In today’s society people tend to search for direct correlations of anything that leads to someone’s success. Which made Michael Jordan so successfully in the NBA: was it his jump shot and other skills or the University of North Carolina shorts he wore under his Bulls uniform every single game? Was Brian Urlacher one of the most dominant linebackers because he ate two chocolate chip cookies before every game? Besides the positive superstitions, society and athletes face other negative superstitions, most notably the deadly, career threatening “Madden Curse”.
The Madden Curse is a lethal, career threatening curse that deteriorates a players performance due to the player being selected to star on the highly prestigious front cover of EA Sports Madden NFL video game. The curse to this day typically targets offensive players and leaves their legacy a question. However, defensive players certainly are not safe.
The history of the “Madden Curse” originated in 1999 when EA Sports dedicated the front cover of its Madden NFL football video game to San Francisco 49ers superstar running back Garrison Hearst. The producers of the game never thought they had the power to corrupt a player’s performance in following season and possibly an entire career. Hearst suffered a broken ankle in the playoffs, which sidelined him for the next two seasons. Certainly the well-educated human being is thinking that Hearst’s injury is only one isolated instance. How could someone make such a crazy claim as to suggest Hearst was cursed. Prepare to be amazed.
To start the investigation the first victim that will be discussed is one-time NFL great quarterback Michael Vick. Vick was featured on the cover of Madden 2004, and it is safe to say that was his first mistake. Vick got injured the following season causing him to miss 11 games. Then Vick was caught hosting dog fights in which the dogs would battle until they no longer could. He would serve jail time and never play for the Falcons again.
One of the exceptions to the curse seems to be defensive players. Ray Lewis was a monster on the field and not many things could affect his level of play. Ray continued to dominate the league, and frankly he proved the curse doesn’t affect defense players.
Donavon McNabb had a monster season the previous year passing for 3,875 yards and 31 touchdowns. Unfortunately for McNabb he suffered injuries but still managed to play in 10 games. He threw for 1,300 yards less than the previous season and his touchdown count got cut in half. The curse got the best of McNabb as he never had a better season then his year before the starring on the cover.
Shaun Alexander ran for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns the season before his career would be changed forever. The recurring theme on injury struck Alexander, yet he managed to still play in 13 games where he saw his touchdown total drop to a slim 7, and his rushing total decreased by 1,000 yards.
Vince Young could have retired after his college career and his legacy would probably be better than it is now. Vince Young dominated the college atmosphere and had major hype entering the NFL After appearing on the cover of Madden, Young had a horrendous season where he found himself a second string QB by the end of the season.
Favre’s case is one of the most interesting ones out there as his level of play didn’t decrease too much. Favre however found himself playing for a different team, a much worse quality of a team. Favre retired and then ended up signing with the New York Jets where the team failed to even make the playoffs. Favre’s play was not affected on the field but people certainly can’t rule out that the curse could have occurred in his decision making.
This is one of the most interesting Madden covers, a rare instance that featured two players instead of just one. Fitzgerald made his way through the following season without much harm despite only catching a slim 6 touchdowns compared to 13 a season before. As far as Polamalu goes the same cannot be said. He suffered two knee injures which kept him out the majority of the season and his play decreased tremendously. Defensive players may not be affected by the Madden curse nearly as frequently as offensive players, but Polamalu showed they are not always safe either.
Only some of the greatest players in the NFL have the ability to overpower the curse and Drew Brees is one of them. His stats may have declined slightly but his team made the playoffs, and he had a good season.
Who is Peyton Hillis? The biggest bust in years? The most overrated player of all time? Many questioned how he made his way on the cover of the game and the doubters would be proven correct. He suffered injury and ultimately was released from the team. You read that right. He went from a starting running back to an unemployed back in just one season. One could argue Peyton Hillis single-handedly supports and confirms the existence of the curse.
Once again, only the top players in the league have any chances of avoiding the curse and Calvin Johnson proved he is legit. Johnson is the only one who actually beat the curse without question. He finished the year by adding himself to the record books with an absurd 1,964 receiving yards in just one season.
Another unique example is Vikings superstar Adrian Peterson. Peterson dominated the league with ease the previous season and carried the level of play into the following year until injury slowed him down. Peterson’s example is unique due to the fact the curse hit him so late. Peterson was suspended from the NFL for the entire 2014 season for child abuse. His reputation will forever be tainted and his success could be forgotten. No matter how many records he can break no one will be able to forget what he did.
Richard Sherman is one of the most vocal, fun-to-watch players in the NFL nowadays who also manages to be pretty good at the sport. He was a lockdown corner the year before he was on the cover and was a lockdown corner the following year. The curse couldn’t affect Sherman so it had to hit someone close to him, head coach Pete Carroll. The Seahawks fell in the Super Bowl when Carroll made the heavily criticized choice to pass on the one yard line instead of giving the ball to superstar running back Marshawn Lynch. The curse will find a way to take its toll one way or another.
Odell Beckham Jr. was the top rookie in the NFL last season and the hype is very high for upcoming season unless the curse has something to say about it. He has started off hot with 19 catches, 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. It is way top early to determine if the curse is playing an effect yet, but if history is any indication, the curse will be taking another victim this season.
The curse is certainly real. Believe what you want, but the evidence points in its favor. The only advice I can give you is if you ever have an opportunity to be on the front cover of Madden, quit the NFL and pick up a new hobby like golf or something else.