Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up ShitS

Madden NFL 12 is the most important video game of all time, topping previous title-holder Madden 11, which usurped the title from Madden 10, etc, etc. Same game, a couple new features, and most notably, a new cover athlete. The Madden Cover jinx is a thing of the past, but it's still quite the honor.

That's why we're surprised that EA is partnering with ESPN to allow fan voting to decide the cover athlete, in a monthlong, 32-player bracket. Sure, maybe they'll rig the thing to get the obvious deserving candidate, a win. But what if it's transparent? What if the historically stupid SportsNation electorate decides this thing? Or what if a devoted group of mischief-makers champions the candidate most likely to cause a shitstorm? We proudly present the Deadspin Voters' Guide to Madden 12.

Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up Shit

•Aaron Rodgers Star young QB, Super Bowl MVP. Should definitely win. Will probably win, even if EA has to "throw out suspicious votes." But a vote for Aaron Rodgers is a vote for bland establishment. Certainly we can do better.

Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up Shit

•Michael Vick Our first, and most plausible shitstorm. Vick, you might remember, killed a bunch of dogs a while ago. Many people are still upset about this, and continue to get upset when Vick does things like make the playoffs or get booked to go on Oprah. They would presumably also get upset if Vick were to make the cover of the most prestigious only NFL video game. (Michelle Beadle's already dreading Vick's appearance on today's SportsNation.) Lots of angry loud people would make us smile. Vote Vick.

Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up Shit

•Peyton Hillis Cons: may not have staying power, like previous cover boys Vince Young and declining Shaun Alexander. Pros: is white, like previous cover boys Brett Favre and...no one else since John Madden was on the cover every year. But not as white as...

Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up Shit

•Danny Woodhead Yes, last year's second leading rusher and sixth leading receiver on a team that bowed out in its first playoff game is here. But it's more than stats. It's scrappiness, and heart, and melanin. If New England's fans are as numerous as their volume would make it appear, Woodhead could actually win this thing.

Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up Shit

•The 12th Man Now is the time when we point out something you may have already noticed: that the 12th Man isn't a football player, let alone a human being. No, it's an amorphous embodiment of something Seahawks fans believe they do that no one else does: cheer for their team. How would this be pictured on a game cover? Would they do a composite of everyone who's even been to a game? A single 300-lb silhouette to represent the average fan? Forget Vick. Vote the 12th Man, just for the foolishness.

Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up Shit

•Tim Tebow Tebow's been a cover boy before, in NCAA Football 11 (even though no college athletes were allowed to be in the actual game). If you enjoyed that, you'll enjoy not actually playing as Tebow in Madden 12, since he's still backing up Kyle Orton.

Vote For The Most Deserving Madden Cover Athlete, Or Just Stir Up Shit

•Jordan Gross You know what? Vote Jordan Gross. Put an offensive tackle on the cover of Madden.