The cover to the Madden series of video games is both a great honor and a horrible curse. It’s an honor because you become the face of both the NFL and the world’s most popular football video game series (it’s also the only NFL game in town). It’s a curse because of the so-called Madden Curse that seems to herald an injury or a sudden decline in skills for its cover athletes. However, it seems that EA Sports has figured out a way to break the curse: have a retired Hall of Fame player be on the cover. Detroit Lions legend Barry Sanders will be the Madden 25 cover athlete.
Barry Sanders bested dozens of NFL greats, from all-timers like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice to modern players like Adrian Peterson, who Sanders dethroned in the final round. The voting was held via ESPN, and the announcement for the Madden cover was made on ESPN Sportsnation. Sanders was a 10-time Pro Bowl player in 10 seasons, won the NFL MVP in 1997, had a 2000-yard season (also in 1997), is the NFL’s third all-time leading rusher with 15269 yards and 109 touchdowns, was an AP All-American at Oklahoma State University, and even won a Heisman Trophy for his troubles in three seasons of college ball.
This is a great pick by the fans, because Barry Sanders is to Madden NFL as Bo Jackson is to Tecmo Bowl. He was a force of nature on that game and definitely one of the best running backs to ever tote the rock in the NFL, be it the real NFL (where he rivaled Jim Brown in terms of his abilities and his early retirement) to the virtual NFL (where he was borderline unstoppable due to his speed and difficulty to tackle). He is also one of my favorite players ever to watch, and one of the big reasons why I got into the NFL as a youngster. Hopefully Madden and company will throw Barry back into the football mix and show people what the man could do.
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