It's time for EA Sports to start its search for its next "Madden NFL" cover boy, and for a third straight year, the video game company is turning to football fans to decide who will be showcased on the box of the next installment of the popular franchise. EA Sports is doing a bracket-style fan vote to whittle down the field from 64 of the NFL's top players to one (unlucky?) cover boy.
Two Ravens players, Terrell Suggs and Ray Rice, are vying for the "Madden" cover. But they face each other in the first round, forcing fans to make a tough choice between the team's two brightest stars -- and the overwhelming vote-getters in the Baltimore media's team MVP vote -- during the 2011 season.
Suggs, the standout outside linebacker, took home the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2011 after recording 14 sacks and forcing seven fumbles -- a single-season Ravens record.
Rice led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,068 and ranked second in rushing with 1,364 yards.
Rice represented the Ravens in last year's "Madden" cover vote. He didn't make it far, though, losing by a wide margin in the first round to Cleveland Browns back Peyton Hillis, the eventual cover boy.
But if you believe in curses, you probably think it was a good idea Hillis won. Hillis, now a free agent, missed six games, averaged 3.6 yards per carry and finished the 2011 season with just 587 rushing yards.
Other former cover athletes who battled injury or ineffectiveness -- perhaps because of the fabled "Madden Curse?" -- the ensuing season include Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Shaun Alexander and Vince Young.
Ravens inside linebacker Ray Lewis was put on the "Madden NFL 2005" cover before the 2004 season. He had an All-Pro season but suffered a wrist injury and sat out the season finale as the team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs. He is the only Ravens player to have adorned the "Madden" cover.
You can change that by stuffing the ballot box for Suggs or Rice at this link -- but beware, Ravens fans.