Richard Sherman, the leader of the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense which made the difference during Super Bowl XL, beat out Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton for the cover honors of Madden NFL 15. ESPN and EA partnered to host a Madden Cover bracket tournament of 16 footballers in contention for the honor. A record 10 million EA Sports and ESPN fans voted for over the course of the tourney, which ultimately saw the defensive back win over the quarterback – which breaks a 10-year reign of offensive players on the cover of the bestselling video game. We sat down with Sherman immediately after he shot the cover photo.
Q: It had to have been intense, being on SportsCenter when it was announced that fans voted you onto the cover and fans were screaming?
A: It felt great. Obviously, Cam [Newton] was very deserving as well, but it felt tremendous, man. It felt like we have won something, like we won a big time reward for Legion of Boom again.
Q: How does it feel to be on the cover of Madden NFL 15?
A: Terrible, waste of time… I’m just messing with you. It’s a blessing, a great accomplishment, something you’d never expect. It’s a game you play as a kid. Shoot, it feels like you made it.
Q: How does it compare to winning a Super Bowl?
A: It’s up there, man, because Madden is one of those games that everybody plays and you’ve always played it so to get the cover it’s one of those things that lives on forever in the history books.
Q: It’s been 10 years since a defensive player has been on the cover. What do you think?
A: I think that’s too long. That’s a long hiatus and they’re just being rude by not putting any defensive players. They should go 10 years straight of defense on Madden.
Q: Madden is very lifelike, is it weird to see a digital version of yourself?
A: It is sometimes. You think, “Oh man, I’m not that ugly.” And then you’re like, “Aahh, you are.”
Q: Did you play Madden a lot as a kid?
A: I did. I played Madden on Sega when they still had Madden on the cover.
Q: How different is the game now compared to then?
A: Well, he says a lot less “booms.” Madden used to just say “BOOM, BOOM!”
Q: What’s your favorite go-play in Madden?
A: I’m like a young lady, I like to deep ball. You know ladies love the deep ball. That’s why they watch the game.
Q: When you play Madden do you play anyone other than Seahawks?
A: No, I told myself when I was a kid if I every made it on one of these video games I’d never play as anybody else, so I don’t play as anybody else.
Q: When did you realize Madden had become a pop culture phenomenon?
A: Probably in high school, when it was a huge fad. Everybody was playing Madden. When they first started the online gaming, you realized how huge it was. It was 30 million people online or something like that. Now it’s like a billion.
Q: What if Madden Richard Sherman has a better year than real Richard Sherman?
A: I’m sure there’s been some Madden Richard Shermans that had better years.
Q: Would you be jealous?
A: Not really, it’s the brand. We’re winning. We’re winning somewhere.
Q: Is Madden popular amongst the Seahawks? Is there a lot of trash talk?
A: Yeah, Earl Thomas and the Legion of Boom are all big Madden players. Yes, they trash talk all day. They would never let you live it down if you get blown out, that’s trouble.
Q: A new draft class is coming into the NFL this year. Given the real NFL playbooks in the Madden game, do you think Madden could help rookies acclimate to the NFL?
A: With some of the playbooks and some offenses I don’t think Madden really has a grasp of what they are actually doing. And some playbooks they are really on point. So for some rookies it would probably be great for them to get on Madden for a little bit.
Q: If you’re playing Madden and Richard Sherman drops an easy interception, do you yell at him?
A: Yes I do. I’m very upset with him. No, I’m very upset with Madden because that’s not realistic.
Q: What advice would you give to someone playing as the Seahawks in Madden?
A: Run the ball, play man coverage in defense, don’t blitz a lot, Legion of Boom.
Q: Is there anything you would like to see EA Sports add to the next Madden game?
A: Yeah, no letting Richard Sherman drop picks that’s number 1. Number 2 is bringing back the 1-on-1 receiver vs. DB drill, but also improve the Superstar mode. I think that they’re a little lazy on that part of the game. They hype it up like its going to be some crazy deal, but if you can really get into it, it can be a really fun deal. You know, put the contracts in there and the negotiations. And actually let them play different positions because you can’t play corner with the camera on the quarterback and you can’t play linebacker. So I think they dropped the ball on that one.