When trying to measure the pulse of Joe Sports Fan circa 2011 -- at least the type of fan who would vote in an online poll to determine a video game cover -- recent events can only lead one to conclude that "irregular" is an apt description.

How else can one describe the results of the fan voting in the "semifinals" of the Madden 12 football video game cover battle. One matchup pitted Vikings RB Adrian Peterson against Eagles QB Michael Vick. The other bracket had Packers QB (and Super Bowl MVP) Aaron Rodgers against Browns RB Peyton Hillis.

All four had advanced through previous voting rounds to reach the semis. And while we'll freely admit that the results of this type of online voting are about as scientific as a meat raffle, the results still were surprising.

Vick took down Peterson, claiming 59 percent of the votes in the race to grace the cover of the popular game. More surprisingly, Hillis earned 61 percent of votes in his matchup with Rodgers.

Must have been the Lake Erie mud-coast bias in the latter voting.

But seriously, instead of a showdown between popular NFC North rivals at the peak of their positions, we have a guy who went into last season with about 400 career rushing yards against a QB whose public profile was seemingly unfixable after his canine-related jail time.

What does that tell us about sports fans in 2011? Perhaps it tells us that underdog stories (Hillis) and tales of redemption (Vick) resonate just as powerfully (if not more so) than tales of flat-out success.

Well, unless a bunch of Peterson and Rodgers fans were stuffing the ballot box with votes for Vick and Hillis to help their guys avoid the fabled Madden Curse.

Either way, Hillis or Vick -- as chosen by fans in voting over the next week -- will be on the cover of one of this generation's most iconic sports video games. Who would have predicted that a year ago?