The Madden Curse – True or False?

    Despite the infamous Madden curse, Calvin Johnson seems to be pleased about becoming the Madden NFL 13 cover athlete. Some get injured, but that’s American Football. Some see their career slowly declining, but many of the players had a few years of NFL mileage on their fragile bodies when they appeared.

    One thing is for sure – None of the players featuring on the cover of the Madden NFL game have gone on to win a Super Bowl. That does make you wonder.

    Garrison Hearst, 1999 Version

    The beginning of the ”cruse”. Hearst had a fantastic 1998 season, running for 1750 yards with the 49ers. He broke his ankle in the playoffs, which led to a two year rehabilitation period. Hearst won the comeback player of the year in 2001, rebounding with a very good season, running for 1206 yards and helping the 49ers to a 12-4 regular season.

    Barry Sanders – 2000

    Not exactly a curse. Sanders didn’t get injured in the 1999 season, he simply chose to retire just before training camp, leaving a hole in the Detroit Lions team that hasn’t been filled since last year by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson.

    Eddie George – 2001 Edition

    The curse didn’t really destroy George. He had a great season during the ‘cover’ year, posting career highs in yards (1509) and touchdowns with 14. However, there was a significant drop in his next four seasons, never averaging more than 3.4 yards a carry during a season.

    Daunte Culpepper – 2002 Edition

    Culpepper reacted slowly to the curse. His 2002 season was bad, throwing 23 interceptions but he seemed to rebound, having an enormous 2004 year with 4717 yards and 39 touchdowns. But then he blew his knee, getting injured in a game. He remained in the NFL until 2009, but never started more than 6 games in a season.

    Marshall Faulk – 2003 Cover

    Marshall Faulk was the poster boy for the greatest show on turf, but never had a 1000 yards season after appearing on the Madden Cover in 2003, as his career faded away, just like the St. Louis Rams after two Super Bowl appearances.

    Michael Vick – 2004 Cover

    Vick used to be the most exciting talent in football during his early Atlanta Falcons days, so he naturally made the cover of the 2004 game. He broke his fibula in a pre-season and the Falcons finished 5-11. Years later, he was arrested for organizing dog fights at his home, ending up in jail.

    Ray Lewis – 2005 Cover

    Ray Lewis was so tough he nearly lasted the entire season (2004) without getting injured, playing in 15 games. The next year, a week 6 injury cut his season short. He hasn’t missed many games since.

    Donovan McNabb – 2006 Cover

    Donovan McNabb led the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004, earning him the 2006 edition cover. He played injured halfway through the 2005 season before tearing his ACL and meniscus later on, ending his season.

    Shaun Alexander – 2007 Cover

    Shaun Alexander was the NFL’s MVP in 2005, running for a career high 1880 yards and setting a new record with 28 touchdowns scored. After appearing on the cover, his streak of 5 1000 yards season ended as injuries caught up with him. His career ended midway through the 2008 season.

    Vince Young – 2008 Cover

    Vince Young showed huge promise in his first two seasons with the Tennessee Titans, unaffected by the ‘curse’. The next season came the injury, and since then a deterioration and fall in his career, being far away from starter and star status.

    Brett Favre – 2009 Edition

    Favre was supposed to retire after his career with the Green Bay Packers, but decided he can’t stay away from the game. His season with the New York Jets wasn’t very memorable for his time on the field, more so for his off-field sexual harassment scandal. His next season, with the Minnesota Vikings, was much better.

    Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu – 2010 Cover

    After both faced each other in the Super Bowl, both went in different directions the next season as regarding as to how the curse handled them. Larry Fitzgerald wasn’t as good as in 2008, but still caught 97 catches for 1092 yards and scored 13 touchdowns, still a career high for him. Polamalu missed more than half the season due to injuries.

    Drew Brees – 2011 Cover

    Unaffected. In fact, Brees’ numbers have just improved since winning the Super Bowl and ‘earning’ to be on the cover of EA Sports’ leading franchise.

    Pyeton Hills – 2012 Cover

    Classic Madden case. Hillis had over 1600 yards from scrimmage in 2010, scoring 13 touchdowns. The next season, he played in only 10 games, managing only 587 yards on the ground and scoring three touchdowns.

    Images: Megatron Hearst Culpepper Alexander Young Favre