For the second time in the last two years, Patrick Mahomes has found his way onto a Madden cover. Alongside him, another guy by the name of Tom Brady, dawning his second Madden cover appearance, his first being the Madden 18 cover.
EA released a teaser trailer showing a fully grown goat and a baby goat walking out of a barn together, and I immediately knew it would be featuring Mahomes and Brady. Tom Brady is considered the GOAT of football while Mahomes has been called the “baby GOAT”.
This debate was sparked due to a tweet from ESPN back in February near the Super Bowl matchup between the Chiefs and Buccaneers where the term “baby GOAT” was first brought up. Mahomes has proven to be the best QB in football right now, and who better to share a cover with the baby GOAT than the big GOAT in Tom Brady.
This is the first dual-player cover for Madden since the 2010 cover featuring Pittsburgh Steelers legend Troy Polamalu and Arizona Cardinals legend Larry Fitzgerald. With the first dual cover in over a decade, the important question here is…where does this cover rank all-time? Let’s check it out.
10.) John Madden Covers 1988-2000
It would be wrong to not add the origin of the game to this list right? John Madden, the genius behind the game and legendary coach, dawned on the cover for over a decade. Until the cover of the game became purely about player popularity, John Madden was the guy.
The best cover being the debut of Madden in the 1988 version where he is sporting a cheesy grin and busting through game graphics. The first Madden game was sold on a floppy disc for the Apple II, MS-DOS systems, and two early versions of Commodore computers. This was well before I was even born but it does not take much to appreciate greatness in the making.
I am sure John Madden did not see the billions of dollars waiting on the horizon over the next 30 years but this was a good way to kick-start a legendary game’s life overall. Thank you John Madden.
9.) Madden 2005- Ray Lewis Cover
The 2005 cover featuring the defensive beast in Ray Lewis was and is the best cover featuring a defensive player. Three total Madden covers are featuring a defensive player, 2010 with Troy Polamalu, and 2015 with Richard Sherman. Ray Lewis, at the time, was the most dominant defensive player in the NFL, and this cover easily captures that “tackle now” look and intensity.
This Madden also is one of the few that cuts off the top of the player’s head on the cover, but Lewis’s intensity and size on the cover make up for that. Madden 2005’s cover easily earns a top 10 spot.
8.) Madden 06- Donavan McNabb Cover
Madden 06 is a huge pillar in the history of Madden games overall. Madden 06 was the first version of the game to shorten the year in the title from “2006” to “06” and since then, that is the platform for the last 15 years.
This Madden cover was also controversial because Peyton Manning was easily the better quarterback when compared to McNabb. However, Manning was rather hated in the NFL in 2005-06, and McNabb was loved. McNabb and the Eagles were fresh off of a Super Bowl appearance, so McNabb was “enough” to sell a game.
This Madden was also sold across quite a few gaming platforms so there are a few different forms of this McNabb cover. The Playstation 2 version sold the most copies and is the most similar to the Xbox cover overall. Madden 06 was one of the sparks for future Madden cover blueprints.
7.) Madden 17- Rob Gronkowski Cover
I could honestly create an entire list for covers with action shots on them and this one is near the top. The iconic “Gronk Spike” stands out when compared to some of the other action shots like Drew Brees or even Odell Beckham Jr.
Gronk was certainly worthy of a cover with his level of play in 2016-17 and was certainly on his way to a Hall of Fame career. The biggest question about this cover was how Gronk managed a cover before the GOAT Tom Brady, but that debate was short-lived considering Brady made the cover the next year.
The Gronk Spike cover truly stands out with the display of Gronks intensity on the field and his eyes say it all in the cover. Madden 17 deserves this spot with the attention to detail on the picture of Gronk ultimately landing it on the list of all-time greatest Madden covers.
6.) Madden 11- Drew Brees Cover
Keeping with the action shot covers, the Madden 11 cover featuring Drew Brees I think is easily one of if not the best action shot on the cover. With the details in Brees’s arms and jersey folds and his facial expression, Brees himself is complemented by the addition of the fans beneath his right arm. All of these details make the cover pop overall, and not to mention, Brees and the Saints were really good that season and were fresh off of a Super Bowl win.
Madden 11 is the only cover to feature fans and this cover felt perfect after how impacted the New Orleans fans had been after Hurricane Katrina. The addition of the Super Bowl win and a Drew Brees Madden cover was the best way to honor New Orleans. Madden 11 easily makes this list.
5.) Madden 22- Mahomes & Brady Cover
I have been a big fan of Madden for most of my life and it takes a lot to make this list. The reason I have put next year’s Madden cover on this list is because of the history behind the two cover athletes. The first two athlete cover since 2010, and the fact that EA has decided to put the best football player of all time with the current best football player on the same cover shows their connection overall.
The cover is so simple that it makes it even more beautiful. The GOAT and the baby GOAT sitting next to each other with the “I dare you to beat us” look on their faces. This cover will become iconic if the game itself can live up to the hype. Good job EA, now make sure the game is as good as the cover.
4.) Madden 16- Odell Beckham Jr. Cover
This cover is another version of an iconic action shot cover. Odell is featured making a one-handed catch which is a move he made look quite easy every week it seemed like in 2016. The attention to detail on his tattoos and his eyes on the ball also makes the artistic style of the cover that much better. This cover easily made the game look more appealing to fans of the game and it would sell.
The only feature of this cover that I do not like is that the ball is cut off a little bit and I feel the ball should at least be in full view if you are going to feature a one-handed catch as the action shot. Other than that, this cover pops and is easily one of the best and deserves a top-five spot.
3.) Madden 2020- Patrick Mahomes Cover
Following his 2018 MVP and his continued dominance in the NFL, Mahomes first time on the cover is high on this list for a reason. Mahomes got a Madden cover faster than Tom Brady, think about that for a minute. The Kansas City Chiefs color scheme paint splatter behind Mahomes coveted flex celebration makes this cover pop.
I know some people would have liked an action shot of Mahomes, considering he has made incredible plays such as the “no-look” pass, but thus a flex photo it is. Mahomes will be one of if not the best player for the next decade, and this all but supports why he is on Madden 22’s cover. This cover was just another accolade to add to his already impressive resume as a player.
2.) Madden 2004- Michael Vick Cover
This is easily one of the most iconic Madden covers of all-time action shots or no action shots. While the design of the cover was very simple and nothing jumps off the cover, the cover athlete makes it iconic. Michael Vick makes this cover a top-three contender because he was one of the best, if not the best Madden character to play within any Madden, even today. Michael Vick’s character had an unmatched speed and was impossible to beat in Madden 2004, and to this day remains one of the most iconic video game characters when it comes to their dominance.
The most confusing part when it comes to Michael Vick’s character in Madden is that he never reached the 99 overall clubs until Madden 20. A character as dominant as Vick in Madden 2004, making that game as iconic as it is, likely won’t be matched for a long time.
1.) Madden 10- Larry Fitzgerald & Troy Polamalu Cover
This is without a doubt the best Madden cover of all time. EA took a leap of faith by adding two players on the cover for the first time, and it worked well. This cover came after the incredible Super Bowl matchup between the Steelers and the Cardinals. This cover features the best offensive player for Arizona in Fitzgerald and the best defensive player for the Steelers in Polamalu.
The art of putting them on the cover as if they are lined up across from each other on the field is genius. The paint effect, as if they are also blending, makes the cover pop featuring the two Hall of Famers. Good job on this one EA.
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