By Gabriel Foster: Twitter @gurugub
Every year, it feels like we are let down by EA Sports. In reality, the game may very well just be copied and pasted into a different file each and every year, but how would we ever know? Although the game may never change in a dramatic fashion, users can always look forward to a new, annual cover athlete.
Up until recently, when Madden ’20 cover athlete Patrick Mahomes wound up leading his team to a Super Bowl win, there has been controversy over a potential “Madden curse”. There have been multiple accounts of players that have been chosen to represent the NFL as a whole, but then have had oddly, unlucky campaigns the following season.
One of the first signs of disaster regarding Madden cover athletes came with quarterback, Michael Vick. Being named cover athlete in 2004, Vick went on to suffer a fractured fibula in the preseason, leaving him sidelined for a good portion of the season. Vick, when he finally recovered, did not impress. This led to an overall concern for players, leading them to think if posing for a video game cover was all what it made out to be.
With more and more success coming from previously selected cover athletes, the conspiracy has started to die down. Lots of factors can contribute to a player’s overall success during the course of a season and can’t all be blamed on Madden, sadly. Each individual that has had the overwhelming opportunity to show their likeness in front of a widely-used game, has had to have felt a different type of excitement and is undoubtedly a reward in itself.
With that in mind, there have been many players that have certainly made a name for themselves. Will it be good enough for making a cover out of themselves too? Here are my top 5 Madden ’22 cover candidates!
You may be sitting there thinking, are they crazy? Alex Smith as Madden’s next cover athlete? This decision would mean much more than statistics and popularity. What this pick would demonstrate is courageousness, determinedness, and lastly, it would tell us about one of the most inspiring comeback stories the sports world has ever seen.
Alex Smith, former 49er and Chief, suffered a gruesome leg injury on November 18, 2018. The Chiefs were up against the Houston Texans when he suffered a fracture in his leg, causing him to be carted off and immediately rushed to a nearby hospital. As time went on, doctors realized that it was not just his leg that they had to worry about, but his life was in severe danger.
They found out that Smith had an infection on top of a fracture in his leg, and this put his life at risk as it has now turned into something far more than just a football injury. After multiple sleepless nights, Smith and his family were optimistic about Alex and his health.
The road to recovery began as Smith had to slowly get back into things after suffering such an injury. With a guy like Smith, taking the game he loves from him is heartbreaking and it takes time to come to a realization that he may never end up playing again in the NFL.
Though, after around two years since the injury, Smith made his return with the Washington Football Team on October 11, 2020. What was very scary and emotional for Smith and his family was that he was on the same field where the horrific injury occurred. Smith went on to complete 9 passes for 37 yards.
Smith helped contribute to the Football Team’s success and earned them a playoff spot. Unfortunately, Smith was held out of the Wild Card matchup against the Buccaneers, but what a story to be told.
This year’s Madden cover has the chance to be very emotional and within a simple graphic, it can represent thousands of words, it can tell a story. From an almost life-threatening injury to once again stepping on a field, that kids all over dream of playing on, it would mean something else. Smith’s remarkable journey speaks volumes and can be a story that can be passed on for generations upon generations. What a perfect scenario…
Rob Gronkowski. Madden 17. Never say never, tight ends matter too. I mean let’s be fair, he is a WIDE RECEIVER. Travis Kelce is Gronkowski times five and has pulled away even further as the best tight end in the NFL. While the Chiefs tight end has always put up numbers, these numbers have stayed consistent for an awfully long time. There is no more ignoring the fact. Kelce is a difference-maker, and the Chiefs would be in a world of trouble without him.
Kelce has exposed multiple linebackers and corners in his career, leaving teams without an answer for the 6’5”, 250-pound monster. Teams may very well need to start exploring triple coverage, it may be worth it. Kelce has all the tools, size, physicality, route-running ability, the list goes on. This guy is a dog!
Teams everywhere would sacrifice so much for a guy like Kelce. Mahomes has had himself a duo in Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Kelce makes this Chiefs offense what it is and produces at an extremely high level. The electrifying tight end will look to add another championship to his belt on top of being the best of the best at his position.
Kelce hauled in 105 receptions for 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns this season.
Will EA let two Chiefs players get the cover in back to back years? Although the two are arguably the best duo in the league, they may not appreciate the same team stealing the show. Nevertheless, numbers don’t lie. Travis Kelce could be a sleeper for Madden’s next cover athlete, as you may never know who they will pick and for what reasons.
It’s always nice to start out your list with a player of this caliber. Davante Adams is a living definition of a cheat code and every opposing corner could probably support this claim. Labeled as a certified route technician while adding unexplainably crazy hands, should help add to Adams’ already freakish resume, as being the best wide receiver in the league.
If the overall decision comes down to who impacted the game most over the course of the season, Adams should already become a serious candidate. Adams, who missed a few games due to injury, put up an astonishing 115 catches, 1,374 yards for 18 touchdowns this season. With a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers firing you footballs, it never was a doubt in anyone’s mind.
Breaking records will be a familiar thing for Adams as his career steamrolls forward. This decision could come down to a number of things, including who pulls away with the Lombardi trophy, who snags the MVP spot, and multiple other awards. As the Packers look to march their way to a Super Bowl, Adams will play a key role in carving up opposing defenses along the way.
We have not seen a cheese-head on the cover since Brett Favre in 2009, so it may be time to introduce a more than deserving, Packer again. I wonder if they could fit a picture of every single touchdown he caught this season onto the front? They may not all fit…
All hail the king. That’s King Henry, of course. You know, this could be the most phenomenal cover I think the world would ever see. It’s all planned out. Henry with a cape and crown on standing in the middle, with snippets of every single one of his bullying victims. Josh Norman could finally find his way onto a Madden cover! On the ground!
Henry rushed for a league leading 2,027 yards with 17 touchdowns this season.
Henry has singlehandedly dominated the league with his intimidating build and his ability to embarrass anyone that dares to try and tackle him. Unfortunately, the Titans lost their Wild Card matchup Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens, with Henry only rushing for 40 yards on 18 attempts. Despite such an abnormal performance, the stats show that Henry is upon the most ferocious in the league and deserves all the talk, following a fantastic season.
Something about that crown on Henry looks so appealing to the eye. Who will take it from him? Sure, there are lots of talented backs in the league, but who can live up to Henry? Physicality and grittiness sum up the Titans running back, helping him become the tough back he is today. Henry literally looks like he eats the whole chicken, bones and all.
Once again, despite a Titans first-round oust, the leading rusher in the NFL automatically becomes a top-three option for EA. Henry would be a perfect fit for the cover and would be the first running back since Madden 25. All in all, if Henry doesn’t get the final vote, he at least deserves 99 trucking, period.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen has surely given fans more reasons to break tables this season and it is not out of frustration. The Bills fanbase is famously known for being the alpha of team fanbases across the country and they do not hold anything back. Videos from previous tailgates emerged, showing fans jumping off different heights and absolutely destroying tables as a form of celebrating and getting hyped.
Who could blame such a person for it with a team like this? Now just imagine what would happen if they brought home the hardware! Led by quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills have far exceeded expectations, coming into the playoffs at an imposing 13-3. Allen has had help from Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, John Brown, and others to help him secure a spot in the MVP discussion.
With a recent win over the Indianapolis Colts in the wildcard game, the Bills look to stay hungry and attack anyone in their way with a forceful blow. With such a high-powered offense, the likeliness of the Bills defeating the Chiefs to get to the Super Bowl, become greater. Allen has destroyed opposing defenses all year and has turned heads, as they come into the playoffs as a significant threat.
Allen threw for 4,544 yards for 37 touchdowns and had the third highest QBR this season.
In terms of Madden, Allen has gotten his fair share of disrespect ratings-wise, but he has forced them to put some hard earned respect on his name. Teetering around the low 80’s rating mark to the potential cover athlete? I mean, when’s the last time you’ve seen a Bill on the cover of Madden? Surely, they’d have to give him a shot, right? Please Allen, bring home a championship.