Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes plans to share his draft experience with other players at this year’s NFL Draft
Patrick Mahomes is already a bonafide star.
Now the Chiefs quarterback is officially the face of the NFL— at least in the video game world.
Mahomes has been selected to be on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden 20, fittingly dubbed the Superstar Edition.
“The last year has been life-changing for me and landing the cover of Madden NFL 20 is both a huge honor and a dream come true as a lifelong Madden fan,” Mahomes said in a news release. “To also get the opportunity to impact the experience in the new Face of the Franchise: QB1 by providing input on the gameplay is something I never expected. I played Madden with my dad when I was a kid, and this is definitely a full circle moment for me.”
Not only is Mahomes on the cover of this year’s game, he also inspired and contributed to the development of a new mode in the game: “Face of the Franchise: QB1.” In it, players can assume the identity of a quarterback and take him through a journey beginning with the College Football Playoff and ending with the ultimate goal of becoming a franchise quarterback.
Another new feature in this year’s game is the Superstar X-factor, which makes the stars of the NFL come to life within the game by giving them the unique abilities that make them the best at what they do, according to a release from EA Sports.
The announcement was made Thursday night, just a few minutes before Mahomes was scheduled to join ABC’s broadcast of the NFL Draft from Nashville.
Mahomes’ status as the league’s poster boy been building since the Chiefs first identified him as the successor to Alex Smith. It grew during the 2018 season as he filled highlight reels with mind-bending throws that defied logic, and it reached a crescendo with his selection as the NFL’s MVP after his first year as a starter in the league.
Building off that status, he’s formed partnerships and endorsements with some of the most recognizable brands in the country, including Oakley and Essentia water. He also launched his own charitable foundation — 15 and the Mahomies — in an appearance on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and he put out a merchandise line with a personalized logo on his website. According to a release from the NFL Players Association, Mahomes ranked fifth in merchandise sales among all players for last season.
And now, his star status is further cemented with the coveted Madden cover.
Worries of a “Madden Curse” aside, landing on the cover of the video game speaks to a player’s popularity and talent. Mahomes, of course, has both, and now joins the ranks of past high-profile players who have been featured on the cover, including Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.
With new a new chief marketing officer in Tim Ellis, the NFL is stepping up its marketing of its top athletes, pushing individual brands to help drive team engagement. This new approach marks a departure from the team- and league-centric branding that was status quo for decades.
And while the NFL doesn’t decide who appears on the cover of the EA Sports video game, for the Chiefs, landing Mahomes on Madden cover will help accomplish the NFL’s goal of using personal brands to drive consumers toward fandom of the NFL and specific teams.
“It’s incredibly important that we engage younger fans,” Ellis said. “We do that in a way that allows them to go on their own journey as opposed to trying to force them on a journey that we want them to go on.
“A player like Patrick, he’s got so much appeal to younger fans, we just want to allow access to him, allow a sense of intimacy and personal relationship with him. That’s really important.”
With Mahomes’ story inspiring Madden’s Face of a Franchise: QB1 mode, there will be an increased personal connection with the Chiefs’ quarterback, accomplishing one of the NFL’s goals.
The pre-order for Madden 20 begins Thursday. The game will be available worldwide on Aug. 2 for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Origin for PC.