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Peyton Hillis chosen for Madden cover

Browns' Hillis is taken down by Steelers' Foote, Timmons and Harrison during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Cleveland

Cleveland Browns’ Peyton Hillis (in black) is taken down by Pittsburgh Steelers defense Larry Foote (50), Lawrence Timmons (94) and James Harrison during the third quarter of their NFL football game in Cleveland, Ohio January 2, 2011. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)


Peyton Hillis has been chosen for the cover of the Madden ’12 video game, beating out Michael Vick in the final round of fan voting.

“It means a lot to me and my family,” Hillis said. “I just want to say thank you.”

A year ago, Hillis on the Madden cover would have sounded like a joke: Hillis was shipped from Denver to Cleveland last offseason as part of the Brady Quinn trade, and it wasn’t even a sure thing that Hillis would make the Browns’ roster.

Hillis didn’t just make the roster, he became the Browns’ go-to player, carrying 270 times for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns and catching another 61 passes for 477 yards and two more touchdowns.

And now Hillis is the public face of one of the most prominent consumer products associated with the NFL. In a year, he’s gone from little-known role player to bona fide star.