This year, EA Sports decided to leave the decision of who would appear on the cover to the fans. They put it to a vote via their Facebook fan page. Fans could choose from four worthy candidates—with one glaring omission.
The 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, which goes to the nation’s best college football player, wasn’t among the candidates.
It just so happens that this player, Auburn’s Cam Newton, was involved in a pay-to-play scandal where it was determined that his father had requested $180,000 for his son to play at Mississippi State. It also came to light during the season that the reason Newton left Florida a couple of years ago (prompting the move to Auburn), involved another scandal in which he was arrested for stealing a laptop computer.
EA has previously put wrongdoers on its covers. Reggie Bush, who had to relinquish his 2005 Heisman Trophy after a similar pay-to-play scandal at USC, was on the NCAA Football 2007 cover. Michael Vick graced the cover of the company’s wildly successful Madden NFL Football series long before he was convicted of charges relating to animal cruelty.
So, was this a play by EA Sports to avoid paying a controversial (yet undeniably talented) athlete a hefty sum to appear on its cover?