By Barry Janoff
May 9, 2014: Jadeveon Clowney and Johnny Manziel may be garnering most of the attention during the NFL draft, but a crop of other young players is getting attention from another football franchise.
Richard Sherman, Colin Kaepernic, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck are among 16 players now vying to have their image on the cover of Madden NFL 15.
EA Sports unveiled its plans to select a cover athlete for this year's installment in their football franchise, with much help from the public-at-large. This will be the fourth time that EA has had fans and consumers vote for the cover image (details here).
Last year, EA Sports pitted 32 legends against 32 current players in a head-to-head vote-off. The list for this year's video game cover is 16 current players, who have been rated in two groups and seeded 1-8.
As in the playoffs themselves, in the opening round here No. 1 takes on No. 8, No. 2 takes on No. 7 and so on, in two divisions.
The list includes No. 1 seeds Sherman (CB, Seattle Seahawks) and Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers); No. 2 seeded Kaepernick (QB, San Francisco 49ers) and Luck (QB, Indianapolis Colts); and No. 3 seeded Demaryius Thomas (WR, Denver Broncos) and LeSean McCoy (RB, Philadelphia Eagles).
According to EA, people can vote once per day at ESPN.com/maddenvote. The results of each round of voting will be unveiled every Thursday, during ESPN's NFL Live (4 PM).
The winner will be unveiled live during SportsCenter on June 6 (6 PM ET) from LA LIVE Plaza. The two finalists will appear and participate.
Initial marketing includes a spot featuring Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers (see the spot here).
“We are building on our momentum over the last three Madden NFL Cover Votes to deliver an engaging experience that puts the cover in the hands of the fans, which have resulted in some of ESPN’s most successful social activations to date," Raphael Poplock, vp-games and partnerships for ESPN, said in a statement.
In addition to the dedicated micro-Web site, EA has created destinations at such social platforms as Twitter @ESPNNFL and the NFL on ESPN Facebook page via the hashtag #MaddenCover.
Last year's Madden NFL 25 honored the silver anniversary of the game. Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders won the fan vote and appeared on the XBox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of the game. Adrian Peterson, all-pro running back for the Minnesota Vikings, came in second and appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 25 for next-generation videogame consoles Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
EA Sports was named one of the Top Ten "Marketers of the Year" by NYSportsJournalism for its campaign to support Madden NFL 25.
“The Madden NFL Cover Vote is always a special time of year,” Randy Chase, EA's senior director of North American marketing, said in a statement. “I’m curious to see if the 12th Man can propel Richard Sherman to the cover, or if the 49ers fans get their revenge and knock him out of the competition. No matter what, there are going to be some great match-ups and intense rivalries.”
All player participation has been facilitated by NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Assn.
Voting for Round 1 runs now through May 15. Round 2 runs May 15-22. Round Three runs May 22-29. The Final Round goes from May 29-June 5.
EA Sports Madden NFL 15 Cover Vote:
(1) Richard Sherman (CB, Seattle Seahawks) Vs.
(8) Alshon Jeffery (WR, Chicago Bears)
(1) Cam Newton (QB, Carolina Panthers) Vs.
(8) Antonio Brown (WR, Pittsburgh Steelers)
(2) Colin Kaepernick (QB, San Francisco 49ers) Vs.
(7) Nick Foles (QB, Philadelphia Eagles)
(2) Andrew Luck (QB, Indianapolis Colts) Vs.
(7) Alfred Morris (RB, Washington Redskins)
(3) Demaryius Thomas (WR, Denver Broncos) Vs.
(6) Luke Kuechly (LB, Carolina Panthers)
(3) LeSean McCoy (RB, Philadelphia Eagles) Vs.
(6) T.Y. Hilton (WR, Indianapolis Colts)
(4) Jimmy Graham (TE, New Orleans Saints) Vs.
(5) Eddie Lacy (RB, Green Bay Packers)
(4) Jamaal Charles (RB, Kansas City Chiefs) Vs.
(5) A.J. Green (WR, Cincinnati Bengals)