Thank baby Jesus Patriots Rob Gronkowski didn’t get the 2013 Madden cover. Instead it was Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson – sorry Detroit fans, looks like you’re going to have to bring back the paper bags.
Though an honor, we all know what getting the coveted spot on one of sports fans most beloved video games entails – death Injuries. Thus, this Wheaties Box type accomplishment has been dubbed THE MADDEN CURSE.
Prior to 1999, John Madden was the primary face of his Madden Game franchise. Though to Madden’s disapproval to feature specific athletes on the cover, EA decided to have Garrison Hearst appearing on the 1999 cover.
With Heart, the “start” of the curse was born. After his appearance he broke his ankle and was out for 2 seasons, and his performance was never the same. Michael Vick, who appeared on the 2004 Madden cover, broke his fibula in a pre-season game and the Atlanta Falcons went 5-11. Years later it was discovered that he participated in an illegal dog-fighting ring and he was sent to prison.
Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers was featured on the cover of Madden NFL 10. Polamalu sprained his MCL in the first half of the season opener and missed the next four games. After returning, Polamalu played in three more games before injuring his posterior cruciate ligament.
Not all players that grace the cover become injured; some have other disappointments. After Barry Sanders’ appearance on the 2000 cover, Sanders abruptly retired before training camp, falling just short of the record for most career rushing yards.
Other notable players to fall susceptible to the Madden Curse?
Dorsey Levens, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk, Ray Lewis, Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, Brett Farve, and Drew Bree’s ( yes I know he had a record breaking season but have you seen what’s been going on with his team??) just to name a few.
Even with the “curse” many football players want to be on that cover. In the words of running back Shaun Alexander who was featured on the cover in 2007, and shortly after sustained a foot injury that caused him to miss six starts proclaimed “Do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt?”