The Cover Athlete for Madden NFL 12 is Peyton Hillis of the Cleveland Browns

We are one step close to the August 30, 2011 release date of Madden NFL 12. After five weeks and over 12 million fan votes, Cleveland Browns’ running back Peyton Hillis is the athlete who will be gracing the cover of Madden NFL 12. Last year, for Madden 11, EA Sports let the fans vote on who they wanted on the cover from a select group of athletes. This year, the video game developer picked a representative from each of the 32 NFL teams and seeded them in an elimination tournament that was decided again by fan voting.

Hillis defeated the likes of Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs’ running back Jamal Charles and Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers en route to finally defeating the Philadelphia Eagles’ QB, Michael Vick in the championship round.

The final vote wasn’t as close as you’d think with Hillis winning over Vick to the tune of 66% to 34%. When announced on SportsNation on ESPN, Hillis appeared to get emotional and gave host Michelle Beadle a creepy hug. Congratulations Cleveland Browns fans, you finished first in something! Since the Cleveland Browns already appear to be cursed, it is yet to be determined how the infamous “Madden Curse” will affect the team and/or Hillis. Does cursing a previously-cursed team reverse a curse?

The cover image featured at the top left of this article is just something we mocked-up and not the official cover. I’m sure we will see the final version within the next few days.

This is the second time in the two years that EA Sports has opened the featured athlete to fan voting, that a lily-white face graces the cover. Coincidence? You decide.

Stay tuned for our continuing news coverage of the release of Madden NFL 12, ending with a hand-on review at the end of the summer as the release date gets closer.