Whole Nine Sports

History of Madden Covers: 2000-2009

Madden 2000
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Jonathan Joyce
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It’s almost that time of year! The new iteration of the EA Sports hit franchise Madden NFL Football is set to release on August 25, 2020. If you’re anything like me, no matter how much or how little the game is updated, it will be in my game collection. Today, I’m taking a look at the Madden covers from 2000-2009. Each year, the best players in the NFL vie for this honor to be the cover athlete. We’ll check out what these athletes did to earn the accolade and whether or not they suffered from the “Madden Curse”.

Madden 2000 (Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, PC)

Madden 2000
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Cover Athlete: Barry Sanders, RB, Detroit Lions

Player Rating: 99

Release Date: August 31, 1999

Prelude: In 1998, Barry Sanders rushed for a 5th best 1,491 yards along with 4 TDs. The Lions sputtered to a 5-11 record, yet again, missing the playoffs. Sanders capped off his historic career with a 10th straight Pro Bowl selection.

Cover Year: In July of 1999, the future Hall of Fame RB shocked the football world with his retirement.

Madden 2001 (Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, PS2, PC)

Madden 2001
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Cover Athlete: Eddie George, RB, Tennessee Titans

Player Rating: 94

Release Date: August 22, 2000

Prelude: Coming off an AFC Championship win and finishing 6th in the NFL with 1,304 rushing yards, Eddie George was the first Madden cover-athlete for the “next-gen” consoles.

Cover Year: An even better individual season came for George in 2000, leading the NFL in rushing with 1,509 yards. The Titans, again, finished with a 13-3 record but were ousted by the eventual Super Bowl XXXV champion Baltimore Ravens.

Madden 2002 (Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PS2, Xbox, PC)

Madden 2002
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Cover Athlete: Daunte Culpepper, QB, Minnesota Vikings

Player Rating: 92

Release Date: September 12, 2001

Prelude: The second-year QB burst onto the scene in Minnesota in 2000, leading the Vikings to an 11-5 record and an NFC Central title. Their season ended after a lopsided 41-0 loss to the New York Giants. Culpepper threw for 3,937 yards and 33 TDs while earning his first of three Pro Bowl invitations.

Cover Year: 2001 was not as kind to the former Central Florida QB. Injuries limited Culpepper to 11 games, with the Vikings missing the playoffs after posting a 5-11 record.

Madden 2003 (Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PS2, Xbox, PC)

Madden 2003
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Cover Athlete: Marshall Faulk, RB, St. Louis Rams

Player Rating: 99

Release Date: August 12, 2002

Prelude: Marshall Faulk cemented his status in 2001 with his third straight season of 1,300+ rushing yards and third straight First-Team All-Pro selection. The versatile RB also added 83 receptions for 765 yards as he helped lead the Rams to Super Bowl XXXVI.

Cover Year: Injuries haunted the 2002 season for Faulk. Even so, the superstar RB managed 953 rushing yards in 14 games, but would never top 1,000 rush yards in a season again.

Madden 2004 (Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PS2, Xbox, PC)

Madden 2004
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Cover Athlete: Michael Vick, QB, Atlanta Falcons

Player Rating: 95

Release Date: August 12, 2003

Prelude: Is this the most dominant single player in Madden history? I vote yes. The 2002 season saw the electric Michael Vick lead the Atlanta Falcons to a 9-6-1 record and a playoff berth. After defeating the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round, the Falcons were ousted by the Philadelphia Eagles. Vick showcased his unique skill-set in his second-season finishing with 2,936 passing yards and 777 rushing yards.

Cover Year: The 2003 season was all but wiped out by a broken leg suffered by Vick against the Baltimore Ravens during a preseason game. Vick would come back to play in five games (starting four) and lead the Falcons to a 3-1 record during that time.

Madden 2005 (Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PS2, Xbox, PC, Tapwave Zodiac)

Madden 2005
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Cover Athlete: Ray Lewis, LB, Baltimore Ravens

Player Rating: 99

Release Date: August 9, 2004

Prelude: The 2003 season was historic for Ray Lewis. He posted his second-highest combined tackles number of his career, was selected to a 6th Pro Bowl and named to his 4th First-Team All-Pro team, and won the 2003 AP Defensive Player of the Year award. The Ravens finished with a 10-6 record and were beaten in the Wild Card Playoffs round by the Tennessee Titans.

Cover Year: 2004 was similarly successful from an individual standout for Lewis. The Ravens star LB was voted a Pro Bowler and First-Team All-Pro for the second straight season. As a team, Baltimore missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record.

Madden 2006 (GameCube, Nintendo DS, PS2, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, PC, Mobile)

Madden 2006
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Cover Athlete: Donovan McNabb, QB, Philadelphia Eagles

Player Rating: 97

Release Date: August 8, 2005

Prelude: The Eagles represented the NFC in Super Bowl XXXIX after a McNabb-led offense and ferocious defense carried the team to a 13-3 record. McNabb threw for 3,875 yards and a career-best 31 TDs.

Cover Year: After the Week 10 loss to Dallas, the Eagles’ season spiraled. McNabb was lost for the season after undergoing hernia surgery. Philly floundered to a 6-10 record, missing the playoffs.

Madden 2007 (GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, Mac, PC, Game Boy Advance)

Madden 2007
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Cover Athlete: Shaun Alexander, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Player Rating: 98

Release Date: August 22, 2006

Prelude: The 2005 season was a record-setting one for Shaun Alexander, which saw the Seahawks star rush for 1,880 yards and 27 TDs. Along with those numbers, Alexander earned a Pro Bowl invitation, First-Team All-Pro honors, the 2005 AP Offensive Player of the Year award, the 2005 Bert Bell Award, and the 2005 NFL MVP. The Seahawks finished the season 13-3 and fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.

Cover Year: Injuries marred the 2006 season for the defending MVP. A foot fracture diagnosed in September 2006 limited Alexander to 896 rushing yards and 7 TDs.

Madden 2008 (GameCube, Nintendo DS, Wii, PS2, PS3, PSP, Xbox, Xbox 360, Mac, PC)

Madden 2008
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Cover Athlete: Vince Young, QB, Tennessee Titans

Player Rating: 87

Release Date: August 14, 2007

Prelude: Coming off the 2006 AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award and a Pro Bowl invitation, Vince Young looked to be the next big thing in the NFL. The former Texas Longhorn threw for 2,199 yards and 12 TDs while starting 13 out of 15 games he appeared in.

Cover Year: Although the yardage totals increased, Young threw a career-high 17 interceptions in 2007 and was on his way to being benched in 2008.

Madden 2009 (PS2, PS3, PSP, Nintendo DS, Wii, Xbox, Xbox 360)

Madden 2009
Photo from Gamestop.com

Cover Athlete: Brett Favre, QB, Green Bay Packers/New York Jets 

Player Rating: 94

Release Date: August 12, 2008

Prelude: The Packer legend capped off his legendary career in Green Bay by throwing for 4,155 yards and 28 TDs. After a 13-3 regular season, the New York Giants defeated the Packers in heartbreaking fashion in the NFC Championship.

Cover Year: Favre was surprisingly traded to the New York Jets during training camp. The team would miss the playoffs after a 9-7 record, with Favre throwing 22 interceptions and injuring his shoulder.