Lamar Jackson couldn’t believe it when he got the call that EA Sports wanted him to be on the cover of Madden NFL 21.
“Ahh man! It’s another one I can put in the man cave. When I get my own copy of it, I am going to sign it myself and put it up. That’s how dedicated I am [laughs],” Jackson told SI in an interview over the phone in May. “I grew up playing Madden and owned every copy I could get my hands on, so to be on the cover of Madden NFL 21 is a dream come true. I don’t even remember where I was when I first learned that I will be on the cover. I was like you are lying to me. The guys at EA Sports was like ‘oh this is for real’, and I couldn’t believe it. It was a dream come true.”
Jackson actually leaked the news back in April when he told reporters in a virtual press conference that he would be on the cover. “[EA Sports] they were cool with it, but no one was supposed to know [laughs]”, said Jackson.
Madden updated Jackson’s speed rating to 96 in November, making him the fastest quarterback in the game’s history, surpassing Michael Vick in Madden NFL 2004. Jackson said in a press conference at the time that he felt that his rating was still low, but now he thinks they have it right for this upcoming game. “Yeah, they fixed it this time. I was stressing my rating last year before I even got in the game, but they fixed it.”
Jackson’s brand is rising off the field after an impressive sophomore season, where he was unanimously named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in February. He was the first player in history to pass for more than 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season and led Baltimore to a league-best 14–2 record. While nabbing the Madden cover is one thing, he is also building his own apparel brand, Era 8 Apparel. Most of his collections focus on mantras he lives by and the African Wild Dog, which he wants to shine a light on because they are one of the most endangered animals on earth. He donates a percentage of sales from the collection to help protect the species.
The only thing that is missing for Jackson is a sneaker/cleat deal with the likes of a Nike, Adidas or Under Armour whose headquarters are in Baltimore. Jackson says he is open to signing a brand deal if the right opportunity comes.
“I just keep a level head. Never thinking that I am better than someone else. I am just thankful for Madden putting me on the cover. I am always going to be me. I feel like other major brands and stuff already have their guys. I am not going to say they are cocky, but they are already made billions of dollars and they have been doing it for so long way before I was born like Nike and stuff like that. I might as well just do it myself and I love clothes and I love shoes and I want people to look at my stuff and say, ‘Oh that is different.’"
Jackson will be the first Ravens player on the cover since linebacker Ray Lewis was featured in 2005.
Madden NFL 21 launches worldwide August 28th.