General Sports

The Madden Curse

Some things just go together; peanut butter and jelly, spaghetti and meatballs, Pedro Gomez and the San Francisco Giants, Robin Williams and bad movies. That’s why, when people think football, they think of the Madden NFL video game franchise.

    Video gamers across the country are excited for the release of Madden 2008, which will be in stores on the 14th of August. Vince Young, 2006 rookie of the year, will be gracing the front cover following the foot steps of other NFL superstars.
Cover boys in the past have not lived up to their expectations in their respective seasons after being on the cover of the Madden video game, which led to the myth of the “Madden Curse.” Call it fake. Call it make believe. Call it pretend. Call it whatever you want, but the truth of the matter is, the Madden Curse is for real.

    The true definition of the Madden Curse claims that whoever appears on the front cover each year of the video game, will be jinxed, and perform poorly, or be put on the sideline with an injury. Often, one falls to superstitions to explain the unexplainable, and this myth has remained unsolved ever since John Madden removed his jolly old face from the cover and replaced it with athletes that had no idea what they were getting themselves into. The ones who take the risk of appearing on the cover are choosing fame over their inevitable fate and downfall.

    It all started in 2000, when the video game series John Madden Football became Madden NFL and started having some of the best players in the league appear on the game. On the 2000 edition, John Madden was still featured on the front cover, except a small shot of Barry Sanders was in the background. Barry was the first victim of the curse. Sanders was coming off a great season and was surely going to be crossing the goal line on numerous occasions this time around. As it turns out, one of the most shocking announcements was made just before the start of training camp. Barry Sanders decided to cut his ten year hall of fame career short and retire. One man was down and out, but the Madden demons were not done yet.

    Because of the fact that Barry retired when the release of Madden was a few weeks away, John Madden decided to play Satan and kill two birds with one stone. For later shipments of the Madden game, Dorsey Levens, the star running back for Green Bay Packers, who appeared in the previous two Super Bowls, was on the front cover. Levens was bothered by a bad knee the whole season and Green Bay finished at a sub par 8-8 record leaving them to watch the playoffs at home. After that year, Dorsey was used only as a reserve before being released at the end of the 2001 season.

    Eddie George was featured on the cover on Madden 2001 after falling just short of a Super Bowl title the year before when Kevin Dyson was tackled on the one yard line by linebacker Mike Jones.

    Who? Mike Jones. Who? Mike Jones. What a talented rapper.

    The curse seemed to not faze Eddie George as he had great numbers all year long. The Madden demons must have been on a vacation because they did not strike down until the playoffs when the Titans took on the Baltimore Ravens. Eddie George bobbled a seemingly simple pass which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown which essentially lost the game for Tennessee and ended their Super Bowl dreams. The next year, he was hampered by injuries throughout the season and his rushing average hit rock bottom.

    Daunte Culpepper, who later starred in “The Love Boat”, was the main man on Madden 2002. Culpepper had 40 total scores the year before and took the Vikings to the NFC Championship which earned him the honor.  In the 2001 season, (which is Madden 2002 because they are a year ahead for some reason) Culpepper struggled through the first 11 games. He threw 13 interceptions and only 14 touchdown passes. He suffered a back injury and missed the final 5 games of the year as the Vikings fell to 5-11.

    A valuable member of the “greatest show on turf” graced the cover in Madden 2003. Marshall Faulk missed five games that season with an ankle injury and was never the same again. He did run for over 1,000 yards, but that was nowhere near his production of the previous season. The Rams disappointed with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs. Faulk never eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark again.

    Even after the curse brought numerous superstars down, many still failed to believe. The ones who argued that the jinx is not existent are the same ones that think the Steve Bartman incident was just a wacky coincidence. I feel ya’ Cubbie fans. It was time for the demons to turn it up a notch.

    Madden 2004 had the Atlanta Falcons up and coming quarterback, Michael Vick, on the front cover. This match made in hell was doomed from the beginning when Vick fractured his right fibula in a preseason game against the Ravens. He only appeared in five games during that season and the Falcons fell to 5-11. He only threw four passing touchdowns and barely had 500 yards in the air.

    The first defensive player was featured on the cover in 2005. Ray Lewis, the linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens recorded six interceptions the previous season. Lewis failed to record an interception for the first time in his career in the 2004 season and sat out the final game of the year as the Ravens missed the playoffs. He also had a career low of 77 tackles. The next go around, Lewis tore his right hamstring and missed ten weeks.

    Donovan McNabb was supposed to be the man to break the curse in 2006, but he turned out to be no Harry Potter. In week one against the Atlanta Falcons, McNabb suffered a sports hernia. This was just a few weeks after Donovan proclaimed that the curse was not real and he did not believe in it. McNabb continued to play with the injury, but re-injured it against the Dallas Cowboys after Roy Williams returned a McNabb pass for six points the other way.

    Shaun Alexander was the cover boy for Madden 2007, just one year after leading the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl appearance. He suffered a broken foot against the New York Giants and missed six starts. He failed to rush for 1,000 yards for the first time since the year 2000.

    Now, this of course brings us to Vince Young, who bravely poses for Madden 2008. He is a gifted young athlete and has a bright future, but Young doesn’t exactly have everything going for him. He plays for a team who is getting better, partly thanks to him, but doesn’t have many tools around him on the offensive end. His receivers aren’t top notch……ok, they suck. LenDale White is a potential bust and with all Young’s scrambling around, he is just asking for someone to lay a lick on him and injure him. (See Vick back in Madden 04.) Kerry Collins better be warming up in the bullpen because it is very possible he will see some time in 2007.

    As the years go by, more and more people will say that curses are fake much like Santa Clause and the Tooth Fairy. But even if the curse isn’t real, I suggest that John stops the suffering and returns to his old form as the Madden cover boy. Although, if he does so, I will be praying he doesn’t drop dead with a heart attack.

PS: EA Sports/John Madden, if you are reading this, please consider putting a picture of my ex-girlfriend on the cover for next year, she really deserves it. (So what if I live in my mom’s basement!)

5 replies on “The Madden Curse”

Madden Curse I really like how this writer explained each year and how the person on the cover of Madden got hurt.

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