The honor—or curse, depending on your level of pessimism—of gracing the cover of Madden NFL 25 will come down to a vote between legendary running back Barry Sanders and reigning MVP Adrian Peterson.
If you have no prior allegiances to either man, the battle between new and old is nearly impossible to separate.
The numbers certainly won't do you any favors. Sanders averaged 99.8 rushing yards per game, while Peterson sits barely behind him at 99.4. Both average 5.0 yards per carry, and both have a standout, 2,000-yard MVP season surrounded by heaps of other All-Pro campaigns.
As such, both have a legitimate case as the winner of the final vote. It simply depends on your mood.
With Sanders, you'd be going with the guy who best blurs the actual line between real life and a video game.
His dazzling runs through defenses are legendary. His ability to cut and change direction while at a speed that most of us can't even reach in the first place was unfair. His ability to make something out of nothing was mesmerizing. His elusiveness in the open field remains one of the most electrifying single attributes of all time—and it will likely never change.
Sanders is unique in every sense of the word, and in a time where YouTube videos garner more attention than many "old-school" media outlets, his legend only continues to grow.
A vote for Sanders is a vote for arguably the best running back of all time. It's a vote for one of the most dangerous—yet graceful—playmakers ever. It's a vote for the inspiration behind the juke stick.
But where the Hall of Famer excels in quickness and agility, Peterson makes up for in speed and power.
Essentially, the Minnesota Vikings superstar is a gazelle in human form. At 6'1", 217 pounds, Peterson will put a linebacker on his back in the hole, then immediately enter, like, 17th gear and accelerate away from the secondary.
If you were to take the best quality of several different-styled running backs, you'd have Peterson. He's strong, he's powerful, he's fast, he has crystal-clear vision, he can make defenders miss. He is a joy to watch as long as your team isn't futilly trying to stop him.
Also working in the 28-year-old's favor—and the reason why I believe he'll earn the slight victory—is that he is fresh on the minds of the voters:
Just nine months after tearing up his knee, Peterson came back and nearly set the NFL single-season rushing mark, proving that he is unlike anyone we've ever seen—and has a very real chance to go down as the best ever.
The unparalleled characteristics of Sanders and Peterson are the reasons why they have made it this far in a tournament of legends, and it's the reason you can't go wrong with either player.