REDWOOD CITY, Calif., – March 21, 2012 – Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) and ESPN announced today the 32 fan-selected NFL players who will advance in the EA SPORTSMadden NFL 13 Cover Vote.  The announcement follows a two week play-in round, during which time fans voted between two teammates in matchups for each NFL team on the SportsNation Facebook page.  Today, winners from each matchup moved on to the official cover vote bracket.  Fans can vote for their favorite cover athlete candidate from their computer or mobile phones at ESPN.com/MaddenVote through April 25.

To kick off the Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote bracket debate, a SportsNation “Madden Cover Vote Special” will air tonight on ESPN 2 from 6-7 p.m. ET.  Every Wednesday throughout the campaign, fans can tune in to SportsNation at 5 p.m. ET for an in-depth discussion about the latest voting results and to see which players have advanced to the next round. The tournament will culminate with the reveal of the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete on SportsNation on April 25, the night before the 2012 NFL Draft.

The results of the Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote play-in round are:

Play-In Round Winners

Arizona Cardinals Larry Fitzgerald Miami Dolphins Reggie Bush
Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan Minnesota Vikings Jared Allen
Baltimore Ravens Ray Rice New England Patriots Rob Gronkowski
Buffalo Bills Stevie Johnson New England Patriots Brandon Lloyd*
Carolina Panthers Cam Newton New Orleans Saints Drew Brees
Chicago Bears Matt Forte New York Giants Victor Cruz
Cincinnati Bengals A.J. Green New York Jets Darrelle Revis
Cleveland Browns Joe Haden Oakland Raiders Sebastian Janikowski
Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware Philadelphia Eagles LeSean McCoy
Denver Broncos Tim Tebow Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu
Detroit Lions Calvin Johnson San Diego Chargers Antonio Gates
Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers San Francisco 49ers Patrick Willis
Houston Texans Arian Foster Seattle Seahawks Marshawn Lynch
Indianapolis Colts Dwight Freeney Tampa Bay Buccaneers LeGarrette Blount
Jacksonville Jaguars Maurice Jones-Drew Tennessee Titans Chris Johnson
Kansas City Chiefs Dwayne Bowe Washington Redskins Brian Orakpo

*Entered the Madden NFL 13 Cover Vote play-in round representing the St. Louis Rams.

Among the 32 players are past Super Bowl winners including Victor Cruz and Aaron Rodgers; perennial Pro Bowl players Larry Fitzgerald and Drew Brees; and some of the most dominant players in the NFL such as Troy Polamalu and Jared Allen.  During the first ever play-in round, fan voting resulted in upsets like LeSean McCoy surpassing Michael Vick who was a finalist in last year’s award-winning Madden NFL 12 Cover Vote competition.

“Every football fan has an opinion on who should be on the Madden NFL cover, which was highly visible given the overwhelming response and debate that ensued during last year’s campaign. We’re proud to once again put the fate of the game’s cover in our fans’ hands and let them decide who is worthy of becoming the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete,” said director of marketing Anthony Stevenson. “Our collaboration with ESPN and SportsNation helped elevate the campaign to new heights last year and we’re thrilled to team up again on this award-winning program.”

“Sports fans are embracing the new structure of the Madden NFL 13 cover vote and the response has been tremendous for the play-in round, which gives each team’s fans an increased voice in the player selected for the vote,” said Jamie Horowitz, Vice President, Original Programming and Production, ESPN.  “SportsNation has the most engaged social audience across the ESPN network, and enabling them to share their votes across Facebook was an ideal way to tap into some of football’s most passionate fans.”

The Madden NFL 13 cover vote marks the third-consecutive year that EA SPORTS has asked fans to help shape the face of the Madden NFL franchise through a cover athlete voting campaign.  It also marks the second year of its collaboration with ESPN and SportsNation.  Last year, nearly 13 million votes were logged through ESPNSportsNation.com online and via the mobile web, the most ever for an ESPN cross-platform activation, which witnessed 10th seeded Peyton Hillis (Browns, RB) winning the honor to grace the cover of Madden NFL 12.

To ensure their favorite player advances to the next round of this year’s competition, fans are encouraged to vote daily and tweet their picks using #MyMaddenCoverVote on Twitter. Beginning March 22 at 9:00 a.m. ET, fans can also visit the Madden NFL Facebook page to fill out their own Madden NFL 13 cover athlete bracket to compete against their friends for the chance to win Super Bowl tickets and copies of Madden NFL 13. Visit www.facebook.com/EASPORTSMaddenNFL for Official Rules.

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Editor-in-Chief and Founder of GamingShogun.com