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NFL: Ranking the NFL Careers of the Madden Cover Atheletes Since 2001

Eric JohnsonCorrespondent IIIJuly 5, 2011

NFL: Ranking the NFL Careers of the Madden Cover Atheletes Since 2001

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    The people have spoken, and they want Peyton Hillis on the cover of the newest installment of Madden!

    Yeah, true story.

    The Madden cover has always been a symbolic honor for NFL players, and for some a curse. While some have went on to have hall-of-fame careers, a select few become irrelevant to the football world.

    Let's look at who is the best cover athlete in history.....

13. Peyton Hillis

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    Yeah, so democracy failed on this one.

    EA Sports gave fans the ability to choose from 32 players and this is who we choose? Better than Jordan Gross from Carolina I guess....

    Not that Hillis isn't a good NFL running back, but he's just not elite Madden cover material.

12. Vince Young

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    This kid had a ton of potential coming out of Texas after a championship run.

    He has shown signs of being able to be a great quarterback, but other issues have got in his way.

    On the field he brings a strong arm, but weak leadership which often hurts his team.

    If he can put it all together he can save his status from being a bust.

    Young is still just 28 years old, hopefully a trade can rejuvenate his once promising career.

11. Dante Culpepper

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    Any NFL fan has to remember the dangerous duo of Randy Moss and Dante Culpepper. Well that's all in the past as Culpepper is now the starting quarterback for the UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions.

    Culpepper was a beast in size and had a good arm, but he is an example of the Madden curse biting a star

    Maybe it was not being able to recover from injury, but after the 2004 season it was all downhill for the former Pro Bowler.

    Having short stints in Oakland, Miami, and Detroit wasn't the answer for Culpepper, hopefully for him he will find success in the UFL.

10. Eddie George

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    Although Eddie George's NFL career wasn't long, he still ran for over 10,000 yards in nine seasons.

    The former Heisman winner had four straight Pro Bowl selections for the Titans from 1997-2000, but after that he was never an elite running back.

    Maybe it was a heavy workload that slowed him down, but  George was still a great NFL running back in his time.

9. Shaun Alexander

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    Shaun Alexander had a few great years in Seattle. After 2005, he watched his production take a major dip.

    If Alexander had a longer stay in the NFL, he could have went down as one of the greatest running backs in history. But a small stint of greatness doesn't do the job.

    After a good run in Seattle, Alexander was traded to Washington where he never fit in the game plan. From there on out he was never able to find another gig in the NFL.

    Alexander in his run of greatness was a solid runner with both good speed and strength.

    The former NFL MVP was the first player in history to land on both the NCAA Football and Madden covers.

8. Larry Fitzgerald

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    Fitzgerald is a top three receiver in the NFL, unfortunately for him he doesn't have a quarterback to bring out his abilities.

    Arizona is currently going through the dreaded NFL quarterback carousel, which is even worse for Fitzgerald as he is in the prime of his career.

    Seeing his touchdown numbers drop to six in 2010, Fitzgerald still managed to make his fifth Pro Bowl.

    Fitzgerald, with a few more great years, could be a Hall-of-Fame candidate.

7. Michael Vick

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    Michael Vick almost watched his NFL career become a shame.

    Before a prison sentence Vick was the most feared running quarterback in NFL history. He also had a cannon of an arm although he wasn't as accurate as he needed to be.

    But now that he is back, he looks better than ever.

    In 12 games last year Vick put together his best statistical season in his career, helping the Eagles through an impressive season. While the season had a disappointing ending, the future looks bright in Philadelphia.

6. Troy Polamalu

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    Lets just set this straight, Troy Polamalu did not make the cover of Madden just because of his hair.

    Possibly the best defender in the NFL, Polamalu has helped anchor the Steelers' defense to two Super Bowl titles and another appearance last year.

    Coming off of a NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, Polamalu looks to continue his success in the NFL by adding another Super Bowl ring to his collection.

    When it's all said and done for his career, Troy could go down in history as one of the best defensive backs in the game.

5. Donovan McNabb

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    McNabb was in a mess last year, eventually being replaced by less than stellar Rex Grossman. But, overall his career has been a success.

    It took a while for Philly fans to warm up to McNabb, but when he did he brought the Eagles many great years.

    While never winning a Super Bowl, he did guide the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance and many deep playoff runs.

    He will go down as one of the greatest quarterbacks of his time.

4. Drew Brees

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    Video gamers put up ridiculous stats on Madden every year, Drew Brees does it in real life.

    Since landing in New Orleans in 2006, Brees has set numerous NFL records and won a Super Bowl. While being one of the best statistical quarterbacks in the league, Brees has also shown great leadership ability in helping revive a team that didn't have much hope before his reign.

    If Brees keeps bolstering his stats and winning, he can easily keep climbing the list as one of the greatest quarterbacks in his era

3. Marshall Faulk

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    The former anchor of the greatest show on turf had one of the best careers in running back history.

    Faulk was a great runner as well as a valuable receiving option out of the backfield.

    While playing with a great cast in St Louis, he put up great numbers over the years along with some highlight plays.

    The seven time Pro Bowler and NFL MVP also added a Super Bowl ring to his resume in one of the better Super Bowl games in history.

    Faulk was recently elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2011.

2. Ray Lewis

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    Is it possible that Ray Lewis is the best middle linebacker in NFL history?

    Lewis continues to climb the all-time tackles leader board along with being one of the most feared players in the game's history.

    At age 35, Ray Lewis put together another strong season as a Raven, and has shown no true signs of slowing down.

    Being the first defensive player on the Madden cover is an honor, but Lewis is shooting for best defensive player in history.

1. Brett Favre

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    Madden was always kind of obsessed with Favre, so it's only right that he gives Brett the cover as a retirement gift.

    When Favre originally retired in 2008, he went down as one of the most loved figures in all of sports history. When he kept coming back things started to change.

    The NFL's Iron Man produced many exciting years in the league during his time, winning a Super Bowl and breaking many quarterback records along the way.

    Hopefully once he stays retired for a while his image will be restored, and his legacy will be remembered.

    Anyway you put it, Favre is the greatest cover athlete in Madden history.

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