Young named Madden 08 cover athlete

Following a bang-up rookie campaign that saw him carry the undermanned Titans to a respectable 8-8 finish, Tennessee quarterback Vince Young has been chosen by EA SPORTS to be the face of Madden NFL 08.

Amid a flurry of rumors and speculations surrounding the identity of the Madden NFL 08 cover athlete, Young himself announced that he was on the cover during a live chat on ESPN.com. When asked if he was worried about the legendary Madden Cover Curse, Young replied, "I am on the cover and I am not worried about the curse."

Young started 13 games for the Titans in his first season after being selected third overall in the 2006 NFL Draft. After taking a few games to find his footing, the nimble QB led Tennessee on a six-game winning streak late in the year, pushing them on an improbable playoff charge that, despite falling just short, provides plenty of hope for the franchise's future.

After a career-defining performance in the 2006 Rose Bowl, a showdown for the national championship in which he scored the winning touchdown to lead his Texas Longhorns to a stunning 41-38 win over defending champion USC, Young's unique combination of size, strength and elusiveness led to his distinction of being the first quarterback selected in the draft. He justified the Titans' faith in his abilities by picking up steam toward the end of his rookie NFL campaign, completing over 60 percent of his passes in four of his final six games while rushing for seven touchdowns overall, including an amazing 39-yard scoring run that beat Houston in overtime in Week 14.

"To have my face on the cover of Madden, it means so much to me, my family, and my friends," Young said. "It's a phenomenal feeling, because you know everyone plays Madden. With my past and my history -- for me to get here, its means so much. It shows young kids that anybody can make it, if you work hard enough."

Young joins former Madden cover athletes Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick and
Donovan McNabb in a collection of quarterbacks that combine a good arm with serious running ability, but of the entire group, Young might have the most talent. If his rookie season is any indication, he's just begun to scratch the surface of his abilities, and the 2007 season should provide even more fireworks.

Still, of all his accomplishments, including winning the 2005 college national championship and being chosen as the 2006 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Young said that ending up on the Madden NFL 08 cover fits right in with everything else: "Man, this ranks pretty high up there with all that's happened over the last two years."

Young is scheduled to appear on the Jimmy Kimmel show tonight to formally reveal the Madden NFL 08 cover.