Time Capsule: The EA Sports NCAA Football Cover Athletes

There will be no EA Sports NCAA Football 15 next year, and the video game company is currently reviewing the future of the long-running franchise. The news broke in a somber statement released Thursday afternoon, citing the ongoing legal battle with former players over use of their likeness.

Each player who has appeared in the football and basketball game marketed by EA since 2003 -- Dennis Dodd estimates that as approximately 125,000 men --  is eligible for settlement money. The NCAA and EA Sports are beginning the process of navigating the legalities of such a settlement, but EA Sports is done making college football games, we want to say our farewell. Below is a review of the cover athletes for each edition of the NCAA Football. 

NOTE: This list begins with the first edition of NCAA Football, which followed Bill Walsh College Football '95 and two editions of the College Football USA game.

College Football USA 97: Nebraska Cornhuskers QB Tommie Frazier


NCAA Football 98 -- Cover Athlete: Florida Gators QB Danny Wuerffel

NCAA Football 99 -- Cover Athlete: Michigan Wolverines DB Charles Woodson

NCAA Football 2000 -- Cover Athlete: Texas Longhorns RB Ricky Williams

NCAA Football 2001-- Cover Athlete: Alabama Crimson Tide RB Shaun Alexander

NCAA Football 2002 -- Cover Athlete: Florida State Seminoles QB Chris Weinke

NCAA Football 2003:  -- Cover Athlete: Oregon Ducks QB Joey Harrington

NCAA Football 2004:  -- Cover Athlete: Southern California Trojans QB Carson Palmer

NCAA Football 2005:  -- Cover Athlete: Pittsburgh Panthers WR Larry Fitzgerald

NCAA Football 06:  -- Cover Athlete: Michigan WR Desmond Howard

NCAA Football 07:  -- Cover Athlete: USC RB Reggie Bush

NCAA Football 08 -- Cover Athlete: Boise State Broncos QB Jared Zabranksy

NCAA Football 09:  -- Cover Athletes: California Golden Bears WR DeSean Jackson/ Boston College Eagles QB Matt Ryan/ West Virginia Mountaineers FB Owen Schmitt/Sparty/ Arkansas Razorbacks RB Darren McFadden

NCAA Football 10:  -- Cover Athletes: Texas DE Brian Orakpo/ Utah Utes QB Brian Johnson/USC QB Mark Sanchez/ Texas Tech Red Raiders WR Michael Crabtree

NCAA Football 11:  -- Cover Athlete: Florida QB Tim Tebow

NCAA Football 12:  -- Cover Athlete: Alabama RB Mark Ingram

NCAA Football 13:  -- Cover Athlete: Baylor Bears QB Robert Griffin III

NCAA Football 14:  -- Cover Athlete: Michigan QB Denard Robinson


Most appearances by school: Michigan (3), USC (3), Florida (2), Texas (2)

Appearances by position: Quarterbacks (12), running backs/fullbacks (5), wide receivers (4), defensive players (2), mascots (1)


Best Cover, Settlement Division (2003-Present): NCAA Football 08. The decision to release multiple covers for NCAA Football 09 and NCAA Football 10 throw a kink in any rankings or debate, making it tougher to make a case for Sparty, Owen Schmitt or current Utah offensive coordinator Brian Johnson. Zabransky's place on the cover of NCAA Football 08 was a stamp of approval for the Boise State underdog story. The Broncos earned their reputation on the field, but the masses were forced to realize what was happening on the Smurf Turf when they saw Zabransky on the cover.

Best Cover, Non-Settlement Division: College Football USA 97. Tommie Frasier and the block lettering on the cover remind us a simpler time in football video games. The early games also frequently reached out to Heisman Trophy winners for the cover. Frasier and Shaun Alexander were the only pre-2003 cover athletes not to win the prestigious award.

CBS Sports Writer

Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. He's been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him... Full Bio

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