In the past, sports stars knew they had really made it when they landed a deal with a shoe company, soft drink, or even their own cologne. Now, the upper echelon of athletes separates itself from the mere all-stars by one thing: getting on the cover of a sports game. The cream of the crop is the Madden NFL cover, and even with all the superstition that surrounds it, it's still considered a prestigious honor.
Today, on ESPN's SportsCenter, 2005-2006 NFL Most Valuable Player Shaun Alexander was announced as the cover athlete for Madden NFL 2007. The Seattle Seahawks running back was a fixture on highlight reels and delighted fantasy-football owners everywhere by rushing for a record-breaking 27 touchdowns.
"To be on the cover of Madden NFL '07 is a big milestone in my career, since I have always been a huge fan of this franchise," said Alexander.
As is the case, the cover athlete's position represents the latest emphasis on new features in the game. Last year, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb helped usher in the new quarterback vision system, and linebacker Ray Lewis covered the game when defensive tweaks were made to the 2005 edition. This year, Alexander says there will be an "improved running game," but neither he nor EA went into detail.
He and his team may have lost last year's Super Bowl (though some in Seattle would argue that the referees did), but to say things are going well for Alexander would be an understatement. In addition to being on the cover of the most successful gaming franchise, the Alabama alumnus signed an eight-year, $62 million contract last month.
Madden NFL 2007 will be released on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, GameCube, Xbox, Nintendo DS, PC, PlayStation Portable, and Game Boy Advance in August, but noticeably absent were any mentions of a PlayStation 3 or Revolution edition.