Madden NFL 2000 (1999)
Barry Sanders, Detroit Lions
Sanders is one of the greatest running backs ever, but his unexpected and controversial retirement came in July 1999, meaning he never set foot on the field after landing on “Madden.” His departure was so shocking that EA used the Packers’ Dorsey Levens for the cover of an alternative and European version of the game, which was a slap in the face to many Lions fans.
Madden NFL 2001 (2000)
Eddie George, Tennessee Titans
George rushed for more than 1,500 yards in his cover year, but also lost a career-high number of fumbles, coughed up the ball in the Titans’ season-ending playoff game and never averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry for the rest of his career.