By Barry Janoff
August 24, 2013: What would you do for a free advance copy of Madden NFL 25, the 25th anniversary edition of the iconic video game that hits retail Aug. 27?
A group of people ran a 40-yard dash. Others just sat at home and drank Pepsi Max. Barry Sanders got a shave and a haircut.
EA Sports sent NFL Hall of Fame running back Sanders — who also happens to be the Madden NFL 25 cover athlete – to Orlando recently to find out to what lengths people would go, and filmed the action for all to see. EA Tiburon, which develops Madden NFL and other titles, is headquartered just north of the city.
EA Sports and Sanders set up shop at the track and field facility in Showalter Field in Winter Park on Aug. 17 and played host to a bevy of fans, who had responded to shout-outs via social media.
Under the banner, "100 copies of Madden. 40 yards. 1 chance," fans competed in a 40-yard dash in all age groups. In the video, youngsters and adults alike are shown being handed a copy of Madden NFL 25 at they cross the 40-yard finish line.
Not everyone had a smooth result. One guy stumbled and managed to fall across the finish line; another appeared to pull a hamstring. (See the full video here.)
Sanders also touted the release of Madden NFL 25 via a new TV spot from Pepsi Max, one of the game's marketing partners.
In the Pepsi Max ad, "Disappearing Sanders," Sanders is getting a shave and a haircut at a local barber shop. The two guys attending him are talking about his great NFL career when one asks a question that has become part of Sanders' legend: Why did he retire from the Detroit Lions when he did, with several good years left to go in his career?
"You ran for 99 touchdowns, and then you just disappeared from the game," one of them says. "Why?"
When he retired after the 1998 season at the age of 30, his career total of 15,269 less than 1,500 yards away from what then was the NFL's all-time rushing mark held by Walter Payton (16,726 yards), since surpassed by Emmitt Smith (18,355).
Sanders has rarely talked about that, but now appears to be willing to share the reason.
"Well. guys," says Sanders, "the real reason I retired was . . . "
At that moment, Sanders disappears from the barber chair in a puff of smoke and reappears in the living room of two guys playing Madden NFL 25. One of them has just opened a bottle of Pepsi Max, which appears to be the magic potion that transported Sanders.
A voiceover explains, "Uncap Pepsi Max to unlock a legend like Barry Sanders in Madden NFL 25."
Sometime later, one of the guys from the barber shop opens a Pepsi Max, sending Sanders back to the original location. "Sorry, dog, we're closed now," they say to a confused Sanders. (See the full spot here.)
Other marketing partners for the 25th anniversary edition of Madden NFL include GMC, Amazon, DirecTV and ESPN.
Sanders beat out a slew of current and legendary NFL players for the honor of being on the cover of Madden NFL 25, as voted by fans and consumers. Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings came in second.
EA Sports later revealed that Sanders would be on the cover for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wi releases, Peterson on the covers of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
"I am shocked, excited, humbled, elated. I am also proud to be the Madden 25 cover athlete," Sanders tweeted when he heard the news. "The voter turn out in this program has been remarkable. And the fact that I won is pretty sweet, but very surprising and amazing,”
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