Tech - ESPN Playbook: New York Jets
March, 22, 2013
EA SportsWhen it comes to the greatest player in "Madden" history, Michael Vick is the clear No. 1.Note: This article originally published on March 12, 2012. To vote for the "Madden NFL 25" cover, please click here.
Michael Vick is to "Madden" what Bo Jackson is to "Tecmo Bowl."
A level of domination so extreme, so in-your-face, that you can't think of the game without the virtual athlete attached.
Same goes for Tom Chambers dunking from the 3-point line in "Lakers vs. Celtics" and Jeremy Roenick's absurd ability to make little Wayne's head bleed in "NHL."
So it got me thinking: If I had to put together an all-time team of "Madden" athletes, a team of the greatest virtual ballers this side of Bo and LT from "Tecmo Bowl," who would make the cut?
To help me out with this squad of superstars (and seriously overrated not-so-superstars who played like Hall of Famers for at least one year in the video game), I went straight to the source, enlisting the help of some of the brains behind the "Madden" franchise throughout the years.
So I flew out to the "Madden" game factory in Maitland, Fla., for the day, and picked the brains of Donny Moore ("Madden" ratings guru), Anthony Stevenson (marketing director), Larry Richart (central gameplay designer) and Michael Young (creative director), to get their thoughts on the greatest virtual athletes of our time.
Here's the team we came up with:
April, 15, 2012
EA Sports"Madden 13" shows off the new Nike NFL uniforms.
When it comes to the secrecy surrounding what the new Nike uniforms will look like in "Madden NFL 13," the game's art director, Jean Adams, says the design team's studio was on CIA-type lockdown.
"We moved all of the people working on the Nike project into one room, and we even disabled the Internet connection in the room just to guarantee there would be no leaks," Adams explains to me over the phone as Nike unveiled the real NFL uniforms to the world on Tuesday. "I first saw these a few months ago, so it's great to finally be able to show what they will look like in the game."
Adams flew out to Portland to meet with the uniform designers, and was one of the first people outside of Nike to see the early prototypes. "I saw the generic uniform that all of the new NFL uniforms were going to spawn from," says Adams. "At that meeting, we didn't see the actual uniforms, but they gave us enough information so we could get started with the design in 'Madden 13.' Based off the initial designs, we were able to get the templates into the game, and then a few weeks after that, I met with the designers again and that's when I saw the final uniforms.
"That's when we were able to photograph all of the uniforms and get all of the pictures back to the artists at EA. It was all very hush-hush. It's probably the most secretive project I've been a part of since working at EA."
On top of the secret room and meetings, the producers of the game even had to make a separate build of the "Madden 13" preview code to limit access, blocking even other members of the "Madden" team from seeing some of the designs before they were announced. "That was the strangest part of the process for me," says Adams. "But if anything got out before the announcement, we wanted to make sure that the leak wasn't from us."
EA SportsA closer look at the Ravens new Nike uniforms in "Madden NFL 13."
But now that Nike has finally unveiled the new look, Adams can't stop gushing about the cool details he notices upon closer inspection. "The material actually changes the colors for some of the teams," he says. "The Buccaneers' color shifts a little bit with the pants, and the Saints, they usually have gold, but the way the uniform is matted it changes the way it looks slightly. All of the cuts and designs are all very angular, and the stitching around the collar is very unique and will be really noticeable to a lot of the fans watching the games. There is also a new look to the pants where a lot of players are going to incorporate what looks like the Pro Combat-style pads to their thighs and knees, and that's very distinct.
"I think when people play 'Madden' and they zoom in, they are going to notice a lot of the cool little details, because everything from the stitching to the piping is different. The pants are different because they have a jersey mesh on the side, and they've never had that, so I think gamers are going to appreciate that we have all of the details right. We even have some of the details and jerseys Nike hasn't revealed just yet. There are a lot of great alternate uniforms this year that people are going to love. There are some big surprises that are coming with helmets and things like that, that people don't know about. I can't wait until they see it in the game."
April, 13, 2012
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhIf Cam Newton wants the "Madden 13" cover, first he's going to need to beat Patrick Willis.Cam Newton has clobbered every player on his way to the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote final four. So much so, that I just assumed he'd dispatch of hard-hitting linebacker Patrick Willis before the weekend and secure his plane tickets to the New York cover unveiling in a couple of weeks.
But not so fast.
I don't know if Cam's support is wavering or the Carolina faithful are all of a sudden worried about the dreaded "Madden" cover curse, but Willis shot out of the gates strong, and heading into the weekend, Newton holds only 52.8 percent of the vote.
That makes the next few days key in deciding this tight race as the lone defensive player left in the bracket tries to make a final push to pull off the biggest upset of the cover vote tournament so far.
Can Willis really beat Newton and advance to the cover vote finals in New York? Head to the official SportsNation "Madden NFL 13" bracket page now and let your voice be heard before it's too late.
April, 11, 2012
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesCam Newton faces Patrick Willis this week in the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote.
With the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote down to the round of four, is it inevitable that we'll see a battle of Cam Newton versus Calvin Johnson in the finals?
Not so fast. While Cam and Megatron have been Nos. 1 and 2 in total votes since the competition began, they each face players who seem to be surging at the right time (and from teams with millions of faithful voters).
Only time will tell if the Packers and 49ers fans vote with their hearts and try to help Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Willis advance to the finals, or if an anti-curse vote from all four fan bases turns the final four into a free-for-all.
Here are my predictions:
(1) Cam Newton vs. (11) Patrick Willis
Willis is not only the lowest seed still left in the tournament, he's the only defensive player still standing. And while I would love to see Willis crushing a quarterback on the cover of "Madden 13" (complete with old-school ambulance), Newton is a beast in the fan vote so far, and I don't think Willis is going to be the one to stop him.
AP Photo/Joe MahoneyCalvin Johnson looks to run away from the field in the "Madden 13" cover vote.(1) Aaron Rodgers vs. (6) Calvin Johnson
Rodgers would've been the perfect cover athlete last year, but for "Madden 13" it seems like Megatron's vote to lose. Besides, "Madden" is historically dominated by big receivers out-jumping everyone for the ball, and I have a feeling Johnson is going to be an unstoppable force once "13" ships in late August.
Head to the official SportsNation "Madden 13" cover page to cast your vote for your favorite player (or player you're most hoping to curse).
April, 6, 2012
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagePatrick Willis is beating Victor Cruz in the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote.With the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote down to the Elite Eight, the closest battle is also the most voted on matchup of the round, and it's between Patrick Willis of the 49ers and Victor Cruz of the Super Bowl champion Giants.
And while Cruz has been receiving some of the highest vote totals of any player throughout the early eliminations, he finds himself falling behind Willis early in their head-to-head struggle, with Willis collecting 54 percent of the vote to date.
Could be that New York fans are finally voting with their brains and not their hearts, hoping to jinx their NFC rivals with the "Madden" cover curse. Then again, Willis has been such a beast in the polygonal football franchise for years, gamers might be paying back millions of Hit Sticks with votes, hoping to see the last remaining defensive player in the tournament finally get some glory.
Don't want to see Cruz eliminated? Ready to vote Willis through to the Final Four? Either way, head to the official SportsNation "Madden NFL 13" cover site now and cast your vote before time runs out on your favorite player.
April, 3, 2012
Chris Morrison/US PresswireIf Larry Fitzgerald wants the "Madden 13" cover, he's going to need to beat Cam Newton.And then there were eight.
One linebacker, one running back, two quarterbacks, three wide receivers and one tight end.
Patrick Willis has pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the "Madden" Cover Vote to date, advancing to the Elite Eight from the 11-seed. Both No. 1 seeds are still in the tournament (Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers), both No. 2 seeds remain unbeaten (Rob Gronkowski, Victor Cruz), and Larry Fitzgerald continues to stay alive in his quest to become the first-ever two-time "Madden" cover athlete.
Can Fitzgerald really pull this off? Let's take a look at how the round of eight matches stack up.
(1) Cam Newton vs. (4) Larry Fitzgerald
Newton continues to receive more votes than any other player in the tournament, and it's not even close. This is Newton's first tough test, however, and Fitzgerald has proven in his big wins over LeSean McCoy and Troy Polamalu that he has some serious fan support backing his candidacy. I'm still picking Newton to win it all, though, so I say he squeaks by Fitzgerald here and ends the receiver's dream/nightmare of the double cover/curse.
(11) Patrick Willis vs. (2) Victor Cruz
Win McNamee/Getty ImagesIf Victor Cruz wins the cover, will the curse prevent a Giants repeat?Willis is the only defensive player left in the tournament. Really? Out of eight players, only one on defense? I guess if any defender should win the cover, it's Willis, one of the all-time best "Madden" characters, and the player who has won me hundreds of games, thanks to the Hit Stick. Cruz is probably going to win this matchup, but I'm voting defense.
(1) Aaron Rodgers vs. (5) Ray Rice
I actually think Rice is going to pull off the upset here. Rice already beat Drew Brees, A.J. Green and T-Sizzle, but Rodgers is going to be a tough player to knock out of the tournament. Then again, Rice has already proven this year, with his win in the "NFL Blitz" cover vote, that Ravens fans come out in full force to support their star, and I think Packers fans are going to vote for Rice in an "avoid the curse" campaign, swaying things ultimately in Rice's favor.
(6) Calvin Johnson vs. (2) Rob Gronkowski
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThe Megatron versus Gronk vote should go down to the wire.I expect this to be the closest vote in the Elite Eight. Both these players have been collecting huge numbers of votes in the early rounds, but I think Megatron is going to be the one who ultimately spikes Gronk. If we get Detroit on the "Madden" cover, can we get Eminem to do the game's soundtrack?
So what are you waiting for? Head to the official SportsNation home of the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote, and cast your vote today for your favorite player (or the player you're most hoping to curse).
April, 3, 2012
Jeff Lewis/Icon SMIRay Rice is starting to flex in the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote.
With only a day left in the "Madden NFL 13" round of 16 cover vote, Ray Rice has retaken the lead over Drew Brees in their back-and-forth matchup. Brees took a slight advantage into the weekend, but Ray Rice fans came out strong on Sunday, and now Rice has jumped in front of the Saints quarterback by a 50.3 percent to 49.7 percent margin. To break the numbers down even further, that's less than a two thousand vote lead heading into the final hours. Talk about going down to the wire.
In other Sweet 16 news, it looks like Arian Foster's string of upsets is about to come to an end. After taking out both Andre Johnson and Tim Tebow, Foster is now getting pummeled by Calvin Johnson, with Megatron collecting a whopping 73 percent of the vote. Cam Newton is still the only player getting more votes than Johnson, leading me to believe we are going to see the two young stars square off in the finals.
Another player who continues to draw big numbers is Rob Gronkowski. Gronk is doing whatever he can to help his own cause, including the creation of a new video where he spikes a melon to show what he'd do to his round of 16 opponent, Jared Allen, then in true gamer fashion, shouts, "Boomshackalacka!"
Looks like if anyone can take down Megatron in the right bracket, it's Gronk, especially if next round he makes some cool, smashing up Transformers video to boost his candidacy.
Another guy to watch out for is Aaron Rodgers. I thought he had a good shot at winning it all last year, but this year, his support actually seems to be stronger. Rodgers is destroying Marshawn Lynch right now, collecting 64 percent of the vote, and should make for tough competition as he faces the winner of the Ray Rice/Drew Brees battle in the Elite Eight.
Don't like the results so far? Head to the official SportsNation "Madden NFL 13" cover page and cast your vote before it's too late.
March, 30, 2012
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireDrew Brees could become the first two-time "Madden" cover star. Will the curse be twice as strong?Early numbers are in for the latest round of the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote, and there are a couple of surprises to report.
The closest race right now is Drew Brees versus Ray Rice. Rice took an early lead on Wednesday, but then Saints fans came out in full force Thursday night, and now Brees is up by the narrowest of margins -- 51 percent to 49 percent -- which translates to just a few thousand votes. I expect this one to come down to the final hours next week.
Another tight race is between Larry Fitzgerald and LeSean McCoy. After beating both Michael Vick and Reggie Bush convincingly, McCoy has fallen behind Fitzgerald by a few percentage points. If Philly fans want to push Shady through to the Elite Eight, they need to show up big this weekend, as the latest numbers show Fitzgerald holding 54 percent of the vote.
In the Battle of New York, Victor Cruz holds a commanding lead over Darrelle Revis, and with the numbers Cruz continues to put up round after round, the Giants receiver could end up being Cam Newton's biggest competition on the left side of the bracket.
Speaking of the left bracket, Patrick Willis looks to pull off the biggest upset of the tournament so far, as the 11 seed (who already upset both Vernon Davis and Matt Forte) is currently crushing former Madden Bowl champ, Maurice Jones-Drew. Will we finally see a defensive player appear solo on the cover? Hasn't happened since Ray Lewis introduced the Hit Stick back in "Madden NFL 2005" (arguably the best "Madden" of all time).
If anyone deserves the honor, it's Willis, the player who brings the Hit Stick with him on every play.
"When you're playing 'Madden,' people throw the ball over the middle too much. I want them to show people get a crushed collarbone or a crushed ankle or a crushed sternum or something," Willis told me during a recent interview. "I wish when you put a Hit Stick on someone, you could put them out of the game. I was playing the other day, and I was in a Cover 2 Man, and my homeboy was completing passes over my defenders every time. I just want to Hit Stick him and put him out of the game."
Sounds like it's time to bring back the old "Madden" ambulance and put it on the cover next to Willis. Talk about a box to remember.
Don't like the results? Head to the official SportsNation Madden Cover Vote page and cast your vote today to make a difference before time runs out on your favorite player.
March, 28, 2012
Derick E. Hingle/US PresswireMegatron on the cover of "Madden 13"? It could happen.Is there a favorite to win the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote?
Looking at the numbers, I'd say there are two: Cam Newton and Calvin Johnson.
After two rounds, Cam has received more votes than any other player in the tournament, with Megatron a close second.
But I also wouldn't count out guys like Victor Cruz or Rob Gronkowski, as both of these players seem poised to pull off an upset or two on their way to the cover.
Then again, you never know whose fans will step up and ignite an online campaign to push them through to the finals. Last year, Peyton Hillis almost lost in the second round, then out of nowhere, his numbers started to explode thanks to various online campaigns from both the Browns and a few social media-savvy superfans who wanted to see their favorite bruising back finally get the glory (even if the "Madden" curse seems to already have crushed his career).
And with the round of 16 kicking off Wednesday over at SportsNation, here's a look at this week's matchups:
THE CAM NEWTON IS A MONSTER BRACKET
(1) CAM NEWTON vs. (8) ANTONIO GATES
Streeter Lecka/Getty ImagesSo far, Cam Newton has more votes than any other player in the tournament.This looks like another easy round for Cam. Gates is a "Madden" legend of epic proportions, but I have a feeling Newton's "Madden 13" character will be remembered as one of the all-time greats when the game ships in August.
(5) LESEAN MCCOY vs. (4) LARRY FITZGERALD
Larry Fitzgerald already had his turn on the cover, so give this one to Shady. If McCoy wins, then goes down this year thanks to the curse, how do you think the city of Philadelphia will react? I can see thousands of people burning "Madden" boxes as part of the tailgating tradition already.
(11) PATRICK WILLIS vs. (3) MAURICE JONES-DREW
Out of the 16 players remaining, Patrick Willis is one of only two defensive players. To me, Willis is the Hit Stick, and I'd love to see his candidacy continue to gain momentum. I think he knocks off MJD in an upset.
(7) DARRELLE REVIS vs. (2) VICTOR CRUZ
I love how the battle of New York is between a wide receiver and a corner. If only we could settle this on the field somehow. One pass to win the game (and cover), Eli Manning throws the ball up to Cruz, if he catches it, he wins, if Revis knocks it down or picks it off, we get a Jet in the Elite Eight. I'd put my money on Revis in the competition, but Cruz in a fan vote.
THE AARON RODGERS HAS TOUGHER COMPETITION THAN I THOUGHT BRACKET
AP Photo/Bill KostrounAaron Rodgers looks to move on to the Elite Eight in the "Madden" cover vote.(1) AARON RODGERS vs. (8) MARSHAWN LYNCH
"I eat your Skittles" is 2012's "I drink your milkshake." Rodgers is moving on.
(5) RAY RICE vs. (4) DREW BREES
This might be the closest race in the round of 16. Ray Rice has proven with his win in the "NFL Blitz" cover vote that his fans come out in big numbers to help support his video game addiction, so I wouldn't put it past him to knock off Brees here.
(6) CALVIN JOHNSON vs. (3) ARIAN FOSTER
Arian Foster already beat both Tim Tebow and Andre Johnson in convincing fashion. Can he make it three huge upsets in a row? I think the streak ends here with Megatron. The numbers Johnson is pulling in so far are staggering.
(7) JARED ALLEN vs. (2) ROB GRONKOWSKI
Gronkowski has been pushing hard for the cover, making a cool video where he works out and shouts "Woooo!" like Ric Flair, and even talking to me about his love for "Call of Duty" and "Madden." Jared Allen and his legion of mullets have no chance.
March, 27, 2012
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackMaurice Jones-Drew is looking like a strong contender for the "Madden NFL 13" cover.
When I first saw the brackets for the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote and saw that both Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler were eligible, I thought EA Sports was putting itself in serious jeopardy of having a kicker or punter on the cover of their game.
I was betting that some sort of "Elect a Kicker to the Cover" campaign would've been started by some radio DJ as a joke, and next thing you know, EA's big box reveal would be an awkward picture of "Sea Bass" mugging for the camera.
Luckily for EA Sports, no such campaign occurred, and after Janikowski eliminated Lechler in the teammate versus teammate play-in round, Janikowski's numbers fell back to earth in the round of 32 voting, and the kicker is losing by a pretty wide margin to Maurice Jones-Drew, 65 percent to 35 percent.
And while I broke down some of the big winners of the week yesterday, there are two other match-ups that I'm surprised have turned into complete blowouts.
The first is the battle of "Madden NFL 10" cover stars, Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu. Fitzgerald jumped out to a huge lead from day one, and his supporters haven't let up, giving Fitzgerald a shocking 72 percent of the vote to date.
And if you thought that was huge, wait until you hear the numbers Rob Gronkowski is putting up. Gronk is beating down his new Patriots teammate, Brandon Lloyd, collecting a whopping 85 percent of the vote.
And while it might be too late to change B-Lloyd's cover fate, it's not too late to let your voices be heard for your other favorite players. Head to the official SportsNation cover vote page by Wednesday at 10 am ET to cast your votes before we move on to the Sweet 16.
March, 26, 2012
Getty ImagesTim Tebow is currently losing to Arian Foster in the "Madden" cover vote.When the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote was announced, the country was still buzzing from Tebowmania, and in all honesty, it looked like Tim Tebow's tournament to lose. A month later, Tebow has not only lost his spot as a starting quarterback in the NFL, he's losing the "Madden" vote by a surprisingly wide margin to Arian Foster.
Foster campaigned hard for the cover, spending the day in Bristol to talk up his candidacy, and it looks like all of his interviews paid off. In fact, everyone who spent the day with Foster at ESPN and campaigned for the cover, including LeSean McCoy and Victor Cruz, is winning big, proving that if you want the people to vote for you, sometimes you have to shake some hands and kiss a few babies (or at least, talk on-air about how you're a gamer).
And while Cam Newton is still crushing the field and getting the most votes of any other player in the tournament, there is a new number two in total votes, and that's Calvin Johnson. Megatron is straight-up laying the smackdown on Dwayne Bowe, and could end up going all the way if his huge swell of support continues.
Add to that the fact that Darrelle Revis is currently wiping the floor with Stevie Johnson, and it looks like we will end up with Revis taking on Cruz in a Jets versus Giants match-up in the Sweet 16.
Then again, just like any fan vote, things can change at a moment's notice. And with voting for the round of 32 open through Wednesday at 10 am ET, there is still plenty of time to vote your favorites through to the next round (or your least favorites one step closer to the curse).
March, 21, 2012
Sam Sharpe/US PresswireAfter receiving more votes than any other player in round one, Cam Newton is the favorite to win the "Madden 13" cover.Last year's "Madden" cover vote finals featured Michael Vick versus Peyton Hillis.
One year later, Hillis' career has been cursed to the point where he wasn't even invited back to defend his cover, and Michael Vick already got bounced out of the tournament by teammate LeSean McCoy.
What a difference a year makes.
And actually, what a difference a month can make in trying to predict exactly who will end up on the cover of "Madden NFL 13." What started as a 64-player tournament with everyone picking Tim Tebow to win it all, is now down to 32 players, and even though Tebow has already advanced over Von Miller in a tight first-round race, I really don't see a guy who is about to be booted out of Denver winning a popularity contest anytime soon.
Then again, when the vote is open to the public, you never know, as maybe Tebow's fans will vote by the millions in order to help lift their fallen quarterback when he needs them most. Or maybe, just maybe, enough people will come out and support Sebastian Janikowski just so we can see the first kicker on the cover of the game.
Voting for the final 32 competitors is bracket-style, with each player given a seeding based on a variety of factors, including on-field performance, marketability/popularity, and the amount of votes they received to advance in the teammate-versus-teammate round of 64.
"Most fans look at the seeding from a straight on-field performance perspective, but what people need to realize is that the winner represents EA Sports, he represents 'Madden NFL 13,' and there are a lot of factors that we consider," explains Anthony Stevenson, the marketing director behind the "Madden" franchise. "It's fun because we created this tournament thinking about March Madness and everything that goes along with it, from Selection Sunday to the brackets. Any time the committee gets together, there's always teams that get snubbed, there's always the teams that people think are overrated or underrated, and that's the same type of thing that makes the 'Madden' cover vote fun. That's what sparks debate.
"Look at what happened with Tim Tebow. Before Peyton Manning joined the Broncos, Tebow would've been one of the higher seeds in the tournament. But now, there's so much uncertainty surrounding him -- will he be traded, will he be a starting quarterback somewhere else, will he even still be a quarterback -- that now he's a 14-seed. Just like March Madness, you just never know what will happen next."
Round of 32 voting kicks off today on ESPN's official SportsNation "Madden" Cover Vote page.
But before you click for your favorites (or the player you most want to curse), here are some of my initial thoughts and predictions on the upcoming round after getting a first look at the bracket.
THE NEWTON OR BUST BRACKET
(1) CAM NEWTON vs. (16) LEGARRETTE BLOUNT
Newton received the most votes of any player in the round of 64, and I don't expect him to have any problem beating Blount here, even if I can watch Blount hurdle defenders all day. Cam seems like he's on the fast track to the cover, but will any type of sophomore slump be escalated by the curse?
(8) ANTONIO GATES vs. (9) DWIGHT FREENEY
(5) LESEAN MCCOY vs. (12) REGGIE BUSH
Little known fact: Bush was going to be on the cover of "Madden NFL 08," becoming the first player ever to earn the cover of "NCAA Football" and "Madden" in back-to-back years. But because of the controversy surrounding the USC scandal at the time, EA made the last-minute switch to Vince Young. This is Bush's chance to finally claim a "Madden" cover of his own, but judging by the numbers McCoy was able to generate against Vick, it doesn't look promising.
(4)LARRY FITZGERALD vs. (13) TROY POLAMALU
This is not only a battle of former cover stars, these two actually shared the cover of "Madden NFL 10." I'm taking Fitzgerald here, but after Troy beat Big Ben in Round 1, it wouldn't surprise me if the hard-hitting safety kept his winning streak alive.
(6) MATT FORTE vs. (11) PATRICK WILLIS
Willis was just named one of the best "Madden" characters of all time. The man needs a cover.
(3) MAURICE JONES-DREW vs. (14) SEBASTIAN JANIKOWSKI
How embarrassing would it be to lose to a kicker? MJD is one of, if not the single best, "Madden" gamer in the NFL. He's already won the "Madden" Bowl, and I think he might be the one player in this tournament who would truly appreciate the honor of being known as the "Madden" guy in the league and to gamers around the world. I just hope the only kicker I know dealing with anger management issues doesn't boot MJD's dream out from under him.
(7) DARRELLE REVIS vs. (10) STEVIE JOHNSON
Anthony Gruppuso/US PresswireStevie Johnson said any touchdown dance this year will be tame -- with no penalties.If Revis is the Superman of cornerbacks, Johnson's uniform must be made of Kryptonite. Johnson torched Revis when the two met last season (even mocking the Jets and wide receiver Plaxico Burress with a simulated shooting touchdown celebration), so it will be interesting to see what happens when the two square off in a fan vote. I'm taking Revis (and still hoping that "Madden 13" will feature Johnson's now-infamous TD celebration).
(2) VICTOR CRUZ vs. (15) BRIAN ORAKPO
Fresh off a Super Bowl victory, Cruz was one of the top vote-getters in all of Round 1. But will he be "Orakpoed" in Round 2? If only EA and Geico could pull off a deal to put the caveman on the cover (in his cheerleading costume, of course).
THE RODGERS CAN'T LOST TWO YEARS IN A ROW BRACKET
(1) AARON RODGERS vs. (16) JOE HADEN
Last year, I thought there was no way Rodgers would lose to Hillis. This year, can Haden pull off a similar upset? I doubt it, especially since Browns fans already felt the sting of the curse for one season. Why would you vote your team to the bottom two years in a row?
(8) MARSHAWN LYNCH vs. (9) CHRIS JOHNSON
If Lynch wins, can "Madden 13" ship with a bag of Skittles in every box? If so, I'm voting "Beastmode" all the way.
(5) RAY RICE vs. (12) A.J. GREEN
Rice already won the "NFL Blitz" cover vote earlier this year, so if Rice wins the "Madden 13" cover, he will be the first player to appear on the cover of two EA Sports games in the same year. Then again, Rice told me recently that he has started to believe in the "Madden" curse: "I might have to become a believer now in the 'Madden' Curse after I've seen what happened this year [with Peyton Hillis]," said Rice. "I never used to believe, but now I don't know what to think."
(4) DREW BREES vs. (13) MATT RYAN
Brees hopes to be the first player to appear on the "Madden" cover two separate years. But to accomplish that, he'll have to first take down Matty Ice, a former "NCAA" cover athlete, not to mention his NFC South rival. If I were a betting man, I'd put everything I had down on Brees.
(6) CALVIN JOHNSON vs. (11) DWAYNE BOWE
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesPlays like this help make Megatron a favorite to win it all.How cool would the "Madden" cover be if it was Johnson as Megatron on the front of the box? I'm thinking Johnson has a good shot at winning the whole tournament.
(3) ARIAN FOSTER vs. (14) TIM TEBOW
Last year, when Tebow was in the cover tournament, people wondered if we'd see the first backup QB on the cover of the game. This year, depending on what shakes out in Denver, we could once again see the first backup QB on the cover of the game. I never would've thought that after the Broncos beat Pittsburgh in the playoffs. Too bad EA couldn't quickly sign Peyton Manning and add him to the tournament at the last second like a mystery opponent in WWE. Whatcha gonna do, when Tebowmania runs wild on you?!
(7) JARED ALLEN vs. (10) DEMARCUS WARE
The battle of the sack masters. A few years back, when Allen was in the initial "Madden" cover vote, he appealed to those with mullets, saying if everyone with a mullet would go out and vote for him, he would win. It didn't work back then, but maybe these days there are more mullets on the Internet. If so, look for Allen to move on to the next round.
(2) ROB GRONKOWSKI vs. (15) BRANDON LLOYD
David Butler II/US PresswireAir Gronk for the score.With Lloyd leaving the Rams via free agency and signing with the Patriots, we actually have two Patriots in the final 32 (and no Rams!). These two have both been actively campaigning for the cover, each releasing a pretty cool video to show why they should be cursed/paid by EA. (Check them out here: Lloyd, Gronk). If Gronk wins, will he go shirtless to the photo shoot?
What are you waiting for? Head to the SportsNation "Madden" cover vote site and let your voice be heard.
March, 15, 2012
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)Cam Newton's fans have come out in full force so far for the "Madden 13" cover vote.Looks like the "Madden NFL 13" cover vote could be Cam Newton's to lose.
That's because with only a week left in the teammate versus teammate play-in round, Newton has already received more votes than any other player in the competition.
But Cam's ability to crush the vote isn't the only storyline being played out right now, as there are already a few surprises (and a few upsets) that might shock some of the higher-profile names in the vote.
First off, "Madden" legend (and last year's cover vote runner-up) Michael Vick, is in serious danger of getting bounced out early by teammate LeSean McCoy.
Another surprise is how close the Tim Tebow versus Von Miller vote has become. Not sure if it's the possibility of Peyton Manning coming to Denver and Tebow becoming a backup or getting traded, but Miller is right within striking distance for the upset.
Add to that the fact that Brandon Marshall and Brandon Lloyd are both leading their team's vote even though neither one is currently on the team they are representing, and we could see both the Dolphins and Rams without representation when the vote narrows down from 64 to 32.
One other player to keep an eye on is Victor Cruz of the Giants. Cruz is killing it right now in the vote, and his massive swell of support could mean big things (and a curse) in Cruz's future if he wins the cover.
Don't like the results so far? Cast your vote now and let your voice be heard.
March, 7, 2012
US PresswireCam Newton, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees are three of the favorites to win the "Madden 13" cover vote.Who will be on the cover of "Madden NFL 13"?
The choice is yours as once again, EA Sports and ESPN have teamed up to deliver the "Madden" cover vote. Last year, nearly 13 million votes were cast, and to everyone's surprise, Peyton Hillis took down superstars like Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick to end up on the cover (and possibly cursed for the rest of his life).
And with the field expanded to 64 players (from 32 last year), expect even more surprises as we have everyone from Tim Tebow to Shane Lechler vying for that coveted cover spot.
So what are you waiting for? Head to the official SportsNation Facebook page, and cast your vote today.
And remember, feel free to vote for your favorite player, or least favorite player, depending on how you feel about the "Madden" Curse.
March, 1, 2012
Chris McGrath/Getty ImagesIf Darrelle Revis has his way, not only will he cover "Madden 13," but the game will enhance virtual cornerbacks.I interviewed Darrelle Revis a few years back, and one of the things he really wanted to see implemented in "Madden" was improved cornerback play.
"They need to add more jamming at the line," the shutdown corner told me. "I want to see the off-hand jam, the two-hand jam, and more interaction between the receiver and the corner. I know it's a video game, but the way some of the interaction looks right now is a bit stiff. You want to make it as true to life as possible, and all of these things make a big difference when it comes to how the routes are run. I just want to see them make more of a difference in the game by making it easier for people to perform."
And with Revis making the 64-player cut in the "Madden 13" cover vote, I'm thinking, no better time than the present to really upgrade the cornerback play in the game while featuring Revis Island on the box.
Then again, Revis will have to get enough votes first, and that's up to the fans.
Here's how the AFC East play-in round of the "Madden 13" cover vote looks:
Out of all these players, I actually think Gronkowski has the best chance of ultimately ending up on the box. Just think, it could be the first "Madden" cover where the player isn't wearing a shirt.
Voting begins March 7. For more information, check out the official SportsNation cover vote site.