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Madden NFL 16 cover vote will put a Giant, Steeler, Cardinal or Patriot on the box

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Madden NFL 16 publisher Electronic Arts is running a four-way vote for the game's cover, and interested parties can vote by playing Madden, the company announced today.

This year's candidates are New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.; Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Antonio Brown; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson; and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. None of them have appeared on the Madden box before. EA is continuing its trend of scaling back the field of potential cover athletes — the 2013 cover vote featured 64 NFL players, past and present, while EA trimmed the choices to just 16 last year.

EA is still partnering with ESPN for the voting campaign. But instead of directing people to ESPN's website, EA is sending them to its own games first. Interested parties can vote once per day by playing Madden NFL Mobile, which is available on Android and iOS, and can complete in-game events to earn additional votes. They can also play Madden Ultimate Team, the popular fantasy-team mode in Madden NFL 15 and its predecessors. Players get one vote for logging in to Ultimate Team, and can do solo challenges to pick up three more.

Voting on the current crop of four stars runs for the next week, concluding May 11, and EA will reveal the two finalists the following day. The second and final round of voting will take place on ESPN's website Wednesday, May 13, and the winner will be announced on that day's 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter.

In a press release announcing the cover vote, EA hinted that its four choices point to developer EA Tiburon's areas of focus for Madden NFL 16. Referring to the athletes as "highlight-making machines," EA said the game's "intuitive new tools for quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs bring the passing game to new levels."

Madden NFL 16 will be available Aug. 25 on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One.

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