Philly fans finally found some football fortune. After seeing their hopes of a Super Bowl title fall just out of reach for three consecutive years, the City of Brotherly Love can at least take cybersolace in an announcement made by software giant Electronic Arts today. The publisher has chosen Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb as the cover athlete for this year's edition of the top-selling Madden NFL franchise.
"This is one of the top honors in the NFL. You have truly made it when you are on the cover of Madden NFL Football," said McNabb. "With the attention and changes they have made to the passing and the focus on the quarterback this year, it was worth the wait to be the cover guy and part of the EA Sports team."
Also in the announcement from EA today was news of Nintendo DS and Game Boy Advance versions being released simultaneously with the console versions. Madden NFL 06 is currently in development at EA Tiburon and will be available this August on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, GameCube, GBA, and DS. However, there's still no word on either next-generation or PSP versions of the game.
The announcement of McNabb as the cover athlete probably doesn't come as a shock to many. The deal was leaked by Street & Smith's Sports Business Journal in April but was only officially announced by EA today. McNabb was also prominent in the next-gen Madden commercial that debuted during the NFL draft, and he was the subject of several screenshots EA trickled out to promote the game.
With the emphasis this year on improving the passing game with the new QB vision control and QB precision placement, EA found its man in McNabb. The field general was named to his fifth consecutive Pro Bowl, thanks to his 104.7 passing rating and 31 touchdowns to only eight interceptions.
But what of the dreaded Madden NFL cover curse? In recent years, Philadelphia fans have more cracks in their collective heart than the Liberty Bell. The latest players to have graced the Madden cover, including Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper, St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk, and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Mike Vick, have seen drops in production, as well as sustained injuries, after posing for the video game cover.
Eagles fans shouldn't ruffle their feathers too much, though, because last year's vocally nonsuperstitious cover athlete, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, was third in the league in tackles while bolstering a strong Ravens defense, thus possibly ending the curse.
McNabb was previously the cover athlete for Sony's NFL GameDay 2002 on the PlayStation 2.