Now that wasn’t so hard, was it? Well, perhaps it was. Maybe just a little bit.
Either way, the torment of deciding who advances past the play-in round of the Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote tournament, a round in which fans had to choose between two teammates, has expired. With the original field of 64 of the hottest players cut down to 32, the real fun begins.
Well, except if you’re a fan of the New England Patriots. Your anguish will continue for another week or so. We’ll explain this one later.
Earlier today EA SPORTS and ESPN released the latest Cover Vote bracket—a bracket that features one player per team (almost), two regions, and seedings for all remaining players. The announcement follows a two-week opening round hosted on the SportsNation Facebook page.
Among the opening round winners are past Super Bowl champions Aaron Rodgers and Victor Cruz, former Madden NFL cover athletes Larry Fitzgerald, Troy Polamalu, and Drew Brees, and some of the most dominant defensive players in the league such as DeMarcus Ware, Dwight Freeney, Darrelle Revis, and Jared Allen.
However, while a good number of the favorites survived, it was a tough Round 1 for signal callers Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matthew Stafford, and Josh Freeman, who all failed to advance.
But the sacking of the quarterbacks didn’t end there.
In a vote that went down to the wire, fans of the San Diego Chargers elected to push tight end Antonio Gates through to Round 2, spoiling quarterback Philip Rivers’ chances of becoming the next cover athlete.
Over in the NFC, Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy stunned teammate Michael Vick, the runner-up in last year’s award-winning Madden NFL 12 Cover Vote competition. As for Peyton Hillis, the Madden NFL 12 cover athlete, EA SPORTS gave him the year off in favor of Joe Thomas and Joe Haden of the Browns, with Haden advancing through.
Looking ahead, Round 2 should provide plenty of drama and excitement for everyone.
For starters, there’s an NFC South quarterback showdown already brewing between Atlanta’s Matt Ryan and Brees, along with a battle between speedy running backs Chris Johnson and Marshawn Lynch. As for a third NFC South quarterback in the mix, one Cam Newton, oh he’s just one of the two top seeds in the entire tournament, with Rodgers of the Packers being the other.
Two players who know each other well both on the field and off, Fitzgerald and Polamalu square off in a battle of Madden NFL 10 co-cover athletes.
In an ironic twist of fate, free agency was not kind at all to St. Louis, throwing a major kink into the team’s tournament pairings after Rams representative Brandon Lloyd – or should we say ‘former Rams representative’ – signed a new deal with the New England Patriots last week. So where’s St. Louis in all of this? Nowhere, because their other hopeful candidate, defensive end Chris Long, was knocked out by Lloyd in the play-in round. As a thank you to the Rams faithful, the wideout switched jerseys, threw on a hoodie, and moved east.
Which brings us to New England.
Patriots fans will once again have to select among their own as the newly acquired Lloyd goes up against tight end Rob Gronkowski in Round 2. With Gronkowski being one of the two #2 seeds (Cruz is the other) he should have little trouble moving on. Producing self-promoting Madden Cover Vote videos on YouTube won’t hurt his cause either.
Finally, there’s the case of Tim Tebow. Isn’t there always? Forever the fan favorite, Tebow’s another player who has a good chance of moving on. Question is, will he be representing the Denver Broncos or somebody else?
I hear the Rams could use a new player rep.
Beginning today, fans can continue to vote for their favorite cover athlete candidate from their computer or mobile phones at ESPN.com/MaddenVote through April 25.
To ensure your favorite player advances to the next round, you are also encouraged to vote daily and tweet your picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter. Beginning Thursday at 9:00am ET, fans can also visit the Madden NFL Facebook page to fill out their own Madden NFL 13 cover athlete bracket to compete against their friends for the chance to win Super Bowl tickets and copies of Madden NFL 13.
As the tournament continues, be sure to check back for results and previews all the way until the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete is announced.