In 2011, the company Electronic Arts (EA) who produces the Madden video game series, decided to take a new approach to choosing the cover athlete for Madden 12. There was a 32 man single elimination playoff that allowed the fans to vote on who they wanted to see on the highest selling sports game cover. Truth be told, EVERY NFL PLAYER WANTS TO BE ON THE COVER OF MADDEN. Anyone that tells you they don’t is a lie. So why did LaDainian Tomlinson turn down the cover in  2008? Why would a player turn down being on the cover, and the big marketing dollars that come along with it? The answer is, the infamous “The Madden Curse”. LT is the rare, superstitious  exception, not the rule. Every year us players actually talk about the curse like it is a real and living thing, but are willing to take the chance of being hit by the curse to grace the cover. As an athlete, one of the highest honors is to be on the cover of the most popular video game about your sport. The whole video game universe plays Madden and knows who is on the cover.

When you look at the bracket, and assess who will win, certain names stick out. Aaron Rodgers, Maurice Jones-Drew, Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, and DeMarcus Ware all look like favorites. Who is Peyton Hillis and how did he win the cover? Blame the Curse. This fan voting was not about “who the fans wanted on the cover”. It was about who the fans didn’t want on the cover. NFL fans are die hard and serious, and don’t want their season ruined by the Madden Curse. If you are a fan, what do you do to save your season? Vote for the other guy. The reality is Peyton Hillis is a running back who has only eclipsed 350 yards one time, and that was last year (1177). So you might say, “he became a fan favorite last year so he won the cover”. Wrong. Neither in 2010 or 2011 was Hillis amongst the Top 25 in jersey sales. Jersey sales are a clear indication of popularity in the NFL. Regardless of the reason, Hillis won the cover, the money, the popularity, and most importantly, the Madden curse. Hillis rushed for over 1000 yards last year, and will need a near miracle to make it again this year.  Through 8 weeks of the 2011-12 season, Peyton only has 200 yards rushing and has only played 4 games. It is obvious the cover boy has been hit hard by the curse. Still not a believer in the curse? I’ll give you more history:

  • 2011, Drew Brees: Threw a career high 22 int, and lost to a 7-9 team in the first round of the playoffs.
  • 2010, Troy Polamalu/Larry Fitzgerald: Polamalu only played five games due to knee injuries, Steelers missed playoffs; Fitzgerald wasn’t affected much (97 receptions, 1,092 yards, 13 TD, Pro Bowl). Troy was sacrificed for Larry’s success.
  • 2009, Brett Favre: Feuded with Packers, traded to Jets, horrible down the stretch (lost 4 of last 5).
  • 2008, Vince Young: Missed 1 game with quad injury; led Titans to first playoff appearance in four years. The curse waited a season to take effect. In ’09, he only played in 3 games and begun his exit from Tennessee.
  • 2007, Shaun Alexander: Fractured foot, missed six games; fewer yards and TDs in ’06 AND ’07 than in ’04 OR ’05.
  • 2006, Donovan McNabb: Sports hernia in first game, missed seven games; feuded withTerrell Owens all year; had been to five straight Pro Bowls, hasn’t been since.
  • 2005, Ray Lewis: Broken wrist, missed one game; first season without interception; missed 10 games next year with thigh injury.
  • 2004, Michael Vick: Fractured fibula one day after video game was released, missed 11 games.
  • 2003, Marshall Faulk: Ankle injury, missed two games, never rushed for 1,000 yards again.
  • 2002, Daunte Culpepper: 4-7 record before season-ending knee injury. Never been the same since.
  • 2001, Eddie George: Career season, but fumbled in playoffs as top-seeded Titans lost first game to Ravens.
  • 2000, Barry Sanders: Retired one week before training camp.

Is that enough proof? Do you believe in the curse now? I am not superstitious at all , but this cannot be ignored. One, two, even three times is a coincidence. This has happened EVERY year. If it is not a curse, what do you make of it? If EA decides to let the fans vote again, just remember, vote hard for the other guy.

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