madden, a well-known former Super Bowl-winning coach of the Oakland Raiders and a colorful commentator.
The game series has a well-established history of securing a top-ten slot as a best seller in the sports game genre, largely due to its ultra-realistic features that include online sophisticated playbooks and player statistics, voice commentary allowing players to hear the game as if it was a genuine TV broadcast, and increasingly sophisticated graphics that often blur the line between the real and the animated.
The Madden NFL series was originally conceived by EA founder Trip Hawkins, who initially approached Madden in 1984 for an endorsement of the game and his expertise as a hands-on consultant. The football legend surprised EA first by insisting that the game be as realistic as possible, and then continuing to make suggestions for content and approach that, while traditionally not included in the role of consultant, uniformly improved the games.
The first version -- John Madden Football -- released in 1988, and was not the impressive experience that Madden imagined when he signed on to endorse and consult for the project. Two years later an improved version of the game was published, and in the following two years the annual version was tweaked until, in 1993, Madden and EA recognized that they had achieved something special in their workable base game.
EA then sought and won the official licensing deal with the NFL that gave them the rights to use NFL teams and players in the games, and changed the name of the series to Madden NFL . EA later signed an exclusive license through 2013 with the NFL and the NFLPA to secure the exclusive rights to use the NFL's teams, stadiums, and players in the video game, a move that while good for EA and the franchise has been widely viewed as bad by games journalists, who feel that it reduces the incentive for EA to constantly improve the game.
Since 1988 EA Sports has sold more than 85-million copies of the games, creating a franchise that is not just a fan favorite, but a game that the actual players in the NFL like to play!
It's an Honor to be Chosen
In the 1970's every up and coming rock band knew it had arrived when it got its picture on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine -- and the same became true for professional footballers in 1993, when EA changed its formula for the games, which up to that point had always featured John Madden on the cover on all regional versions.
In 1993 EA picked Garrison Hearst to appear on the PAL version's cover, and every year since then, a player has been chosen to appear on the cover (usually a different player for each region the game appears in).
The Historic Madden NFL Cover Roster
1989 -- Madden (All Regions)
1990 -- Madden (All Regions)
1992 -- Madden (All Regions)
1993 -- Madden (All Regions)
1994 -- Madden (All Regions)
1995 -- Madden (All Regions)
1996 -- Madden (All Regions)
1997 -- Madden (All Regions)
1997 -- Madden (All Regions)
1998 -- Madden (All Regions)
1999 -- Madden (NTSC)
1999 -- Madden & Garrison Hearst (PAL)
2000 -- Madden & Detroit Lions' Barry Sanders (NTSC) (1)
2000 -- Madden & Green Bay Packers' Dorsey Levins (PAL) (2)
2001 -- Tennessee Titans' Eddie George (NTSC)
2002 -- Minnesota Vikings' Daunte Culpepper (NTSC)
2003 -- St. Louis Rams' Marshall Faulk (NTSC)
2004 -- Atlanta Falcons' Michael Vick (NTSC)
2005 -- Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis (NTSC)
2006 -- Philadelphia Eagles Donovan McNabb (NTSC)
2007 -- Seattle Seahawks' Shaun Alexander (NTSC)
2008 -- Tennessee Titans' Vince Young (NTSC)
2009 -- Green Bay Packers' Bret Favre (NTSC) (3)
2010 -- Pittsburgh Steelers' Troy Polamalu and Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald (NTSC) (4)
2011 -- New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees (NTSC)
In addition to the cover list above, alternate players appeared on the Spanish language version of the games that were released in the NTSC Regions, and the PAL Region and various other regions have featured different players on their respective covers, not all of which are included above.
The Cover Curse
While viewed as an incredible honor, and like the cover of Rolling Stone, evidence that the footballer has truly arrived as an icon of the sport, there is also a curse thought to be associated with being selected for the cover!
Certain players -- but not every player -- who appeared on the Madden video game box art have experienced some sort of a decline in performance, often due to an injury, and the phenomenon happened often enough that in 2007 fans of San Diego Chargers' Running Back LaDainian Tomlinson actually lobbied against his appearing on the game cover.
Going so far as to create petitions and a website when it was announced that EA was considering him for the cover of the 2007 game, the fans appear to have had their way when Tomlinson declined the offer -- but not because of the curse. In a statement to the press Tomlinson indicated that his reason for declining the offer from EA was solely due to contract negotiations complications, and not the curse.
Selecting the Cover for 2012
Your votes will determine who graces the cover of Madden 12. Join hosts Colin Cowherd and Michelle Beadle on "SportsNation" throughout the voting period for interviews with the candidates and more game coverage. SportsNation broadcasts weekdays at 4 PM EST (9 PM GMT) on ESPN2 via satellite.
* Opening Round: March 21-27
* Second Round: March 28-April 3
* Third Round: April 4-10
* Semifinals: April 11-17
* Finals: April 18-26
Here at Gaming Update we are not all huge American Football fans (Man United, here we go!) but we know people that are -- so we sat down with them and had them explain all of this to us...
It seems that in spite of his rather unsavory reputation as a supporter of dog-fighting, Michael Vick appears to be the favorite of Madden gamers so far. Comments online and the superlatives being directed at the man suggest that he is either the greatest video game quarterback ever created, or gamers hope that the Madden Curse will land squarly on him when he is selected as the cover athlete...
According to the latest figures Vick has an impressive lead -- and no, we don't really believe that gamers are fitting him for a Curse Jacket! Seriously, we were being funny! If the trend maintains, Vick could well be the winner, but you know how these things go, so we will just have to wait and see. We will keep an eye on the situation and keep you updated.
(1) Later editions of the game featured Dorsey Levens on the cover in place of Barry Sanders.
(2) Although selected as the cover athlete and appearing on the first run of games produced, Barry Sanders announcement of his retirement prior to the season opening meant that EA would need to select a different athlete for subsequent editions for that year's game.
(3) Favre's trade to the New York Jets after the cover art for the game was finalized meant that he appeared on the game cover in his Green Bay uniform rather than the Jet's colors. EA offered players the ability to correct this situation by placing a printer-ready file on the official Madden website with a corrected cover that gamers could print out, trim, and insert into their game case.
(4) The first cover ever to feature two players.