The first ever “John Madden Football” video game was released in 1988. Between then and 1999 (which was when Madden 2000 was released), every cover for the game featured the former coach. And it was announced earlier today that he is set to make his return to that familiar place, as John Madden was named the Cover Athlete for the upcoming Madden 23 video game, which will be released later this summer.
With Madden being placed on this year’s cover, it means we won’t be seeing any new faces or teams grace the cover of one of the most popular video games ever made. Interestingly enough, there are a total of 13 NFL teams who have never been represented on a Madden cover — 14, if you don’t include special edition covers.
Deadspin put together a list of those teams. They are as follows:
New York Jets
Las Vegas/Oakland Raiders
LA/San Diego Chargers
Dallas Cowboys (never appeared on Main cover, Terrell Owens appeared on the Madden 19 Hall of Fame Edition)
There are some rather surprising names on this list, to say the least. Perhaps the two most notable would be the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, as both teams had the luxury of rostering one of the greatest players ever in Peyton Manning — not to mention all the other stars they’ve had, like Terrell Davis, Marvin Harrison, Andrew Luck and Demaryius Thomas, to name just a few.
The list also includes a number of teams with players who could have been strongly considered for this year’s cover. The aforementioned Colts and Broncos, to begin with, have rushing champion Jonathan Taylor and newly acquired quarterback Russell Wilson, respectively.
Meanwhile, the likes of Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Miami’s Tyreek Hill, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, the Chargers’ Justin Herbert, Vegas’ Davante Adams, Carolina’s Christian McCaffery, and Dallas’ Dak Prescott would have all been very worthy cover athletes, had they been chosen.
Nonetheless, EA Sports did the right thing by honoring the late, great John Madden with this year’s cover. It was likely an easy call for Electronic Arts, even if it meant leaving 14 teams in search of their first appearance on a Madden cover.
Here’s a list of the players who have appeared on the cover of Madden since 2000, and the teams they represented:
Eddie George, Tennessee Titans (Madden 2001); Dante Culpepper, Minnesota Vikings (Madden 2002); Marshall Faulk, St. Louis Rams (Madden 2003); Michael Vick, Atlanta Falcons (Madden 2004); Ray Lewis, Baltimore Ravens (Madden 2005); Donovan McNabb, Philadelphia Eagles (Madden 06); Shaun Alexander, Seattle Seahawks (Madden 07); Vince Young, Tennessee Titans (Madden 08); Brett Favre, Green Bay Packers (Madden 09); Troy Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steelers & Larry Fitzgerald, Arizona Cardinals (Madden 10); Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints (Madden 11); Peyton Hillis, Cleveland Browns (Madden 12); Calvin Johnson, Detroit Lions (Madden 13); Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions (Madden 25: 1989 to 2014); Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks (Madden 15); Odell Beckham Jr., New York Giants (Madden 16); Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots (Madden 17); Tom Brady. New England Patriots (Madden 18); Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers (Madden 19 Standard); Terrell Owens, Dallas Cowboys (Madden 19 Hall of Fame Edition); Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (Madden 20); Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens (Madden 21); Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers & Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs (Madden 22); John Madden (Madden 23).