Which Steelers player deserves to be on the cover of Madden 24?

Steelers, T.J. Watt
Steelers, T.J. Watt / Michael Longo/For USA Today Network /

EA Sports has had a monopoly on NFL-licenced games, and there has been a ton of backlash among Madden players in recent years due to the lack of progress the franchise has made. Regardless of how you feel about Madden, the sports game franchise routinely has one of the most anticipated releases in the nation.

In addition to being cautiously optimistic that the game will include enhanced graphics, updated movement animations, and new features, the Madden cover release is always an anticipated event. Last year, the late legend John Madden himself made graced the cover of Madden 23.

The last time a Pittsburgh Steelers player was on the cover of Madden was Antonio Brown on Madden 19. Prior to that, Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald became the first pair of football players on the cover together on Madden 10.

This year, the early rumors suggest that Bills quarterback Josh Allen will be the cover athlete for Madden 24. This decision has already been met with some controversy after Allen tied for 3rd the NFL in interceptions during the 2022 season.

Which Steelers player deserves to be on the cover of Madden 24?

Admittedly, there are years when many football teams don't have a player who is worth consideration for the Madden cover. This typically goes to an iconic player or one who is coming off an exceptional season. So is there a player on the Pittsburgh Steelers who should warrant consideration on the cover of Madden 24?

Cameron Heyward is like a fine wine -- he seems to get better with age. However, Heyward has been cast in the shadow of Aaron Donald, and as a result, he has never been considered the very best interior defender in the NFL. The fact that Donald -- a shoo-in first-ballot Hall of Famer -- hasn't been on the cover of Madden means that Heyward won't be either.

On the other hand, Minkah Fitzpatrick is considered by many to be the best safety in the NFL right now, and he's coming off his third First-Team All-Pro season. Fitzpatrick arguably had the best year of his career in 2022 despite not getting a lot of help from others on the defensive side of the ball.

The most likely Steelers candidate to land on the cover of Madden 24, however, has to be T.J. Watt. Despite his injuries over the past two seasons, Watt was once considered the very best in the league at his position and already has a Defensive Player of the Year award under his belt. Watt is incredibly well-known and well-established at this point in his career and is still on a Hall of Fame pace.

While these players may deserve to make the cover of Madden 24, this honor primarily goes to premier offensive players. In fact, since players started being used as cover images in 2001, only three defenders have ever been on the cover of Madden. These were Ray Lewis (Madden 05), Troy Polamalu (Madden 10), and Richard Sherman (Madden 15).

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The likelihood that T.J. Watt or any other current Pittsburgh Steelers player would land on the cover of Madden 24 is slim to none. This doesn't mean that they aren't deserving, but offensive players typically stand a much better chance. Perhaps there's a long shot that a player like Kenny Pickett or George Pickens could be the next Steeler to make the Madden cover at some point in the future.