"Old school" won out over "new school."
The vote, which came down to perhaps the most elusive running back in NFL history against the powerful and speedy Peterson, was announced Wednesday night on "SportsNation" on ESPN2.
Sanders won by garnering 58 percent of the more than 700,000 votes cast on the final matchup. There were 40 million votes tallied throughout the entire competition.
"Congrats to my guy Barry Sanders for winning the 2013 Madden Cover! Any other guy to take me down... it would've been a problem! Salute," Peterson wrote on Twitter.
This year marks the 25th edition of the ultra-popular video game. The final vote was reflective of EA Sports' celebration of legends and current players.
The victory also made it back-to-back Detroit Lions on the cover after wide receiver Calvin Johnson won last year. Johnson snapped the stigma of the "Madden Curse" in 2012, breaking Rice's NFL single-season receiving yards mark.
Sanders, 44, spent his entire 10-year career with the Lions, rushing for 15,269 yards and 99 touchdowns before stunningly walking away after the 1998 season.
Sanders and Peterson are linked, as each rushed for more than 2,000 yards in a season. Sanders rushed for 2,053 yards in 1997 while Peterson just missed breaking Eric Dickerson's single-season mark last season, running for 2,097 yards.
It's the second time that Sanders will grace the cover of the game. He also was featured in an action shot in the background of the "Madden NFL 2000" cover.