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With the revealing of the 2021 Madden Cover now upon us, I'll take a quick look back at the full list of players who have graced this lauded front page, what it's meant for that player and his respective team in the season immediately to follow, how the cover has been dished out positionally, by conference, etc.., and pre or post cover contract implications as well.
SEASON COVER PLAYER(S) TEAM FOLLOWING RECORD
2000 Eddie George Titans 13-3 (1st)
2001 Daunte Culpepper Vikings 5-11 (4th)
2002 Marshall Faulk Rams 7-9 (2nd)
2003 Michael Vick Falcons 5-11 (4th)
2004 Ray Lewis Ravens 9-7 (2nd)
2005 Donovan McNabb Eagles 6-10 (4th)
2006 Shaun Alexander Seahawks 9-7 (1st)
2007 Vince Young Titans 10-6 (3rd)
2008 Brett Favre Jets 9-7 (3rd)
2009 Troy Polamalu Steelers 9-7 (3rd)
  Larry Fitzgerald Cardinals 10-6 (1st)
2010 Drew Brees Saints 11-5 (2nd)
2011 Peyton Hillis Browns 4-12 (4th)
2012 Calvin Johnson Lions 4-12 (4th)
2013 Barry Sanders Lions 7-9 (3rd)
2014 Richard Sherman Seahawks 12-4 (1st)
2015 Odell Beckham Jr. Giants 6-10 (3rd)
2016 Rob Gronkowski Patriots 14-2 (1st)
2017 Tom Brady Patriots 13-3 (1st)
2018 Antonio Brown Steelers 9-6-1 (2nd)
2019 Patrick Mahomes Chiefs 12-4 (1st)
2020 Lamar Jackson Ravens 11-5 (2nd)
2021 Tom Brady Buccaneers  
  Patrick Mahomes Chiefs  

Positionally Speaking

Tom Brady & Patrick Mahomes become the 23 & 24th players to grace the cover of the Madden video game (Founder John Madden held the cover poses from 1988-1999). Since 2000, 11 of the cover players have been Quarterbacks (unsurprisingly), 5 have been Running Backs (somewhat surprisingly), 4 Wide Receivers, and 1 each of TE, CB, S, & LB. 21 offensive players, 3 defenders. 13 of the players came from NFC teams, while 11 hit the cover as an AFC representative.

 

Divison Standings Metrics

7 out of 22 teams have won their division in the same year that one of their respective players was revealed as the Madden Cover. 5 of the 22 finished last in their division, while a total of 9 finished with at least 10 victories. 14 of the 22 teams held +.500 record, meaning there's a 63% chance that the Madden Cover team(s) will win more games than not in the upcoming season. NOTE: While it's somewhat unfair to include the 2013 Lions in here when Barry Sanders graced the cover, let's just say the extra team publicity didn't exactly spur Detroit to do great things.

 

Cover Player Availability & Success

2000, Eddie George, RB, TEN: played all 16 games, led the league in rushes, scored 16 TDs with over 1900 yards from scrimmage.

2001, Daunte Culpepper, QB, MIN: played 11 games (knee injury), throwing for just 14 TDs vs. 11 INTs.

2002, Marshall Faulk, RB, STL: started 10 games (ankle/foot injuries), garnering 1,490 yards from scrimmage, a 6 year low.

2003, Michael Vick, QB, ATL: started 4 games (preseason fibula fracture)

2004, Ray Lewis, LB, BAL: started 15 games, combined for 147 tackles, 2 fumble recoveries, and a sack

2005, Donovan McNabb, QB, PHI: started 9 games (groin injury) throwing 16 TDs vs. 9 INTs.

2006, Shaun Alexander, RB, SEA: started 10 games (broken foot), totalling 944 yards from scrimmage.

2007, Vince Young, QB, TEN: started 15 games, throwing for a career high 2,546 yards, but just 9 TDs vs. 17 INTs.

2008, Brett Favre, QB, NYJ: started all 16 games, throwing for a league leading 22 INTs.

2009, Troy Polamalu, S, PIT: started 5 games (MCL injury), posting career lows in every category

2009, Larry Fitzgerald, WR, ARZ: started all 16 games, leading the league with 13 TD receptions

2010, Drew Brees, QB, NO: started all 16 games, leading the league in Comp % (68.1), while also posting a career high 22 INTs.

2011, Peyton Hillis, RB, CLE: started 9 games (illness, hamstrings), posting 3 TDs & 717 yards from scrimmage. He had just 3 more career starts.

2012, Calvin Johnson, WR, DET: started all 16 games, leading the league in receptions (122), receiving yards (1,964) & yards per game (122.8).

2013, Barry Sanders, RB, DET: 25 year celebration edition

2014, Richard Sherman, CB, SEA: started all 16 games, posting 4 INTs, and 57 combined tackles.

2015, Odell Beckham Jr., WR, NYG: started 15 games, posting 96 catches, a career highs of 1,450 receiving yards & 13 TDs.

2016, Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE: started 6 games (hamstring, back injuries) limiting his production to near career lows across the board

2017, Tom Brady, QB, NE: started all 16 games, leading the league in attempts (581), Pass Yards (4,577), & Yards/Game (286)

2018, Antonio Brown, WR, PIT: started 15 games, snagging 104 catches, and a league leading 15 TDs.

2019, Patrick Mahomes, QB, KC: started 14 games (kneecap injury), limiting his overall production, but still posted 26 TDs vs. 5 INTs.

2020, Lamar Jackson, QB, BAL: started 15 games, combining for 3700+ total yards, 26 Pass TDs vs 9 INTs.

 

Super Bowl Success

Only two teams have had a player grace the cover of that season's Madden, then turn around and win the Super Bowl: The 2016-17 Patriots (Rob Gronkowski) & the 2019-20 Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes). The 2018-19 Patriots are also the only team to win a Super Bowl 1 year AFTER their player was on the Madden cover (Tom Brady).

 

Contract Implications

Eddie George added a 7 year, $41M extension to his Madden Cover offseason in Tennessee.

Marshall Faulk signed a 7 year, $44M extension weeks before he hit the 2002 cover

Shaun Alexander signed an historic 8 year $62M extension with Seattle just before his 2006 cover unveiling.

Brett Favre retired/was traded from the Packers to the Jets when his 2008 Madden Cover was revealed. It didn't go well.

Peyton Hillis was in the final year of his Browns' rookie contract when he hit the 2011 cover. He left for free agency a year later.

Calvin Johnson locked down a 7 year, $113M extension with the Lions a few weeks before his 2012 cover was revealed.

Richard Sherman signed a 4 year, $56M extension with Seattle just weeks before he was named the 2014 cover.

Odell Beckham Jr. was only in the 2nd year of his rookie contract when the Madden crew made him a cover player.

Antonio Brown's Steelers' career came to a memorable end immediately following his 2018 cover year.

Patrick Mahomes followed up his Super Bowl winning cover season with a 10 year, $450M extension.

Tom Brady signed a 1 year, $25M extension a few weeks before he was revealed as the 2021 co-cover (Mahomes).

 

NFL Madden Cover