By Eric Schmidt

For those of us that remember and played Atari 2600, the 25th anniversary edition of the popular video game Madden football, makes us feel really old. The game which carries the name of one of the sport’s most colorful announcers of all time is celebrating an anniversary this year. In order to commemorate the event, EA Sports, the creator of the game held a contest to see which player should adorn the cover of this year’s version of the game.

After 700,000 votes were cast via various social media outlets, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders will grace the cover of this year’s game box. There will be no need to speak of the so-called Madden curse this season, the 44-year old Sanders has been retired from the game for years.

Sanders walked away from the game abruptly after the 1999 season while he was easily within reach of the all-time rushing NFL yardage record. He finished his career with 15,269 yards, only Emmitt Smith and Walter Payton have more rushing yards. He also holds the NFL record for 14 consecutive games over 100 yards, set in 1997. He shared co-MVP honors with Packers QB Brett Farve that season.

It does surprise me that Sanders won out over current Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, garnering 58% of the vote. The vast majority of those playing the game today likely never saw Sanders play a game. For those of us which saw his entire career, Sanders was one of the most dynamic players ever to play the position despite being stuck on horrible Lions teams.

During his career, Sanders never finished a season with less than 1,115 rushing yards and finished his career with a 5.0-yard per carry average.




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