After nearly 20 million votes, Calvin Johnson beat Cam Newton for the honor of appearing on “Madden 13.” • Megatron gallery | Final vote
Johnson, who won by garnering 52 percent of the more than 651,000 votes cast in the competition, said he was “shocked” by the decision.
“Man, it’s great,” a smiling Johnson said. “Just to see yourself on this Madden (cover) and seeing all the guys that have been on Madden? C’mon, man.”
Although hugely popular, the video game carries the stigma of a “Madden Curse.”
Running back Peyton Hillis, then a member of the Cleveland Browns, won the fan vote last year, but was plagued by injuries and controversy in a hectic 2011 season. Hillis said before winning the “Madden NFL 12” cover that he wasn’t afraid of the curse, but after rushing for just 587 yards last season, Hillis said in December that he now believes in the cover jinx.
Johnson is coming off a spectacular season in which he caught 96 passes for a league-best 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. He became the third player in NFL history with at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a season, joining Jerry Rice and Randy Moss.
The Lions, who made the playoffs last season for the first time in a dozen years, rewarded the former No. 2 overall pick with an eight-year deal worth up to $132 million dollars in March.
Joe Faraoni for ESPN.comCalvin Johnson, center, won the Madden cover by garnering 52 percent of the more than 651,000 votes cast in the competition.
Newton set the NFL on fire in his rookie season despite taking a crash course in mastering an NFL offense after a lockout wiped out most of the offseason. After being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in last April’s draft, the quarterback that led Auburn to its first national title revitalized the Panthers, setting an NFL record for rushing touchdowns in a season by a quarterback (14) and becoming the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 in the same year.
The former Heisman Trophy winner was then named the AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after the season.