And then there were four—including a member of the San Francisco 49ers.
He will now compete with Cam Newton—voting is already underway at ESPN.com—for a spot in the finals, with the ultimate winner to be announced on SportsNation on April 25 at 5 p.m. ET.
Before casting a vote, 49ers fans must ask themselves a very serious question: Do I vote for my favorite player or am I believer in the "cover curse"?
Following a breakout season in 2010 in which he rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns, Hillis was featured on the latest cover. The next season, he battled through injuries en route to a paltry 587 yards and three touchdowns.
And if you think defensive players are somehow curse-repellent, think again. Ray Lewis, arguably the greatest linebacker ever, was also bitten by the curse. After appearing on the cover in 2005, Lewis missed 10 games due to injury and failed to receive an invitation to the Pro Bowl—the only time that has happened in his career.
The San Francisco 49ers need Willis on the field, and they need him to be curse-free. He's a star linebacker, tackling machine and the heart and soul of the entire team.
So I implore you, fans:
Don’t play with fire, vote Newton.