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Peyton Hillis beats out Michael Vick for Madden 12 cover

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Peyton Hillis

He might not enjoy the name recognition of other Peytons, but he's got the cover.

In a live announcement on ESPN's SportsNation, EA revealed that fans have chosen Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis to be the cover athlete of EA's upcoming Madden 12, wrapping up a five-week tournament that featured representatives from every NFL team.

To nab the honor, the 10th-seeded Hillis had to overcome heavily-favored stars like Super Bowl MVP Aaron Rodgers, Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan and eventual runner-up, Michael Vick, whom he trounced in a finals landslide by raking in 66 percent of the vote. Over one million fans voted in the final round.

Cleveland's rabid fans had a lot to do with Hillis' win, plastering the vote on the official Browns site and campaigning mightily through Facebook and Twitter.

"I just want to tell them thanks and I'm going to play my best for them," he said.

Provided, that is, he doesn't twist, break, or sprain something, a fate that has befallen a notable number of Madden cover athletes (including fellow finalist Michael Vick back in 2003-4.) The Madden Curse took last year off, however, as nothing particularly terrible happened to Madden 11 cover star Drew Brees.

For what it's worth, Hillis seems unperturbed.

"For people to believe in this so-called curse, I can't wait to prove people wrong," he said.

Proving people wrong is nothing new to Hillis. After being traded to Cleveland as part of a bigger deal for QB Brady Quinn, the little-known back barged his way on to the roster and ran for an impressive 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns in a breakout 2010 season.

EA has yet to reveal the official cover art featuring Hillis. Madden 12 is set to hit stores in late August.

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