Last week, the race to be the latest Madden cover athlete was down to four finalists. Yesterday, the field was further narrowed down to two. Finally, the dramatic announcement was made on today's afternoon edition of ESPN's SportsCenter. New York Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. was named the Madden NFL 16 cover athlete, beating out New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski.
Last year wasn't very pretty for New York Giants fans, having had to watch Eli Manning lob up an outrageous number of interceptions. But one of the lone bright spots was Beckham's rookie campaign, one that saw him rack up 91 receptions, 1,305 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He also made one incredible catch that will be on highlight reels for years to come.
As mentioned in the past, the history of Madden cover athletes has not been a kind one, despite SportsCenter's best attempt to downplay the phenomenon during tonight's broadcast. The so-called "Madden Curse" has claimed a number of previous Madden cover athletes, like Ray Lewis, Donovan McNabb, and Troy Polamalu. Even the ones that played out the full season, like Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson, didn't come out completely unscathed. Madden NFL 15 cover athlete, Seattle Seahawks CB Richard Sherman, came very close to beating the Madden Curse before he suffered an elbow injury in the NFC Championship Game that lingered all the way through the Super Bowl.
Whether Beckham plays a full 16 games remains to be seen, but on this day, the Giants have beaten the Patriots yet again. It's a loss that may have some Patriots fans feeling somewhat deflated.
As for the game itself, EA Sports released a first glimpse of Madden NFL 16, which can be seen below.