Quarterback Drew Brees is looking for some homestyle protection from the people of New Orleans when he becomes the cover athlete for Electronic Arts Inc.’s latest “Madden NFL” video game.
Brees, who led the New Orleans Saints to their first Super Bowl championship in February, won a fan vote over two other National Football League players and will follow in the footsteps of peers whose fortunes sometimes plummeted after the marketing honor.
The city’s history as an American center of the voodoo religion could be useful, he joked today after being named to the cover.
“Maybe there are some people in New Orleans who, if they’re still practicing voodoo, could put a curse on the curse,” Brees said in a telephone interview. “If they’re Saints’ fans, then maybe they’ll put a copy of it in the freezer or something.”
Madden NFL is the best-selling sports video game in history, EA said. The cover also has become associated with bad luck -- several players adorning it have suffered declining performance or injuries -- since the company stopped featuring John Madden, the Pro Football Hall of Fame coach, in 1999.
Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald shared the cover of last year’s game. Polamalu played just five games in 2009 after a pair of knee-ligament injuries.
Brett Favre graced the cover a year earlier, when he tore a biceps tendon as he led the New York Jets to a 9-7 record and missed the playoffs.
Brees is the first athlete in the 22-year history of the game to be selected for the cover by fans, the Redwood City, California-based company said in a news release. Brees beat Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne in online voting. EA’s “Madden NFL 11” will be on store shelves Aug. 10.
Brees, 31, passed for 4,388 yards and a league-best 34 touchdowns last season, his ninth in the NFL.
The Saints won the first NFL title in their 43-year history by beating the Indianapolis Colts 33-17 in the Super Bowl, as Brees connected on 32-of-39 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns.
He was named the game’s Most Valuable Player and was featured holding his 1-year-old son, Baylen, on the cover of Sports Illustrated the following week. While Baylen is unlikely to be on the Madden NFL cover, he will make an appearance in the game, Brees said.
“I would have absolutely loved that, that would have been fantastic,” Brees said. “He’s kind of in the game a little bit with some footage though. I don’t want to give too much away.”
Madden, a coach turned broadcaster, retired last year after three decades of announcing NFL games. He called 11 Super Bowls and won 16 Emmy awards during his 30-year broadcasting career.
Erik Matuszewski in New York at firstname.lastname@example.org