So, you know how Vince Young is on the cover of Madden 08, and how Chargers fans breathed deep sighs of relief? Well, according to Darren Rovell at CNBC, LaDainian Tomlinson was supposed to be the cover boy but turned it down.
Multiple industry sources have told me that Tomlinson, in fact, was asked of his interest, was presented with an offer, and told Electronic Arts he was not interested. Tomlinson's turning down of Electronic Arts, we're told, doesn't have much to do with the highly publicized curse, which has been attributed to the recent misfortune of Michael Vick, Donovan McNabb and Shaun Alexander. It has more to do with the fact that the people at Electronic Arts know that, for many, their cover is seen as the "Wheaties box endorsement" — in that athletes are usually so honored they are willing to do it for less than market value. Tomlinson wasn't.
The deal usually pays the cover athlete $100,000 to $200,000 and requires multiple appearances to pump up the game. Since the Madden game sort of sells itself, the athlete on the cover doesn't really matter that much, but expect more NFL stars to turn down the cover in the future, not because of the curse, but because the price is just too low.
Eventually, if the asking price remains too low for big stars, we're going to see a kicker on the cover. Or maybe Ethan Albright!