The votes are tallied, and Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis has been chosen as the cover athlete of Madden NFL 12. In the final round of fan voting, Hillis beat out Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick by a 66-34 margin. In previous rounds, Hillis toppled Ray Rice (Baltimore Ravens), Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons), Jamaal Charles (Kansas City Chiefs), and even Super Bowl XLV MVP Aaron Rodgers (Green Bay Packers).
EA Sports held a photo shoot and fan event in New York City's Times Square. One of those photos will be used for the cover of the game, which is set to launch on August 30 whether the actual NFL has a season or not.
"This has been a humbling experience and I want to thank all the fans in Cleveland and throughout the country that got behind me and voted each and every week," said Hillis in the announcement. "I've been playing Madden NFL for ten years, and it's a dream to know that I'll be on the cover of this great game. I'm looking forward to another big season with the Browns to show fans how much we appreciate them."
EA Sports also took the opportunity to brag on some of this year's new features, including improvements to the collision and defensive AI, a new progression system in Superstar mode, a trading card meta-game called "Ultimate Team," and the inclusion of the oft-requested custom playbooks.