The only thing that stops the dust is the rain. It’s a sweet reprieve, but there is no middle ground. The land is either as dry as the Betty Ford clinic, or as wet as the ocean floor. Everything can be seen from the ridge overlooking Armadillo as John Marston gently bounces along atop...
Our nation's professional football players are collectively suffering from an affliction so rampant and widespread that it's a wonder we haven't started a walk-a-thon fundraiser to support them in their time of need. No, I'm not talking about concussions or jail time following criminal charges. I'm talking about the dreaded Madden curse.
Since 1999 when Electronic Arts decided to ditch the constant cover star John Madden for professional athletes coming off of a season of dominant performance, stars like Garrison Hearst, Marshall Faulk, and Ray Lewis have suffered season-ending injuries after appearing in that year's Madden video game box art. Do players believe in the curse? Certainly the fat checks cut by EA help cushion the blow, but with the cover-decision making process handed off to fans in a yearly vote, it can feel a bit like Ol' Yeller.
In fact, EA has even told reporters that they believe fans purposefully vote against their hometown favorites in order to ensure their team doesn't go without a star player. The Madden curse might not be real, but it certainly seems like some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy at this point… or maybe just a natural result of an athlete coming off an incredible performance last year.
This year, fans voted retired running back Barry Sanders to the cover, negating any effect the Madden curse might have on the 2013-2014 season, but it doesn't shake the evidence that EA's yearly football sim has had a profound effect on certain key players in the past 10+ years that an athlete has been featured on the cover:
1999 Garrison Hearst: The cover curse started with Hearst who broke his ankle and missed two seasons of play.
2001 Eddie George: Despite the Tennessee Titans making it to the 2001 playoffs, cover athlete George bobbled a pass which was eventually intercepted by Ray Lewis for a touchdown. George carry average was a mere 3.4 yards throughout the rest of his career.
2002 Daunte Culpepper: After appearing on the cover Culpepper threw 23 interceptions and tied the record for most fumbles in a single season.
2003 Marshall Faulk: Knee injuries frequently sidelined Faulk after appearing on the cover until his abrupt retirement in 2005
2004 Michael Vick: Vick broke his fibula before the season even started.
2005 Ray Lewis: Wrist injury late in the season.
2006 Donovan McNabb: A hernia and a torn ACL sidelined McNabb after appearing on the cover.
2007 Shaun Alexander: A foot injury put Alexander on the bench for almost half the season.
2009 Brett Favre: While on the cover in his Green Bay Packer uniform, 2009 also saw Favre's move to the New York Jets where he generally sucked and also suffered an ankle injury.
2010 Troy Polamalu: Polamalu shared the cover with Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, but the curse quickly took Polamalu to the locker room with a sprained MCL in the opening game of the season (as well as a ligament injury after returning to the field).
2011 Drew Brees: Brees played most of the season, but also suffered an MCL injury and threw twice as many interceptions as he did the previous season. What's more, the Saints lost their only playoff game to the Seattle Seahawks (who made history as the only team to make the playoffs with a losing record that year).
2012 Peyton Hillis: Most recently the curse took Hillis for five games with a hamstring injury, which reoccurred throughout the season. That's what the Brown's fans who voted for Hillis get, I guess.
So the Madden Curse is real, folks. Maybe EA are developing these games on top of an ancient Indian burial ground or something. Our review of Madden NFL 25 went up today and you can read it right here.