Meet the Finalists: Barry Sanders

The Madden NFL 25 Cover Vote final is now underway, featuring Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders and reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson. EA SPORTS will run down each player's road to the final, and chronicle their careers both on the field and throughout the Madden NFL franchise.

No running back in the history of the NFL has been blessed with Barry Sanders' combination of speed, agility, and game-breaking ability. The Detroit Lions legend and NFL Hall of Famer turned five-yard losses into a 70-yard touchdowns routinely, quickly spinning or juking hundreds of defenders into embarrassing career highlights. But he didn’t gloat after scoring TDs, instead celebrating like he’d been there before by casually flipping the ball to the referee.

In an era where terms like "video game numbers" are thrown around ad nauseum, it was Sanders that may have been the first to put them up in the modern league. His 1997 season was one for the ages, as he rushed for 2,053 yards and won a share of the MVP award. Sanders also set an NFL record with 100+ yards rushing in 14 straight games that year.

Barry doing what he does best in Madden '99: Making guys miss.

The following season, shockingly, turned out to be Sanders' last in the NFL. While many athletes aspire to leave their sport while at their peak, few did so with as much impact as Sanders. In his last year with the Lions, Sanders rushed for 1,491 yards, falling just shy of his fifth consecutive season with more than 1,500 rushing yards. The short lifespan of an NFL running back is well-documented; the fact that Barry's legions of fans never saw him decline only goes to bolster his already epic legacy. 

"Cyber Barry" was a central theme of Madden '99, which featured 3D polygon graphics for the first time.

In 10 short seasons, Sanders rewrote a good portion of the NFL’s rushing record book. He made the Pro Bowl in all 10 of his professional seasons, and never rushed for less than 1,115 yards in a single year. Records?  How about five seasons of 1,500+ rushing yards? Or 25 games with more than 150 yards? When he retired, Sanders ranked just 1,457 yards behind Walter Payton for the NFL's all-time rushing mark. He was just 30-years-old.

Fans can now vote for Barry Sanders in the Madden NFL 25 Cover Vote finals at ESPN.com/MaddenVoteThe winner of the Madden NFL 25 Cover Vote will be revealed live on ESPN SportsNation at 8 pm EST on Wednesday, April 24.

Relive Barry's Road to the Cover Vote Finals
Defeated Jerry Rice in Semifinals
Defeated Joe Montana in Quarterfinals
Defeated Ray Lewis in Round 3
Defeated Marcus Allen in Round 2 
Defeated Ron Rivera in Round 1