Antonio Brown is the newest NFL superstar gracing the cover of EA Sports' Madden. Really one of the highest honors a current player can achieve. You belong to the elite elite in NFL history when you make this esteemed fraternity. Think of the names: Tom Brady. Ray Lewis. Peyton Hillis. Wait, who? Oh yes, Clevelanders filled the ballot box in 2011 to get their yearlong miracle of going back on the cover. You know, it was a tough decade (or six) for the Browns fans. I let that slide a slide.
But do not leave that out of AB. One of the best recipients in the game. I would say that in the last 20 years it was best. And yes, I saw Randy Moss playing. Look, we talked about it before. We will not use it up again now. But let us just say that it is a great honor for Antonio Brown.
And it made me think: Who are some other superstars who could receive this honor next year? Here are five likely candidates for the front "Madden 20":
1) Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
Los Angeles is the place for sports. We have the best player in Major League Baseball, Mike Trout. We have LeBron James. And we have the best run back in the NFL. (Do not @ me.) Gurley comes from a season where he has 2,093 all-purpose yards and scored 19 total touchdowns – both tops in the NFL. He's just starting on Sean McVay's offense. And with these Hollywood connections, I have Gurley as the early favorite for next season.
2) Deshaun Watson & DeAndre Hopkins, QB & WR, Houston Texans
A combined cover is not without its example. Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald shared the spot for "Madden 10". But that would be the first time that a few teammates adorn a cover. And I can not imagine a better tandem right now. In just seven games, Watson threw for 1,699 yards, scoring 21 touchdowns. In the last five starts of Watson, he combined Hopkins with a whopping seven points. There is a lot of excitement for the Texans this season, but the haters doubt that Watson will be able to return and copy his success. I am not one of these people.
3) Jalen Ramsey, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Ramsey wandered into EverBank Field after the Jaguars' victory over the Steelers in the Divisional Round in January, and told the raucous crowd to bring them as they go to the Super Bowl and that [female dog] would win. And he immediately became one of my favorite players. For example, when Rocky Maivia became "The Rock" on August 8, 1997. Of course, the rock was mocked by the WWE crowd tonight, while Ramsey was praised by fans in Duval County, Florida. But I think you understand that.
4) Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
Kamara was a true superstar during his freshman days with the Saints. Some expect a fall. Compared to Gurley, who fought in the second grade, I think that can happen here. But wait … (writes notes) No, Jeff Fisher was not employed by the saints during the off season! So instead I'll bet on one of the best offensive callers on the planet who's getting the most out of Kamara this season. Besides, I have already applied to take him to Club 99.
5) Jimmy Garoppolo, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Stop if you've heard that before, but … Jimmy G has never done it, lost an NFL game he started. If you look at just the numbers and the trends, you could argue that he is 16-0 this season. It would be stupid, but you could do it. But I think Garoppolo will thrive under Kyle Shanahan and set up the numbers to bring his name to the conversation. I mean, he's getting more and more popular. In fact, he sells more merch than Le Veon Bell.
Episode Adam Rank on Twitter @adamrank.