Madden NFL 25 Cover Star Barry Sanders Gets His Game On

Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders left the sport in 1999, at the pinnacle of his game. But the Pro Football Hall of Famer remains an indelible part of football — so much so that when EA Sports and ESPN asked fans to vote for the cover athlete for Madden NFL 25 earlier this year, a record 40 million votes were tallied and propelled Sanders to beat out reigning NFL MVP Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings for the honor. Sanders talks about the impact the video game franchise has had in this exclusive interview.

What does it say about the sport that two running backs competed for the cover of the new Madden?
“This year’s Madden does a great job of capturing the running game and the running backs, who are more powerful and elusive. Being a retired running back, I thought it was very fitting going up against a new-school, future Hall of Famer like Adrian Peterson.”

What do you think has kept Madden going strong for 25 years?
“It’s not just a video game. It really gets into the nuances of the game. It gets into the language of the game, and you really get a sense for how each individual play is designed. I think people really get into how deep you can go with this game.”

What did you think of your avatar’s in-game player ratings the first time you played?
“The designers have always given me a terrific grade. There are certain things that you can do in the game that are just remarkable. I know fans loved playing with me in this game. The franchise has introduced me and guys who played in my era to a whole generation of football fans over the years.”

What was it like suiting up last year for the EA Sports Madden NFL 13 Pigskin Pro-Am in Chicago?
“It was fun. I’m not the athlete I used to be, but it was great being out there with all those guys who are still competitive in a festive venue like that.”