The Madden 20 cover vote is unlike anything else in sports gaming. While fans are largely content to accept whomever they’re given for series such as FIFA, NHL and NBA 2K, fronting the official game of the NFL is a different story. With the Madden curse (opens in new tab) reversed, being selected to grace the box is now the biggest one-up possible in the race for pre-season bragging rights,
Last year, Antonio Brown – then of the Pittsburgh Steelers, now the Oakland Raiders – scored the Madden 19 (opens in new tab) honour. This year the Madden 20 cover vote winner is Patrick Mahomes – but he wasn't the only one in contention. Below we profile the rivals who ran him close to cover-athlete glory.
10. Julian Edelman (New England Patriots)
Their Super Bowl 53 win made Patriots players prime candidates for this year’s cover, and while a more prominent New England favourite amounted to a stronger bet, Edelman couldn't be discounted. His 10-catch, 141-yard performance in the season finale earned MVP honours and he’ll again be at the forefront of the Pats’ 2019 play-offs charge in the upcoming campaign.
9. Ezekiel Elliott (Dallas Cowboys)
Antonio Brown fronting Madden 19 made it unlikely that EA would select a receiver two years in a row, so with Edelman ticked off, the rest of this feature focuses on other positions. With running back an obvious starting point: it’s half a decade since the box went to a player in that role. Cowboys’ star Elliott would have been a formidable choice to end the barren run, ahead of his fourth NFL season.
8. Matthew Stafford (Detroit Lions)
The Detroit Lions boast more Madden covers than any other team: Barry Sanders has fronted the NFL’s official game twice (Maddens 2000 and 25), with Calvin Johnson on the box for Madden 13. That put them in contention here despite a 6-10 previous campaign, although Stafford was the only realistic contender from Matt Patricia’s team.
7. Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
Four years, $140 million. One hundred and forty million dollars. Seattle signal-caller Wilson just signed the richest contract in NFL history, and EA was quick to congratulate him on Twitter – whereas it usually stays out of news regarding finances. Some took that as a hint of Wilson partnering up with EA after seven years as the Seahawks’ talisman.
6. Khalil Mack (Chicago Bears)
Running backs aren’t the only ones who’ve been kept off the Madden cover for some time: the last defensive player given the honor was then-Seahawk Richard Sherman, ahead of Madden 15. If that precedent were to change then Bears DE Mack seemed the likeliest choice: he had a monster 2018 campaign, and incredibly Chicago has never housed a Madden cover star.
5. Tom Brady (New England Patriots)
The second New England Patriot to make this list, on the back of securing an astonishing sixth Super Bowl ring. Entering his age-42 season Brady shows no sign of being tempted by retirement, and his ageless performances in Foxborough will keep him in the mix for Madden covers until he does finally hang them up. Sometime around 2033.
4. Todd Gurley (Los Angeles Rams)
Last year we rated Gurley as the second most likely Madden cover athlete: here he dropped two places, but still fared better than our 2019 number one pick Jay Ajayi. (Yeah. About that…) Gurley remained a hot contender, but a tame end to the 2018 season dented his chances. He’d have been the first Ram on the box since Marshall Faulk fronted Madden 2003.
3. Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns)
The chase to front the NFL’s official game hasn’t worked out well for Cleveland. Browns running back Peyton Hillis was the shock cover star of Madden 12, and out of the league within three seasons before he’d even turned 30. Yet that didn't put fans off backing Mayfield’s chances for the new game. The young QB topped a cleveland.com Madden 20 cover poll with 40.87% of the vote.
2. Saquon Barkley (New York Giants)
Alongside Mayfield, particularly notable in that aforementioned Cleveland cover vote was the player who placed second: not a hometown Brown, but New York running back Saquon Barkley. An impressive 17% of the vote count proves that he’s become popular across the league thanks to a 2018 season that encompassed 1307 yards and 15 all-purpose touchdowns. But one man stood in his way:
1. Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
Despite elite competition from Mayfield and Barkley, Mahomes always felt like the standout choice in the Madden 20 cover vote. His incredible sophomore season, guiding the Chiefs to the NFC Championship game via a staggering 50 touchdown passes, made him beloved by all NFL fans outside of LA, Oakland or Denver.
He’s a near-perfect videogame QB too – Olympian speed and Exocet accuracy making the Texas Tech graduate a throwback to Michael Vick’s cheat-character days. We’d have been shocked had anyone other than Mahomes fronted Madden 20. No, this is not a good time to bring up Jay Ajayi…
Madden 20 is expected to be released in August. Wondering what else the game has in store? Check out 11 changes Madden 20 needs to make according to fans (opens in new tab).