Madden's fifth annual cover vote trims down to just 16 players

A slimmed down version of Madden NFL's cover campaign is now underway, with fans being asked to vote on 16 candidates, tournament style, to determine who stars on the cover of Madden NFL 15 this year.

Once again, ESPN is hosting the vote at There will be four rounds of voting, ending in an announcement of the winner on the 6 p.m. SportsCenter airing Friday, June 6.

First-round voting comprises two "regions" of eight seeds, and of the top four seeds, three are quarterbacks, including No. 1 seed Cam Newton of Carolina. The other No. 1 seed is cornerback Richard Sherman of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.

None of the 16 players have appeared on a Madden cover before, though several have been a part of the March Madness-style contest in years past, which ballooned to a field of 64 in 2012 and 2013. The first fan-voted cover was for Madden NFL 11, in which New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was picked from a field of three candidates.

Sherman's high seeding notwithstanding, only one defensive player has starred by himself on the cover of Madden — Ray Lewis, ten years ago, for Madden NFL 2005. (Troy Polamalu shared the cover of Madden NFL 10 with receiver Larry Fitzgerald.) Sherman and Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly are the only defensive players in the contest this year.

Madden NFL 15 launches Aug. 26. EA Sports is still adding content to Madden NFL 25 (so named for the series' 25th anniversary year). All 32 first-round selections have been added to the pool of players in the game's popular Ultimate Team mode.

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