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By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
Minneapolis, MN - For the last twenty-five years, the John Madden football video game franchise has been traveling the course of time hand-in-hand with the National Football League. When players are drafted and enter the league, they enter the game. When new stadiums are developed across the country, they are digitally remastered in the game. When rule changes are implemented, the adjustments are accounted for in the game. Because, as we all know by now, "If it's in the game, it's in the game!"
So as the Madden franchise prepares to celebrate it's Silver Anniversary, the marketing geniuses over at Electronic Arts have teamed up with Sportsnation to let the fans vote on which player (or players) will grace the cover of Madden 25, which is set to be released later this summer. For a little over a month now, a bracket styled tournament has been running with one side pairing up "new school" players against each other and the other side drumming up some of the greatest names in NFL history representing the "old school" bracket.
Names like Dan Marino, Arian Foster, Joe Montana and Deion Sanders have already been knocked out of the tournament and as we stand today, only two remain including Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson representing the current stars. Last week in Portland, Oregon, I had the opportunity to catch up with Adrian Peterson (listen to interview here) and asked him about the fan vote contest for the cover of Madden 25.
"I haven't really been paying attention to it yet," Peterson admitted. "But you always think about those things [growing up]. The Madden cover, the Wheaties box...it's something that I definitely grew up and was like, 'hey, I want to be on the cover of that one day.' So if it takes place and I win, it will be a privilege."
While there is an obvious honor that comes with gracing the cover of the most popular (and only official NFL licensed) football video game, there is also a fair amount of pressure and even the lore of a curse that also comes with finding your photo pasted to the front of the Madden video game.
For many of the early years the cover of Madden Football featured a photo of the jovial broadcaster himself, John Madden. It wasn't until the game's 1999 edition that the cover featured a NFL player's photo. Subsequently, 1999 was the same year that the "Madden Cover Curse" was born.
The curse began in 1999, when running back Garrison Hearst (49ers) was featured on the cover and broke his ankle that same season. Hearst was sidelined for two straight seasons. Then in 2000, Barry Sanders graced the cover and abruptly retired following that season falling short of records many were sure he would have eventually surpassed. Some of the other notable instances include Michael Vick (2004, broken fibula), Donovan McNabb (2006, torn ACL) and Peyton Hillis (2012, hamstring/strep throat).
"There's a lot of Vikings fans that don't want me on the cover," Peterson chimed in on the curse. "I don't believe in any type of Madden curse or anything like that."
Peterson's feelings against the legitimacy of the superstition may have been validated late season when Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson was chosen for the cover. Johnson went on to catch 122 balls for 1,964 yards enough to break Jerry Rice's single season receiving record. Could Adrian then make the cover and follow suit with another 2,000 yard rushing season?
There is still one hurdle standing between Adrian and the cover of Madden 25. A formidable opponent that you may have heard about around the water cooler. The finals in this year's vote will pin Adrian Peterson up against former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders.
Growing up as a running back during the 90s, Peterson looked up to Sanders and modeled parts of his game after him. Now, to be paired up against him for the cover of Madden 25, Peterson says it's a dream come true.
"One of a kind," Peterson said of Sanders. "Anyone that knows any type of history knows that he's arguably the best back to ever play. Just to be mentioned in the same sentence as him is an honor. He's a guy that I looked up to growing up and a guy that that inspired me to be better than him because he was so awesome...No one will ever do it like he did it, being so elusive. He definitely has set the bar high for young guys like me to have something to reach for."
The vote for the finals began today and will run through April 24th when the champion will be crowned.