PITTSBURGH -- Antonio Brown's broad NFL appeal just got a serious boost.
The Pittsburgh Steelers' All-Pro receiver is the cover athlete for the video game "Madden 19," EA Sports announced Wednesday.
The cover features a helmetless and smiling Brown, which is a departure from the action shots on recent Madden covers. It's a fitting tribute to Brown, who is constantly smiling on and off the field.
"To be on the cover is a real honor I've wanted to always have because I have so much connection with the game," said Brown, an All-Pro receiver the past four seasons and runner-up to Todd Gurley as NFL Offensive Player of the Year in 2017. "Growing up as a kid I played Madden all the time, was being inspired by the players in the game. And now to be on the cover, it's a special feeling."
Brown has matched elite production on the field -- including an NFL-record five straight 100-catch seasons -- with marketing appeal. Brown's jersey is one of the league's top sellers. Brown has endorsed products for AT&T/DirecTV, Campbell's Soup, Pepsi, Nike, NFL Sunday Ticket and more.
"Since Day 1, everything I do is business-savvy," Brown told ESPN in 2017 about his off-field appeal. "I'm a walking-around business. I'm not just an athlete or a football player. I'm a walking-around business. I have to conduct myself in such a way."
The only surprise about Brown being on the Madden cover is it took so long for him to get there.
"There's a lot of milestones athletes dream of," he said, "and after being inducted into the Madden 99 Club earlier this year, and now appearing on the cover of this year's games, it's clear that business is not just booming, but I'm also among the all-time greatest with these honors."
Brown believes the Steelers can be a great team this season and that Le'Veon Bell's potential holdout won't be a detriment. Just like last year, when Bell didn't reach a long-term contract and also played under the franchise tag, Brown figures even if the star running back reports in September, he'll have his usual impact.
"I think he is going to be excited, he's a great player and understands whatever he needs to do to be a great player," Brown said. "He will be ready to do whatever he has to do.
"We're definitely good enough to win the Super Bowl this year, we got all the goods, all the right people," Brown added. "We just have to make sure we do it right."
One thing Brown does right, according to his peers throughout the league and to NFL fans, is celebrate his big plays. He claims his dances and moves aren't pre-planned and that they come to him "naturally, however you feel."
He's eager for those gyrations to be highlighted in Madden.
"AB has taken the league by storm the past few years and is arguably one of the best wide receivers to ever play in the NFL," said Josh Rabenovets, senior brand director at EA Sports. "His game is hot, he's got a ton of personality on and off the field. He was an easy choice for the Madden NFL 19 cover."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.