There have been plenty of rumors that Lamar Jackson would be the cover athlete for the latest edition of the Madden video game. Part of the surprise was ruined after Jackson leaked a photo of the game. But on Monday, it became official.
There was a time that Jackson was sitting in the green room of the NFL Draft waiting for his name to be called. He dropped down to the 32nd pick before going to the Baltimore Ravens.
Michael Vick was one of the most comparable quarterbacks to the style of play of Jackson. When he entered the league, the Madden developers had to think how close Jackson should be to Vick’s old rating.
“Really what it came down to was, we know this guy has unreal speed,” Clint Oldenburg, a former NFL offensive lineman-turned-gameplay producer at EA Sports, told The Undefeated in November. “We know eventually he’s going to be electric. Let’s not just give away this rating that’s potentially going to unbalance the game. Let’s see what he has and make sure he earns it.”
Then right before Week 12 of the 2019 NFL season, Jackson was dealt a 96-speed rating, one point higher than Vick ever had. Last season, he was the league’s MVP, and fans knew he would be a favorite to be on the cover of Madden.
Vick paid his tribute to Jackson by presenting him with custom Nike cleats. It commemorated the all-time high in the speed attribute.
It is also appropriate that he beat Vick’s rushing record that he held for the past 13 seasons.
Jackson Belongs at QB
Since winning the Heisman Trophy as the quarterback for the University of Louisville, Jackson has had a chip on his shoulder. Many NFL experts said he couldn’t play QB and should possibly be moved to wide receiver.
He took on that challenge and led the Ravens to an AFC North Division title in 2019. Surely, the Madden cover is just another side victory for him sticking to his position.
“My manager told me Madden was interested in me being on the cover. I was very excited. That’s a kid’s dream, and I’m a grown man now,” he said in an interview with The Undisputed. “From getting drafted two years ago to winning MVP, it feels like everything has happened so fast. Now, I’m happy to be a part of this, just like all the other greats who have been on the cover.”
Jackson will be the third-youngest player ever to be pictured on the cover. That goes along with becoming the ninth quarterback and the sixth black quarterback ever to achieve this feat.
But with all of the hype around him, eyes will be on the lookout to see how he performs in 2020. The Ravens had a disappointing ending in the playoffs last year after a dominating regular season.
Jackson prepared to have the same effect this season and carry that into the playoffs.