It is time for this site to officially weigh in on the greatest controversy of our time: whether, or not, to support Calvin Johnson in EA’s quest for the next victim of the Madden Curse. We hereby advise Detroit Lions faithful to vote NO on Calvin Johnson. The Lions in Winter officially endorses Cam Newton for Madden 13 Cover.
Look, do I believe the player on cover of Madden is doomed to fail? About as much as I believe my opening a Guinness causes the Red Wings to score: for fun, yes totally really it’s completely ironcladly true; for serious no I am not a drooling idiot.
The reality of the Madden cover is the same as the reality of the rest of the NFL Fan/Media hivemind, which is to say it's the same as the Pro Bowl or Fantasy Football or any other award: people think what just happened will keep happening, and what hasn’t happened yet won’t happen. A year ago, Peyton Manning was a "lock" to “shatter” all of Brett Favre’s records, and Titus Young’s drafting was two weeks away from being met with boos.
Calvin Johnson’s proven he’s one of the best players in the NFL, even to the Doubting Crises of the world. There’s no accolade, honor, or award whose bestowment or lack thereof can change that. A Lion making the cover of Madden 13 would mean a dramatic undoing of the Millen Era: a time when no Lion was “hot,” or “cool,” or otherwise hyped by the NFL Fan/Media hivemind . . .
. . . except that this is a fan vote.
The marketing whizzes at EA deciding Megatron, out of all other players in the NFL, would move the most copies of Madden 13, would be one thing. But this is a fan vote. Browns fans got Peyton Hillis on the cover last season, which was super-awesome for them and everything because it’s the only thing Browns fans have left to live for.
The sad truth is, it’s all Madden’s got to live for, too. Why? Because the game that taught my generation how football works has dropped the ball. All the flash and glitz and glamour and play modes and TV presentation and stupid virtual trading card games, what even is that get all the development love, while the gameplay gets faster and faster and stupider and stupider. “Who’s on the cover” is Madden’s primary contribution to the universe.
This year, Cam Newton should be on the cover. He’s the avatar of hope for a team that’s gone through some wretched, hopeless seasons lately. The Panthers are a team on the rise, with a new logo to match their new unis and everything. Let them rejoice in the symbol of their resurrection.
Not long ago, we were as as Panthers fans are. Not long ago, Calvin Johnson on the cover of Madden would have been something I cherished. Savored. Clung to and took succor from. “Golly gosh,” I’d think, “a Detroit Lion won a popularity contest! That had players from other teams in it! The future is now!”
The Lions are a playoff team. I’ll cling to that.