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The Best Madden NFL Cover Athletes

Updated June 16, 2020 3.9k votes 634 voters 350.9k views21 items

List RulesVote for your favorite Madden NFL cover athletes.

Each year since 1999, the Madden NFL video game has selected one notable National Football League player to grace the cover of the game. These Madden NFL cover athletes were each selected for the honor for one reason or another, such as being the best in the league at their position, winning the Super Bowl or doing something really awesome.

The popular football video game was first released in 1988 and initially featured Pro Football Hall of Fame former player turned broadcaster John Madden on the cover. In 1999, Electronic Arts started the trend of selecting one NFL player to appear on the cover, thus starting the Madden NFL cover athlete tradition. Garrison Hearst was the first to take the cover from Madden, appearing on the video game in 1999. 

Just like NCAA Football cover athletes, the football players who have appeared on Madden NFL received a great honor that will be remembered for years to come. Vote up the best Madden NFL covers below.

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  • Drew Brees
    Photo: EA Sports

    Bringing joy to an area devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl in 2010. As one bonus for the accomplishment, Brees was named the cover athlete for Madden NFL 2011.

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  • Ray Lewis
    Photo: EA Sports

    Fierce linebacker Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens was honored with the Madden NFL 2005 selection as one of the best at his position in the history of the game. Among other awards, Lewis helped the Ravens win Super Bowl XXXV and became only the second linebacker to be selected as the Super Bowl MVP.

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  • Larry Fitzgerald
    Photo: EA Sports

    Alongside Troy Polamalu, Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was the second player on the Madden NFL 2010 cover

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  • Adrian Peterson/Barry Sanders
    Photo: EA Sports

    For Madden 25, EA Sports polled fans as to who should be on the cover. Legendary Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders defeated Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson to win the spot.

    Ultimately EA Sports split the honor, leaving Sanders as the cover athlete for the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game, while going with Peterson for the next generation consoles, XBox One and PlayStation 4.

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