Doing away with the fan voting of years past, EA Sports announced today that All-Pro New England Patriots Tight End Rob Gronkowski will be the Madden NFL 17 cover athlete. Gronkowski was in the running for the spot last year, but ultimately lost out to New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr.
As one of the most recognizable, not to mention best, players in the NFL today, it only makes sense that Gronk would adorn the cover of Madden at some point. It’s surprising to hear, though, that not only is he the first TE to be on the cover, but also the first New England Patriot.
The Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champion offered up his thoughts on what this achievement means to him in a statement released earlier today.
It’s a really special honor to appear on the cover of Madden NFL 17. It’s one of those things that pretty much every guy in the league secretly dreams of, so to actually be the one on the cover, it’s a really big deal.
As for what’s new in Madden NFL 17, besides the requisite upgrades in graphics and presentation, three different facets of the game will be improved.
After reworking the passing game last year, EA Tiburon has chosen to focus on the ground this year. New Ball Carrier Controls will let certain players utilize special maneuvers depending on their attributes. Help is also on the way for those that have trouble running the ball, as new guides will help gamers learn certain moves and how to spot openings on the line of scrimmage.
On the defensive side of the game, Madden NFL 17 will feature a New Defensive AI System that is based off of the latest NFL Strategies. Gap Play AI has your teammates react accordingly to the ground game, while Force Defenders are all about the players that try to corral the ball carrier back inside. Lastly, Zone Coverage has been given a complete makeover, as thanks to 8 new zone concepts, players will react more accordingly to the play the offense has called.
Besides the improvements seen in the run game and on defense, Special Teams will also see a few changes thrown its way. The Kick Meter has once again been changed in order to further replicate the pressure modern NFL kickers face, and coaches will now be able to ice the kicker, which rarely works in real-life, but is almost always a part of the game.
Madden NFL 17 is currently scheduled to launch on August 23 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. However, EA Access will have the option to play the game for a limited time prior to its official release.