In a bit of a shocker, Peyton Hillis bested Michael Vick and will grace the cover of Madden NFL 12.
The announcement was made on ESPN2 this afternoon.
The Browns running back, a virtual unknown a year ago, beat out the the Eagles quarterback in online voting by a 66-34 margin and was the last man standing among a 32-player field. Just over a million voted.
To get to the final round, Hillis upset Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Kansas City running back Jamaal Charles, Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and Baltimore running back Ray Rice. Vick advanced past Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, San Francisco linebacker Patrick Willis, Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson and Dallas linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
Vick, coming off a season in which he was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year, lobbied for votes on Twitter but fell significantly short. He was in line to become the first player to be on the cover of the video game for a second time. In 2004, he won. Before the start of that season he broke his leg, which many attributed to the Madden jinx. Several other players suffered injuries or had down years after they were on the cover.
A victory for Vick would have been quite the advertising comeback. He lost all of his endorsement deals following his 2007 conviction for banking and operating a dogfighting ring. Vick did recently appear in a commercial for a local Nissan dealership and signed endorsement deals with Core Synergy, which makes athletic wristbands, and Unequal Technologies, which manufactures football pading, this off-season.
Even before the final voting, the chance of Vick winning elicited criticism from animal rights groups. EA Sports received letters protesting his inclusion in the tournament.
"I haven't even heard about that," Vick told The Inquirer last week. "I really don't pay attention to what's being said by anyone, whether it's ridicule or whatever. I can't continue to respond to that. I appreciate EA sports standing tall and sticking up for me. I will continue to be positive. Let other people be negative. That's their view. They're entitled to their opinion. I won't try to change it."