The setup was perfect. Tonight, during the 6 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter, the new cover athlete for Madden NFL 17 was supposed to be revealed to the world, causing all sorts of controversy and the inevitable curse talk. Well, as with most things in life, the news has apparently leaked early, spoiling the plans of everyone at EA and ESPN.

Thanks to a posting over at The Xbox Store, it looks like the New England Patriots tight end, and 26-year-old man-child, Rob Gronkowski will grace the cover of EA’s next gridiron installment. It’s not 100-percent confirmed, but the image of Gronkowski spiking a ball, plus all of the Gronkowski-centric screenshots, really point toward this being legit.

How does this happen? Honestly, it’s anyone’s guess at this point. The unveiling of a cover athlete could be a big marketing boost for EA, so there’s no way the Xbox Store should have had this up. Again, that’s assuming the Gronkowski image on the game’s landing page will actually be on the final cover.

Still, leaks aside, does it make sense for Gronkowski to be on the cover? Of course. The guy is one of the most prolific players in the NFL, and, despite having the personality of a human can of Bud Light Lime, he’s a fairly harmless ambassador for the game. He certainly has more personality than Peyton Manning Inc. and has proven more on the field than last year’s cover athlete, Odell Beckham Jr. Plus, he has a ring.

Now, New England being New England, there’s obviously going to be some anxiety from fans about Gronk hitting the Madden cover. To put it mildly, Madden cover athletes don’t have the best luck the season they're immortalized in digital form. And with Tom Brady looking down the barrel of a suspension, the last thing the folks of New England need is for Gronkowski to fall victim to the cover curse.

Madden NFL 17 will hit stores on Aug. 23.

Update: Well that Xbox Store page already got taken down.

h/t Shack News

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