It’s that time of the year once again where we are waiting anxiously to find out who’ll grace the cover of this year’s version of Madden NFL 22. EA Sports announced this week that the cover for this coming season will be revealed on Thursday, June 17 and the company has also given us a brief teaser that leaves us a few breadcrumbs as to who it may be (We got a nice cameo for Madden NFL 12 cover athlete Peyton Hillis as well!).
The teaser showed two goats — one noticeably older than the other — causing a ruckus in a barn before emerging to reveal the date of the cover announcement.
While we only have a few days left until we know for sure who’ll be on this year’s cover, we decided to take it upon ourselves to roll through a handful of candidates that could be considered for this honor. Below, you’ll find our top-three options for both an individual cover athlete and our top options if EA Sports decides to go with a two-player cover, as they seem to suggest they will be doing in that teaser above.
Top individual player cover
1. BIlls QB Josh Allen
Three of the last four Madden NFL cover athletes have been quarterbacks, so it only makes sense that our top choice is also someone who lines up under center. Bills quarterback Josh Allen is an ideal pick for the latest installment of the video game franchise, especially after a 2020 season where he elevated into an MVP-caliber quarterback. Allen notched career-highs in passing yards and passing touchdowns last year, and had Buffalo on the brink of a Super Bowl appearance after appearing in the AFC Championship. He’s firmly in superstar status at this point in his career and Bills Mafia would certainly like to see him become the first player in franchise history to see his face — and the team’s logo — on the cover.
2. Titans RB Derrick Henry
If you’re not going to go with a quarterback for the cover, I don’t know how you could overlook Derrick Henry. In fact, there was a possible leak back in March that pointed to Henry as the cover athlete. While it remains unknown if he’ll actually see himself on this year’s cover, Henry is certainly deserving of it. At times, the big-bodied running back looks like he’s something out of a video game as he runs over defenders on almost a weekly basis. Henry has led the league in rushing for back-to-back seasons and bested every skill position player in 2020 with the most years from scrimmage (2,141). If a season where you average 126.7 rushing yards per game doesn’t get you the cover of Madden NFL, I’m not sure what will.
3. Rams DT Aaron Donald
While you may scoff at the idea of a defensive player finding his way onto the Madden NFL cover, it isn’t unprecedented at all. Richard Sherman was the last defensive player to serve as the cover athlete for the franchise in Madden NFL 15 and prior to that we saw the likes of Troy Polamalu (shared with Larry Fitzgerald, Madden NFL 10) and Ray Lewis (Madden NFL 2005) get on there as well. If you’re looking to that side of the ball for a cover athlete, there’s no player more dominant than Donald, who has been a member of the 99 Club for four straight seasons. With that in mind, there are not many other places to ascend in the game other than finally bursting onto the cover.
Top two-player cover
1. Tom Brady & Patrick Mahomes
This was the combo that everyone immediately assumed once that teaser was released earlier in the week. Of course, Tom Brady is widely referred to as the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T) and Patrick Mahomes is looked at as the next great quarterback to follow in his footsteps. So, it’s only natural to not only think there’s a possibility — or likelihood — that there are two athletes on the cover, but when EA Sports trots out an elder goat and a baby goat in the teaser it’s hard not to think of Brady and Mahomes. Both quarterbacks are no stranger to the Madden NFL cover, with Brady gracing it for Madden NFL 18 and Mahomes following suit a few years later for Madden NFL 20.
It would admittedly be a bit repetitive if this was the combo as it seems like these two were just on the cover a short time ago. Seeing as they just went toe-to-toe in last year’s Super Bowl, however, it is timely.
2. Derrick Henry & Eddie George
Yes, we’re double-dipping with Derrick Henry and that’s because I’ve concocted a theory. Maybe he is one of the two goats in EA Sports’ teaser with former Titans running back Eddie George — the first player to ever be placed on the Madden NFL cover — as the other. The teaser would still make sense under this scenario and be a nice nod to the game’s history. I also think the cameo of Peyton Hillis — the last active NFL running back to be on the cover — could be an Easter egg pointing to this outcome as well.
3. Peyton Manning & Eli Manning
This one’s admittedly a bit out there from our top two options but it does make sense when you think about it. In the past, EA Sports has given the Madden NFL cover to a non-active player (Barry Sanders in 2013 for Madden NFL 25), so they wouldn’t be breaking entirely new ground by making Peyton and Eli Manning the co-cover athletes. Despite being one of the greatest quarterbacks of his era, Peyton has never been on the cover of Madden NFL. If they were ever going to right that wrong, the year when the quarterback is set to enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame would be a solid time to do it. Also, adding in Eli would be a good gesture to the former New York Giants legend and would tie in the elder and baby goat teaser quite nicely.