Cam Newton loses 'Madden' cover vote

Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin smiled bashfully when asked if he had played quarterback Cam Newton in the Madden video football game.

"Ok, I've got to confess," the former Florida State wide receiver said this week. "He beat me."

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound rookie paused, then added, "He beat me bad. He beat me by 21 points."

Newton prides himself on having a lethal pair of thumbs when it comes to the video game, but that wasn't enough to get him past Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the "Madden 15" cover vote finals that ended Friday.

Sherman won fairly convincingly, denying Newton in the finals for the second time since the Panthers made him the first pick of the 2011 draft.

At least it didn't come down to a few votes. Then Newton could have blamed head coach Ron Rivera, who told ESPN.com he voted for "the opposition" multiple times because he wanted to avoid the curse that often befalls the cover winner.

The good news for Newton is he is only 25, so there will be other opportunities to grace the cover.

That he has made the cover vote finals twice also is good news. That means he's popular among the fans and considered the face of the Carolina organization even if he's not the face of Madden.

That is a positive for a player who, until Carolina's 12-4 2013 season, was questioned about whether he could come out from under his Gatorade towel on the sideline and be a leader.

And win.

Winning on the field is what it's ultimately about, which is why Rivera didn't want to take any chances with the cover curse. Newton would admit the same.

Spending time on and off the field with Benjamin while he recovers from offseason ankle surgery will help that cause.

"We're just building that trust, letting him know that I'll be there always ... bad ball, good ball, I'll make it right," said Benjamin, who spent the Memorial Day Weekend at Newton's home in Atlanta.

But you know Newton wanted the cover badly. Even Benjamin could see that.

"I voted for him, so I really want him to make it on the cover," he said when the vote remained in question. "I think he would be so happy. He's a big Madden fan."