NFC South: Madden 13 Cover Vote

NFC South evening update

April, 24, 2012
New Orleans interim head coach Joe Vitt is meeting with the local media right now. It sounds like he’s addressing the bounty situation, the offseason program and lots of other things. We’ll have more on that after Vitt wraps up.

Meantime, let’s take a quick run through some headlines around the NFC South.
  • Louisiana state police and the FBI are conducting a joint investigation into allegations that New Orleans general manager Mickey Loomis had the ability to listen to opposing coaches during home games from 2002 through 2004. Loomis and the team have strongly denied the allegations.
  • Bradley Handwerger writes that the Saints have a public-perception problem on their hands, and they now are viewed as guilty before having a chance to prove their innocence. How do they start getting people to view them in a more positive light? Well, I think that’s going to be a process. But one good way to start that process would be to get quarterback Drew Brees signed to a long-term contract.
  • I’m not a big believer in the alleged “Madden Curse’’. But, apparently, a lot of people are. Here’s a very thorough story on the economic impact of the curse. Keep this in mind, because the Madden 13 Cover Vote ends Wednesday and all indications are that the voting is very close between Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson.
  • Carolina general manager Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera reportedly traveled to Chapel Hill on Monday to meet with North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples. I’m not sure exactly what to read into this, and I’m not ready to go ahead and say Coples will be Carolina’s pick at No. 9. But I do think it’s important to note that Hurney is not the type to play games and send out smokescreens. If he took the time to have this meeting, I’d guess there’s a very real chance Coples could be the pick, if he’s available at No. 9.
  • Here’s an overview of Mark Dominik’s draft classes since taking over as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I guess it’s fair to say the jury is still out. But I also think it’s fair to say the upcoming season is a crucial one for Dominik picks such as Josh Freeman, Gerald McCoy and Brian Price. If they play well, Dominik’s draft history suddenly will look a lot better.
A quick reminder that we’re entering the final hours of the 2013 "Madden" cover vote.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is up against Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson and reports have indicated the voting is very close.

If you haven’t seen it already, here’s the video of Newton making his case to be on the cover. He’s not worried about the alleged “Madden curse." He wants to win this contest.

If you haven’t voted yet, head on over and cast your ballot.

The winner will be announced Wednesday on SportsNation, which airs at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

Cam Newton a 'Madden 13' finalist

April, 18, 2012
This may not be news that a lot of Carolina Panthers fans want to hear. But quarterback Cam Newton has made it all the way to the final round of the Madden 13 Cover Vote.

Newton is up against Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson and the winner will be announced April 25.

I know there’s apprehension about seeing Newton on the cover of the popular video game. That all stems from the alleged “Madden Curse’’. There’s obviously a precedent that some guys who have been on the cover have been injured or had bad seasons. But this hasn’t applied to everyone that’s been on the cover.

I say Carolina fans should embrace the fact Newton is up for this honor. It’s a sign of how far the franchise has come in recent years. Newton is the reason Carolina will play two prime-time games in 2012.

Like it or not, Newton’s ability and personality automatically make him a drawing card. You can vote for him or not, but be ready to see him on the cover because it probably will happen.

NFC South evening update

April, 13, 2012
There hasn’t been a great deal of positive news out of the NFC South for the last month or so. Let’s break tradition and start our Friday evening roundup off with something bright and cheery.

If you’ve ever spent much time around the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, you probably know or have heard of Jill Hobbs. That’s largely because she’s been with the team forever -- almost. Hobbs, currently the team’s director of player benefits and alumni programs manager, will celebrate the 35th anniversary of her hiring on Sunday. The Buccaneers started the celebration Friday by calling all staff members together for a meeting. Then, the Bucs surprised Hobbs, who has worked in a variety of capacities throughout the years, with a celebration and some very nice gifts.
  • Updating a story we mentioned previously, it’s now official -- New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson has agreed to buy the New Orleans Hornets from the NBA. The league took ownership of the team in 2010. Ironically, the announcement of the deal comes on the same day the Hornets host the Utah Jazz, the same franchise that left New Orleans in 1979.
  • Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is in the final four of the Madden 13 Cover Vote. Newton said he’s not worried about the so-called “Madden Curse’’ that has seen some players featured on the cover suffer injuries or have bad seasons. Newton said being on the cover is "what you make it."
  • Take a look at this Insider post Insider that features three underrated prospects that could be available early in the second round. The Buccaneers have a pick early in the second round and this list features a linebacker and running back -- two positions the Bucs could be considering at that time.
  • No surprise here. Safety Tanard Jackson, who was released by the Bucs earlier this week, will join the Washington Redskins. Former Tampa Bay coach Raheem Morris is the defensive backs coach in Washington.
  • Another player released by Tampa Bay this offseason is getting interest from the Tennessee Titans. That's center Jeff Faine.
  • Jeff Duncan reports the deal linebacker David Hawthorne signed with the Saints is very salary-cap friendly. That’s not surprising. Despite having limited cap room, general manager Mickey Loomis has done a nice job of overhauling the linebacker corps. He also has signed Curtis Lofton and Chris Chamberlain to cap-friendly deals.
  • For those tracking pre-draft visits, Memphis defensive tackle Dontari Poe recently visited with the Carolina Panthers.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has taken another step toward being on the cover of "Madden NFL 2013."

Newton has advanced to the final four of the Madden 13 Cover Vote. He’s up against San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis in this round. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Detroit receiver Calvin Johnson are squaring off in the other semifinal.

I’ll leave it up to you if you want to vote for Newton or not. I know there is a contingent of Carolina fans that are apprehensive about this due to the alleged Madden Curse. It’s understandable because a fair amount of players who have graced the cover have had injuries or down seasons. But there have been exceptions, including one from the NFC South. That was Drew Brees, who was on the 2011 cover. Brees had a very good 2011 season, although the Saints were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Seattle.

I understand the fear Carolina fans have about seeing Newton on the cover. But I’m all for seeing him on there. I think it would be good national exposure for a franchise that has had a few down years. I also think it would be good for the NFC South, a division in which fans sometimes have a bit of complex about other divisions and teams in larger markets getting more attention.

The Panthers never have had a player featured on a Madden cover. Brees and former Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick (2004) are the only NFC South players that have earned the honor.
Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is the only NFC South player remaining in the "Madden 13" cover vote.

The list has been trimmed to eight players and Newton is matched against Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald in the latest round. You can cast your vote here.

Newton was a big winner against San Diego tight end Antonio Gates in the previous round. New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was knocked out, losing narrowly to Baltimore running back Ray Rice.
The Madden 13 Cover Vote is down to 16 players, including just two from the NFC South.

Carolina quarterback Cam Newton defeated Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount in the last round and New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees defeated Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan.

You can go here to cast your vote. In this round, Newton faces San Diego tight end Antonio Gates and Brees takes on Baltimore running back Ray Rice.

Time to vote for Madden cover

March, 22, 2012
For just a few minutes, let’s have a little fun and take a break from all the fallout over the New Orleans Saints’ punishments for their bounty program.

Let’s take a walk over to SportsNation where they’re conducting the Madden 13 Cover Vote. There already was a play-in round in which two players from each team were pitted against each other. Now, we’re down to just one player from each team and the competition is interesting.

In this round, we’ve got two head-to-head meetings of NFC South players. Carolina quarterback Cam Newton is a heavy favorite against Tampa Bay running back LeGarrette Blount. Newton is a No. 1 seed and Blount is a No. 16 seed.

In the other matchup, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is a No. 4 seed and he’s going against Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who is a No. 12 seed.

Go on over and cast your votes.