SBD/April 19, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Mark Ingram To Be Featured On Cover Of EA Sports' "NCAA Football 12"

Ingram beats out three other candidates to land on cover of EA's "NCAA Football 12"
Former Univ. of Alabama RB Mark Ingram will be featured on the cover of EA Sports' "NCAA Football 12." Ingram won a fan vote, and the cover was unveiled on ESPN2's "First Take" this morning. ESPN's Ducis Rodgers said Ingram "outlasted some pretty good competition," including former Auburn Univ. DT Nick Fairley, former Univ. of Oklahoma RB DeMarco Murray and former Univ. of Washington QB Jake Locker. Ingram: "This is definitely at the top of my list just the fact that the fans voted it. They wanted to see me on the cover, so that's a tremendous honor. I'm really excited about being on the cover and representing EA Sports." Ingram said he was rated "98 overall" in the game, so it "doesn't get much better than that." Ingram: "I think they did me some good justice." Meanwhile, Ingram said he will attend the NFL Draft despite the ongoing lockout. Ingram: "It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity just to go up there to Radio City and experience that type of environment with my family and my good friends. It's definitely something I'm looking forward to and something I've been dreaming about my whole life" ("First Take," ESPN2, 4/19)

FIGHT IN THE DAWG: Browns RB Peyton Hillis yesterday completed a startling upset of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers in the semifinals of EA Sports' "Madden NFL 12" cover vote, and will face Eagles QB Michael Vick in the finals. Hillis easily defeated Rodgers, 61% to 39%, while Vick defeated Vikings RB Adrian Peterson by a similarly wide margin, 59-41%. Hillis' candidacy was vigorously supported by the Browns' front office, who sought out fan votes on ClevelandBrowns.com and via the team's social media extensions, even as the league and NFLPA remain locked in a bitter labor dispute. Vick's semifinal win extends his noteworthy, continued re-embrace by the public after his imprisonment on a felony animal cruelty conviction, and also extends his bid to be the first player to make the "Madden" cover twice. Vick, while with the Falcons, appeared on the cover of "Madden NFL 04" (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In Minneapolis, Michael Rand notes the final pits "a guy who went into last season with about 400 career rushing yards against a QB whose public profile was seemingly unfixable after his canine-related jail time." Perhaps it is a sign that "underdog stories (Hillis) and tales of redemption (Vick) resonate just as powerfully (if not more so) than tales of flat-out success." Rand: "Either way, Hillis or Vick -- as chosen by fans in voting over the next week -- will be on the cover of one of this generation's most iconic sports video games. Who would have predicted that a year ago?" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 4/19).

LET IT FLY: In Philadelphia, Jeff McLane noted there "has already been some protest over the chances of Vick winning this otherwise innocuous competition." Now he is "one nationwide vote from re-energizing both sides of the debate over the lightning rod quarterback" (PHILLY.com, 4/18). YAHOO SPORTS' Chris Chase wrote, "It's hard to imagine EA Sports had a white running back or convicted felon in mind when it started this contest. ...  I don't envy the marketing executive who has to explain to his bosses why Hillis may grace the cover or the PR person who will have to face an onslaught of criticism for celebrating Vick." Still, a Hillis win would "bring a whirlwind of positive attention to him and the game," while Vick's victory would "be accompanied by some controversy, which is not always a negative" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 4/18). EA Sports President Peter Moore last month at SBJ/SBD's IMG World Congress of Sports spoke about the "Madden" cover vote and stressed that EA will accept who fans vote for, including Vick. Moore said, “The best example for us is that we’ve actually given up control of who the cover athletes are. It’s up to the players to lobby their fans” (THE DAILY).
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