The Madden 25 cover vote has come down to two worthy candidates, but there is no question that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson deserves the opportunity to grace the front of the biggest video game in all of sports.
Peterson and Hall of Fame Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders have run the gauntlet by advancing through a large and talented bracket to reach the finals. Peterson got past all of today's top NFL stars, while Sanders had to outlast legendary players, many of whom are also in the Hall of Fame.
It's tough to argue with the fans' decision to this point as both Peterson and Sanders are deserving of a spot in the finals. Although Peterson still has many years left to build upon his resume, it's probably already safe to say that he and Sanders are two of the greatest running backs of all time, if not the most talented.
Since 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the revolutionary Madden franchise, the game's developers decided to go all out when it came to the cover vote. The fan vote was immensely popular last year as Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson came out on top, but the addition of a legends bracket took things to an entirely different level this year.
There is definitely a case to be made for both Peterson and Sanders. While Sanders is arguably one of the greatest players of all time, he has never been on a Madden cover. Sanders retired while he was still productive in 1998 and players weren't put on the Madden cover until 2001, so Sanders was never a factor, but now he has a golden opportunity.
The fact that this year's edition of Madden is celebrating the past 25 years rather than just the upcoming 2013 season definitely gives Sanders some added ammunition. With that said, the game will still focus on the present day, and there is perhaps no player more explosive and more important to his team in the NFL right now than Peterson.
Peterson is coming off one of the great all-time seasons by a running back as he rushed for 2,097 yards. Peterson fell just nine yards short of Eric Dickerson's single-season yardage record, but it can certainly be argued that Peterson's season was even more impressive. He averaged six yards per carry, scored 12 touchdowns and pretty much single-handedly led the Vikings to the playoffs despite erratic play from quarterback Christian Ponder.
In addition to all of that, Peterson entered the 2012 season coming off a significant knee injury. Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL in Week 16 of the 2011 season against the Washington Redskins. There was no guarantee that Peterson would even be ready for the start of the 2012 season, but he willed himself back to health and was absolutely dominant all season long.
Peterson's performance led to him being named both the AP Offensive Player of the Year and the AP NFL Most Valuable Player. Sanders accomplished that same feat in 1997, but Peterson's 2012 season was superior and the added injury aspect clearly puts him over the top.
It is quite clear that Peterson and Sanders are similar in a lot of ways. While Peterson did have the support of quarterback Brett Favre for two seasons, one of which was actually good, he hasn't really had great signal-callers to help him. The same can be said for Sanders. Quarterbacks are generally considered the most important players on the field, but Peterson and Sanders have been exceptions to that rule.
The NFL is a passing league right now, so the fact that the fans have voted Peterson and Sanders into the finals says a lot about how special they are. There is no way that the fans can go wrong with either choice, but considering the year that Peterson just had, it's only fitting that he occupies the prestigious Madden 25 cover.
Everything will be settled on April 24 at 8 p.m. ET when the winner is announced on ESPN2's SportsNation. While a case can easily be made for Sanders, this is A.D.'s year.
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