In the battle between "New School" and "Old School," it seems fans of the Madden NFL video game franchise like their cover athletes a bit on the classic side.
As announced on ESPN's SportsNation program on Wednesday, former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders will adorn the cover of Madden 25. Sanders defeated Vikings running back and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson in the final vote with 58 percent of the vote.
Peterson was the final victim in Sanders' rip through the 64-man field, which was voted on by fans throughout. A No. 3 seed in the "Old School" bracket, Sanders defeated fellow luminaries like Jerry Rice, Joe Montana, Ray Lewis and Marcus Allen en route to the crown. This will mark the second time Sanders appeared on the Madden cover, having been the background athlete along with John Madden for Madden 2000.
The single most storied sports video game in history, the 2013 iteration will mark Madden's 25th anniversary. Though Sanders was not around for the franchise's widespread takeover into the monolith it is today, he may be the perfect candidate to encompass the past 25 years.
Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004, Sanders is the NFL's third all-time leading rusher despite playing only 10 professional seasons. Arguably the most elusive player in league history, Sanders amassed 15,269 yards on five yards per carry and scored 109 touchdowns over the course of his career.
We all know Sanders' resume as a player. The question is how the Lions legend stacks up against the greatest Madden cover athletes of all time. Being a Madden cover athlete isn't just about being a great player, it's about standing the test of time and embodying what the game is about.
In other words, a Madden cover athlete cannot look like Hammer pants when we look back in history. Even if a player makes sense in the moment, the truly great Madden moments come from players who last forever.
With that in mind, here is a breakdown of the best Madden cover athletes in history along with where Sanders ranks.
(Note: We're only including players and excluding those who appeared in the background when John Madden was the true cover photo.)