Electronic Arts has tried a number of different methods to select the cover athlete of its Madden NFL football series in recent years. For Madden NFL 09, the publisher picked a (supposedly) retired player to front the game in Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. The following year, Madden NFL 10 featured two players for the first time ever when Super Bowl stars Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu shared the featured spot. For last year's game, EA let players choose from three finalists for the cover spot, with Super Bowl quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints landing the honor.
EA is tweaking its cover athlete selection process once again for Madden NFL 12. Today, the publisher announced it would let fans once again vote for the cover and unveiled a 32-man tournament bracket with one representative for each team in the league. Over five rounds--each lasting a week--fans will whittle down the field until only one option remains.
Some of the entrants are obvious, with Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers representing the Green Bay Packers and Philip Rivers giving San Diego Chargers fans a name to vote for. However, the field also includes a handful of household no-names for teams lacking star power, while the Seattle Seahawks wound up represented by its own fan base, collectively known as "The 12th Man."
However, not all fans will be voting for their hometown favorites. Given the oft-documented (and soon-to-be documentaried) Madden Curse, fans may not want their stars anywhere near the game.
After appearing on the Madden NFL 10 cover, Polamalu suffered a knee injury in the second quarter of that season's opening game. Madden NFL 2008's cover athlete, Vince Young, received a knee injury that caused his backup quarterback, Kerry Collins, to start most of the 2008 season. After a string of injuries, 2007 cover star Shaun Alexander went from being the NFL's Most Valuable Player to being a backup running back in just two years. Madden NFL 06 cover athlete Donovan McNabb suffered a season-ending sports hernia halfway through the season after he was named cover athlete. Additionally, 2004 cover athlete Michael Vick missed most of the 2004 season after breaking his leg--and was incarcerated after being convicted on a series of gambling and dogfighting-related felonies in 2007.