Peyton Hillis To Grace Cover of Madden 12

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Peyton Hillis To Grace Cover of Madden 12
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

The polls are closed, the votes are counted, the results are in.

Peyton Hillis will be coming to a video game retailer near you as the cover athlete for the latest installment of EA Sports' Madden NFL series.

In yet another upset in the tournament hosted on ESPN.com, Hillis defeated Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick by an overwhelming margin.

The final results? Peyton 66 percent; Michael 34.

Over one million votes were cast alone in the final round, bringing the total for the entire tournament to over 12 million.

Hillis' run (no pun intended) to being crowned Madden cover athlete was an impressive one in the least.

He started with the tenth overall seed, leading to an opening round match-up with Raven RB Ray Rice. After gaining 62 percent of the votes in that contest, Hillis propelled himself into a nail-biter with number two seed, Matt Ryan. Hillis won by two percent in the second round, sneaking away with 51 percent of the votes.

Compared to round two, the rest of the bracket was a breeze for the Browns running back. He defeated Jamaal Charles (60 percent to 40 percent) and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers (61 to 39) to meet Vick in the finals.

Speaking of Vick, his road to the championship was a lot smoother. Entering with the three seed, Vick took on the likes of DeMarcus Ware,  Andre Johnson, Patrick Willis, and Adrian Peterson throughout the tourney without much challenge.

Vick's chances to win were obviously hampered by the negative light surrounding him ever since his dog fighting scandal became public, but the fact that he made it to the final round regardless was impressive in itself.

Now that the cover has been decided, all thoughts turn to the Madden "curse", a jinx that befalls those who pose for EA's box art. The legend of the curse dates back to the release of Madden 2001, when Eddie George was the first NFL player to grace the game series' cover. George's Titans lost in the playoffs that year and the dominant running back never ran for more than 3.3 yards per carry for the remainder of his career.

Browns fans fear not—Hillis says he doesn't believe in the curse:

"For people to believe in this so-called curse, I can't wait to prove people wrong. From what I believe and where I am in my spiritual life, it would be good to prove them wrong in that sense.”

For the record, last year's cover athlete, Drew Brees, faced no apparent setbacks. Except for that whole loss to Seattle in the playoffs.

The question I have is what will Hillis' overall rank be. Does he get a boosted ranking for posing for the cover?

That might finally make the Browns playable online.

Look for Hillis on store shelves August 30, 2011.

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