Your Madden NFL 13 Cover Athlete Awaits

The Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote Is Down to its Two Finalists

Namath vs. Unitas. Manning vs. Brady. Rice vs. any defensive back in the league.

The NFL has had its fair share of enticing match-ups throughout its history, and beginning today, EA SPORTS fuels the league’s next hottest showdown, the one between Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and wide receiver Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions.

But this winner-take-all duel isn’t for a league MVP award or the right to play in the Pro Bowl. Nor is it for a chance to hoist the coveted Lombardi Trophy. No, this honor is for something much bigger.

(Play along.)

For the next six days, Newton and Johnson will battle it out for the right to appear on the cover of Madden NFL 13. But unlike Super Bowl victories and post-season awards, this time you decide who wins.

Panther vs. Lion. Top seed vs. 6th seed. Super Cam vs. Megatron. Who ya got?

Since the Madden Cover Vote campaign kicked off a few weeks ago, fans of all 32 teams have crashed the polls in record numbers, pushing their favorite candidate to the forefront. As the tournament moved along each week and the votes kept pouring in, the field of 64 dwindled and only the strong, vocal, or those with unheralded support from a rabid fan base were able to survive.

There have been upsets. Expected victories. Dominating performances. And some fun surprises along the way.

We had an 11th-seeded linebacker, Patrick Willis of the 49ers, power his way through to the semifinal round, defeating odds-on favorites every step of the way. That is, until he collided head-first into an unstoppable Newton this past week.

We also had Aaron Rodgers, the celebrated Super Bowl winning quarterback of the Green Bay Packers reach the semifinals for the second-consecutive year, only to get upset yet again once the field was cut to four.

Talk about heartbreak. But hey, at least he has a Super Bowl ring to cry on.

The tournament also featured some who went out of their way to rally their fans by way of (we assume intentionally) comical viral videos and not-shameless-at-all plugs during a few appearances on ESPN.

In the end, it all comes down to a rookie sensation who surprised many with a stellar—and record-breaking—Year 1 performance, and arguably one of the most gifted wide receivers to hit the gridiron since the heydays of Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, or dare we say, Jerry Rice.

(Larry Fitzgerald may have something to say about that.)

As for the finalists, it’s really no surprise they’re here. Both have revived their respective franchises this past season with their play on the field. Both have become the fresh young faces of the league off it. Both are widely popular outside the comfy confines of Charlotte and Detroit. Both will look stunning on the cover of the next Madden NFL game.

So with just a few days left before we announce a winner, we’ll ask the question for a final time: Who ya got?

With the finals now upon us, you can cast your vote for your favorite cover athlete candidate from your computer or mobile phone at ESPN.com/MaddenVote through April 25. You are also encouraged to vote daily and tweet your picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter.

As the tournament concludes, be sure to check back for a final wrap-up which will feature a fun recap of the day’s events.