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Patrick Mahomes becomes fifth black QB on ‘Madden 20’ cover

‘I expect my rating to be 100,’ says the NFL’s reigning MVP and Offensive Player of the Year

On third-and-goal at the 4-yard line, the San Francisco 49ers’ defense brought the pressure to Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes. But he didn’t panic. Instead, Mahomes pivoted right, spun back left to avoid a linebacker and sprinted full-speed upfield before unleashing a laser of a throw to wide receiver Chris Conley open in the back of the end zone. Touchdown, Chiefs.

Sounds like a play from a video game, right? Nah. Just a highlight from a game last September — one of the many unreal moments from Mahomes’ magical 2018 NFL season. It was his first year leading the Chiefs after backing up veteran starter Alex Smith as a rookie in 2017, when Kansas City traded up to take Mahomes out of Texas Tech University with the No. 10 overall pick in the NFL draft.

The team soon traded Smith and gave the starting job to Mahomes, who finished the 2018 regular season with 5,097 passing yards, becoming the first player to throw for 5,000 yards in a season at both the college and NFL levels. He also became just the third quarterback in NFL history (after Tom Brady in 2007 and Peyton Manning in 2013) to throw 50 touchdowns in a season. Mahomes took the Chiefs to the brink of the Super Bowl with an arsenal of on-the-run, no-look and even left-handed passes that only seemed possible on a virtual football field, with a controller and joysticks.

“Right when I came into the league, I went out and got Madden and was trying to do all the Michael Vick-type stuff.” — Patrick Mahomes

Before the start of his historic sophomore campaign in the NFL, Mahomes actually got a little bit of motivation from a video game. When he first played Madden 19, the NFL video game that debuted as John Madden Football on PC in 1988, Mahomes couldn’t believe his avatar had a rating of only 77. By the end of the actual NFL season though, Mahomes’ Madden rating had skyrocketed to 94.

On Thursday, EA Sports announced that Mahomes, the NFL’s reigning MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, is the cover athlete for Madden 20, which is set to release for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC on Aug. 2. At 23, Mahomes is the third-youngest player, behind Odell Beckham Jr. on Madden 16 and Michael Vick on Madden 2004, to grace the cover of the game. (The cover featured John Madden instead of athletes until Eddie George appeared on Madden 2001.) Mahomes is also the fifth African American quarterback to receive the honor. The others: Daunte Culpepper on Madden 2002, Vick on 2004, Donovan McNabb on Madden 06 and Vince Young on Madden 08. “When you’re a little kid,” Mahomes told The Undefeated, “you dream about being on the cover of Madden … having your picture up there.”

Take us back to the moment when you found out you’d be on the cover of Madden 20.

We were at the Pro Bowl, and EA Sports approached me. We had a meeting, and there was an awesome PowerPoint

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Aaron Dodson is a sports and culture writer at The Undefeated. He primarily writes on sneakers/apparel and hosts the platform’s “Sneaker Box” video series. During Michael Jordan’s two seasons playing for the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s, the “Flint” Air Jordan 9s sparked his passion for kicks.