Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has put up statistics at every level that pundits have described as 'video game numbers'.
Now he will be the next featured athlete on the most successful football video game of all time.
The reigning MVP confirmed that his likeness would be on the cover of Madden NFL 21 on Tuesday in a video posted on the team's Twitter feed.
The venerable video game franchise produced by EA Sports has sold over 130 million copies since its inception in 1988 and trails only the company's FIFA offering as the best-selling sports video game franchise ever.
Jackson's 2019 MVP campaign and multi-faceted skillset – the kind that translates best to gaming and endears him to younger fans – made him a clear choice to be the series' next cover athlete.
Legendary announcer John Madden, who the game is named after, was on the cover for its first dozen years, but ever since Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George appeared on Madden NFL 2001, the Madden cover has served as a time capsule of the hottest names in the sport, year-by-year.
Some fans, however, have come to believe in a 'Madden curse', which dooms the cover athlete to a poor or injury-prone season the year that the game is released.
Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper had his passer rating drop nearly 15 points from the previous season while on the cover of Madden NFL 02, and Michael Vick started just four games for the Atlanta Falcons while gracing the cover of Madden NFL 04.
Donovan McNabb missed seven games in 2005, Shaun Alexander's yards from scrimmage dropped by over 1,000 from 2005 to 2006, and Vince Young managed just nine touchdown passes to 17 interceptions in 2007 – and so the list continues.
Jackson, however, does not buy into such a superstition, pointing out that the Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes was on the cover of Madden 20 after his MVP campaign and went on to win the Super Bowl in February.
“I'm not worried about a curse,” Jackson said. “Patrick Mahomes was on the front, he won [the Super Bowl] MVP, so I'll want that curse. I hope that's the curse.”
Jackson, 23, is coming off an unprecedented season in which he passed for 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions and gained a quarterback-record 1,206 yards on the ground with seven rushing touchdowns.