The lights are on
With the lockout in full effect, all football fans have to pass the time is next month's NFL Draft and the tournament based poll to elect the next Madden cover athlete. Get your round two votes in now!
The biggest first-round upset may have been Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles victory over media darling and Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. Even though the former college stud and NCAA Football cover boy only started three games, his jersey sales numbers were off the charts and we expected him to be a force to contend with in the later rounds given his devoted following. The Charles win may have saved EA Sports face considering that Broncos coach John Fox already named Kyle Orton the starter, front office boss John Elway has questioned Tebow's abilities, and rumors have been circulating that the team may even draft another quarterback. If he kept moving through the voting rounds, Tebow could have become the first non-starter to appear on the cover of Madden.
The victors with the largest margins were, unsurprisingly, two Super Bowl performers with easy match-ups – Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. Here is a recap of the first round totals:
72% Aaron Rodgers / 28% Ndamukong Suh 57% Sam Bradford / 43% Larry Fitzgerald 61% Hakeem Nicks / 39% Brian Orakpo 62% Danny Woodhead / 38% Steve Johnson 66% Maurice Jones-Drew / 34% Dwight Freeney 64% Jamaal Charles / 36% Tim Tebow62% Peyton Hillis / 38% Ray Rice 89% Matt Ryan / 11% Jordan Gross 67% Philip Rivers / 33% Darren McFadden 57% Adrian Peterson / 43% Julius Peppers 55% Mark Sanchez / 45% Jake Long 56% Drew Brees / 44% Josh Freeman 76% Michael Vick / 24% DeMarcus Ware 69% Andre Johnson / 31% Chris Johnson54% Patrick Willis / 46% 12th Man72% Hines Ward / 28% Carlos Dunlap
Round two poses some interesting match-ups. One particular bracket to watch is last year's cover athlete Drew Brees taking on the young New York Jets starter Mark Sanchez, whose prankster off-the-field antics endeared him to many in last year's Hard Knocks series on HBO. Superstar-turned-convicted-felon-turned-superstar Michael Vick faces off against Houston Texans wideout Andre Johnson, who handily defeated fantasy football stud Chris Johnson in a surprising round one rout.
Who do you want to assume the Madden Curse? Head to ESPN SportsNation to place your votes for round two.
Email the author Matt Bertz, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.