Peyton Hillis Riding White Running Back Mystique to Madden Cover Vote Semis

Unlike past years when the cover of the popular John Madden football video game was selected by EA Sports, this year they chose to have the cover determined by a vote. Sports Nation has hosted a 32-player March Madness-style tournament (one athlete per team) to determine who will end up on the cover of the game. They’re down to the semifinals and the four remaining players are Aaron Rodgers, Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, and Peyton Hillis. Ask yourself one question: which athlete does not belong?

In that group, we have a Super Bowl MVP, the MVP runner up, a four-time Pro Bowler, and a guy who has 1,574 career yards and 17 touchdowns. The guy with the fewest accolades out of that group is by far Peyton Hillis.

Don’t get me wrong, Peyton Hillis was pretty outstanding last year until getting hurt, but he really doesn’t belong with those three just yet. Those other three guys are stars in the game while Hillis has had one good year. And his one good year wasn’t even as good as say, Arian Foster’s one good year. So how did he end up in the semifinals of this tournament?

There are probably three factors at work: one, you could argue his draw was weak. Two, the Cleveland Browns have an excellent and passionate fan base that helped drive the vote, or three, Hillis has gained national popularity because of his status as the rare white running back.

I think all three factors were involved. Hillis has matched up against Ray Rice, Matt Ryan, and Jamaal Charles, all outstanding Pro Bowl type players, but no real superstar in the bunch. Then again, Charles beat Tim Tebow in the first round, so clearly he had plenty of support meaning it was not easy for Hillis to beat him in a vote. Next up, the Browns are extremely popular. Cleveland fans love their team and probably came hard to support Hillis. But are they more passionate and devoted than say Steelers fans whose player (Hines Ward) didn’t make it past the second round? I doubt it.

What we’re talking about now is the undeniable truth that Peyton Hillis is extremely popular because he is a rarity: a white superstar running back. Being a white back has hurt Hillis in the past because he was discriminated against, but now that he’s received an opportunity to be a featured back, he’s proven he can succeed, and he’s become a national fan favorite as a result.

10 running backs outrushed Hillis last season. Steven Jackson, Michael Turner, and Adrian Peterson all run as hard and with as much of a punishing style as he does. Maurice Jones-Drew, Chris Johnson, and Ray Rice have shown more spectacular moves and shiftiness in their rushing.

All three were eliminated in the first two rounds, all three are black.

America was waiting for a white running back, they just didn’t know it.

UPDATE: Hillis beat Rodgers in the vote and will face Michael Vick in the finals.

Around The Web

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_22UHTGZKOEWNF6WMN3QKTLKISU atl2thabay

    You’re so right. I mean if any running back deserves his slot- Its Arian Foster by far. But it’s clear Peyton Hillis is the “great white hope”, not that people shouldnt like him- But call it what it is. Same exact thing can be said about Danny Woodhead. anytime I see Hillis or Woodhead mentioned, I hear words like “blue-collar” “hard worker”, again making it seem like they must absolutely work harder than other RB’s because they’re not as talented. I simply don’t believe it. Until you do it for more than one season, you’re no superstar. Put it like this, Until people- who DON’T watch the sport, know you- You’re no superstar.

  • Anonymous

    It’s all about the guns.

  • http://larrybrownsports.com Larry Brown

    If that were the case, wouldn’t Thomas Jones win it all?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Shane-Walton/36003750 Shane Walton

    Finally there is ONE top tier running back who’s white and you’re complaining?? Why, because he’s proven himself to be an amazing running back and somehow black athletes are supposed to dominate that position? Furthermore, I don’t believe for a single solitary second that JUST because 10 backs outrushed him that he’s somehow less worthy. The man had over 1,600 total yards [rushing AND receiving]. Furthermore, I think the Madden cover should have an athlete that was a noteworthy player from the previous season, as such, Hillis is just as deserving as anyone else. No one outside the Bronco and Arkansas nations had even heard of Peyton Hillis prior to last year. He used the bare cupboard of the Browns running back stable to propel himself into the legion of top tier backs. He’s every bit deserving to be on Madden ’12.