Even with a lockout looming, there's some good news for NFL fans.
In a rather interesting move, EA Sports has teamed up with ESPN to let fans vote on the next cover athlete for Madden NFL 2012.
And in order to capitalize on the current popularity of college basketball, the vote has been set up into a bracket with different seedings.
There are two sides to the bracket with 16 players each and they are paired up based on seeding (e.g. No. 1 vs. No. 16).
For the video gamers in the Gator Nation, there are two former Florida stars in the running for the next cover of Madden.
On the left side of the bracket, there's--you guessed it--Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.
Although Tebow is just a No. 11 seed, he looks poised to make a deep run after a white hot finish to the 2010-2011 season and the fact that he is one of the NFL's most popular players.
Also, if Tebow were to win the tournament, he would become the first player to ever be featured on the cover of both of EA Sports' football games: NCAA Football and Madden NFL.
The other Gator in the running is Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who played with Tebow under Urban Meyer from 2007-2009.
Dunlap, a No. 15 seed going head-to-head with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward, recorded 24 tackles and 9.5 sacks during his rookie campaign.
While Dunlap certainly has star potential, he should just be happy to be among the 32 official nominees seeing how he faces likely defeat against a future Hall of Famer like Ward.
To vote for the Madden NFL 2012 cover athlete, click here.
Here are the voting periods for each round of the tourney:
- Opening Round: March 21-27
- Second Round: March 28 - April 3
- Third Round: April 4-10
- Semifinals: April 11-17
- Finals: April 18-25
The cover athlete for Madden NFL 2012 will be announced on ESPN2's SportsNation on April 26.