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Saturday, February 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski lands Madden cover

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be on the cover of GQ and Madden NFL ’17. (Steven Senne / Associated Press)
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski will be on the cover of GQ and Madden NFL ’17. (Steven Senne / Associated Press)

Just call him America’s cover model.

Shortly after New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced that he’ll be on the cover of GQ in June, Electronic Arts revealed that he’s on the cover of Madden NFL ’17, the company’s 28-year-old video game franchise.

“He’s at the top of the list of any fanbase, regardless of city,” said Josh Rabenovets, senior director of Electronic Arts’ global product marketing. “He represents everything this sport aspires to be: fun, determined, energetic. He’s very disciplined and very powerful and that’s the NFL.”

The company announced Gronkowski during a special appearance on ESPN Thursday evening.

“Madden is very much a culture,” Rabenovets said. “There are more eyes looking at Madden now than ever and they are curious about who will be on the cover. There is a lot of hype.”

Few video games receive as much scrutiny and attention for their covers as this series.

In 2000, the huge video game franchise, now produced in Maitland, called an audible for Madden NFL 2001.

For the first time, a professional player graced the cover – instead of Madden himself – with then-26-year-old Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George landing the spot. The Ohio State University alum was coming off a season in which he rushed for 1,304 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.

Ever since, Electronic Arts has introduced new twists to how they pick a cover athlete.

They have conducted bracket-style online tournaments using fan votes – much to Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis’ surprise and appreciation in 2011. In other years, EA took votes on a predetermined list of finalists.

And, in other years, they have gone with the “we choose” strategy where they simply choose the cover athlete. That’s how they chose Gronkowski.

Rabenovets explained the company’s departure from fan-based voting pretty simply.

“It’s an election year so the one election you won’t have to worry about is the cover of Madden,” he said. “We’ll take care of that.”

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