Although we're still a couple months away from the official release of Madden NFL 24, EA Sports teased Monday that, on Wednesday, June 7, it will reveal who will grace this year's cover.
Last year, EA decided to honor the late John Madden, the Pro Football Hall of Fame head coach and beloved color commentator, by returning him to the center of his namesake game for the first time since 1999.
Who's next to be featured on the iconic cover? Here are five players I think would be deserving:
Surely it can't be Patrick Mahomes again, right?! The reigning AP Most Valuable Player has been chosen twice in the last four years. EA Sports should instead consider turning to Hurts, the quarterback who finished second to Mahomes in both Super Bowl LVII and MVP voting and has the talent to go toe-to-toe with Mahomes for years to come. Not only did Hurts throw for 3,701 yards and 22 touchdowns against just six interceptions last season, but he also rushed for 760 yards and 13 touchdowns. He made a compelling case to become the face of this year's game by putting up the video game-like numbers Madden players strive for.
The Vikings star would be the fifth wide receiver to score a cover and the first non-QB since Antonio Brown was on Madden NFL 19. Jefferson holds the record for most receiving yards through a player's first three seasons (4,825) by a whopping 662 yards over Hall of Famer Randy Moss. He's the reigning Offensive Player of the Year after becoming the youngest player in NFL history (23 years old) to lead the league in receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809) in a season. Throw in Jefferson's cultural significance (his Griddy celebration appeared all over social media and in other video games like Fortnite), and you have yourself a can't-miss candidate.
After notching his seventh straight 1,000-yard receiving season, Travis passed Rob Gronkowski for second-most postseason TD receptions (16) all-time during last year's Super Bowl run. It'd be kismet for him to succeed Gronk as only the second tight end to receive the Madden nod. He has the boisterous personality the game deserves, something he made evident with his recent Saturday Night Live hosting gig.
Bonus idea: Make it twice as nice by including Eagles All-Pro center Jason Kelce, who just happens to be Travis' older brother. They shared the game's biggest stage in February, as well as the one at SNL's 30 Rockerfeller Plaza in March (Jason made a cameo). Why not share a cover, too? Officially declare 2023 the year of the Kelces.
The challenge of being the last pick in each year's draft is making the team come September. It's a hurdle that could render this idea unfeasible. But maybe we should give each year's "Mr. Irrelevant" more credit for accomplishing an NFL dream rather than slapping that label on them for life. Perhaps we should be slapping their image onto a Madden cover each year. It could start with rookie defensive lineman Desjuan Johnson, the 2023 NFL Draft's No. 259 overall pick by the Los Angeles Rams and a three-time All-MAC selection (second-team in 2020 and '21, first-team in '22) at Toledo. Years past would've seen Brock Purdy (had John Madden not been featured) on Madden NFL 23 or kicker Ryan Succop on Madden NFL 10. This is revenge for the select few who can say, "I went last in the NFL draft, and all I got was this Mr. Irrelevant jersey."
"Time is a circle" pick
When the Packers traded Brett Favre to the Jets in the summer of 2008, a mere five days before the release of Madden NFL 09, EA Sports had already issued millions of copies featuring the legendary gunslinger in a Green Bay jersey. The company had to scramble to provide a downloadable cover with Favre wearing his new threads. There wouldn't be that level of chaos now, but the Packers and Jets have already done all the leg work for déjà vu overload. Such a decision wouldn't be without merit, either. Rodgers is still only a season removed from winning a second consecutive MVP award and his fourth overall. Plus, until a full feature list comes out, there remains a non-zero chance that the newest "Face of the Franchise" mode now includes offseason darkness retreats.