After an exhaustive 32-man bracket of fan voting fervor, EA finally has its Madden NFL 12 cover man: Browns running back Peyton Hillis. If your first question regarding this is, "Who?" congratulations: you're not from Cleveland.
His final competition was Eagles QB Michael Vick, who became the NFL's Comeback Player of the Year in 2010 after a huge regular season run for Philadelphia that led to a fairly typical Eagles post-season--one of abject disappointment. Vick would have seemed the logical, popular choice, though his chances may have been hurt by the fact that he apparently used to be way into killing dogs for fun and profit.
Hillis now need only avoid the Madden Curse, that long-running superstition that being awarded the coveted cover spot of a Madden NFL game is the endorsement deal equivalent of the Sword of Damocles. Gracing the cover has often led to, at best, a sub-par season for the featured athlete, and at worst, some kind of terrible, career-altering injury.
== TEASER ==Though it's hardly iron-clad proof of any Madden-related hoodoo, stars such as Daunte Culpepper, Eddie George, Marshall Faulk, Donovan McNabb, Ray Lewis and Shaun Alexander have all suffered some manner of misfortune immediately following a cover appearance. Vick himself was once a cover victim as well. After taking the cover spot for Madden NFL 2004, Vick missed 12 games of the season after suffering a broken leg... not to mention all the years of financial turmoil and legal torment that followed after his status as an aficionado of competitive dog murder came to public light.
But hey, Hillis is probably going to be fine, and we here at Giant Bomb would like to offer our congratulations to Peyton and the people of Cleveland, who haven't had it easy in recent years, what with LeBron James and the economy and the suffocating weight of nonstop depression and all that. We also extend our condolences to EA Sports, who now have to figure out how to market a video game with a Cleveland Browns player on the cover. We're sure they'll figure something out.