Rice in the mix for Madden cover

Who will end up on the cover of Madden 2012? For the first time, that decision is up to you, the fan.

In the spirit of March Madness, ESPN.com has set up a bracket involving a player from each of the 32 NFL teams, and they’re allowing fans to vote on who will grace the cover of the popular Madden video game this year.

Representing the Ravens is running back Ray Rice.

Rice, who made the Pro Bowl in 2009 and followed that year up with a solid 1,220-yard 2010 season, will face a division rival in his first-round matchup - he’s set to square off against Browns running back Peyton Hillis.

If Rice tops Hillis in the first round, he’d likely see No. 2 seed Matt Ryan in the second round. I’m no Madden Bracketologist (although that might be an opportunity for me to get some freelance work in on the weekends), but that seems to me like a prime opportunity for Rice to pull an upset.

Ryan as a two-seed? C’mon now.

The question is, should Ravens fans want Rice on the cover at all?

Yeah, it’d be cool to have a guy wearing the purple and black on the front of a video game which is played by millions of people worldwide. But if Rice is voted onto the cover, he’d be susceptible to the well-known “Madden curse”, which has affected countless players in the past.

Guys like Troy Polamalu, Brett Favre, Shaun Alexander, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick and Marshall Faulk have all had rough seasons or suffered injuries the year after gracing the cover of Madden.

I’ll leave the decision up to you; if you’d like to see Rice on the Madden cover, click on this link to head to the bracket and vote for the Ravens’ running back.

Or, if you’d prefer not to risk Rice getting involved in and curses or jinxes, cast your vote for Hillis and make sure Rice gets bounced from the tourney as early as possible.

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