EA Sports Madden NFL 2012 Claims its Latest Victim
by Ryan Keeler
With the creation of John Madden Football video games in the early 1990s, it has since become a staple in NFL football gaming. Each year bettering itself from the previous, with new features and improving game play to say the least. The fact that this is one of those titles that fans line up to grab the first copies each season is overly understood in the gaming community, but not the only fun fact that attaches itself to this game year in and year out. A phenomenon that has been giving the name of the Madden Curse has claimed 12 victims of 13 athletes that have graced the cover of this video game since 2001.
When John Madden Football was created in 1991, EA decided to use a photo of Madden himself as the cover art. For whatever reason being, most likely to avoid the monotony of using an overweight, elderly football analyst as the games representation for 10 years running, the company decided to run with NFL athletes as the games cover in 2001. This added a fun twist as in deciding on which player that was deserving of the popular games cover and to finally rid the game of Maddens face, as iconic to the game of football as the man is, from here on out. Thus starting a trend nobody saw coming with Eddie George as victim number one.
Eddie George-2001: Eddie brought the Tennessee Titans to the Super Bowl in the previous season and amassed over 1,300 yards rushing. He was one of the top backs in the league and a pro bowler to boot. It just so happened that in 2001, Eddie Georges Titans lost in the first round of the playoffs and was the first year of his career that he did not rush for over 1,000 yards, a trend that saw a steady decline for the rest of his career.
Daunte Culpepper-2002: Mr. Culpepper just finished a year in which he led the Vikings to the NFC Championship, a season in which he finished the year with close to 4,000 yards passing and 33 touchdowns through the air. The following year, Culpepper missed five games due to a knee injury and the Vikings missed the playoffs. Although he had a comeback year in 2004, Daunte was never the same, starting only 20 games in his final four seasons with the Dolphins, Raiders and Lions.
Marshall Faulk-2003: Faulk came off a 2001 campaign that had him win the NFLs offensive player of the year and helped lead his St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl. The following season he missed 4 games due to injury and rushed for 950 yards. The Rams finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Its also safe to mention that Faulk never rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season for the rest of his career.
Michael Vick-2004: Michael Vick went from leading the Falcons over Brett Favres Packers in a dramatic playoff victory in 2002 to find himself missing 11 games the following season with a fractured fibula, (and lets not forget about his 3 year hiatus due to NFL suspension for extra curricular activities a few years later).
Donovan McNabb-2006: Donovan McNabb followed up his Super Bowl campaign with the Eagles in 2004 by spending the 05 season arguing with Terrell Owens and missing 7 games to sports hernia and groin injuries.
Shaun Alexander-2007: Shaun Alexander led his underdog Seahawks to a Super Bowl meeting with the Steelers in 2005, a season in which he rushed for over 1,800 yards and set the NFL record for touchdowns with 27. The next year he broke his foot and played only 3 more years until he decided to hang it up in 2008 and focus on a more lucrative career choice in doing Chunky soup ads.
Brett Favre- 2009: Favre retired and then tried to return to the league the year he made the cover. He ended up with the Jets that season but threw for 22 interceptions and the Jets failed to make the playoffs after starting 8-3. Not to mention finding himself in a very public and less than professional sexting situation with the Jets Gameday Host, Jenn Sterger.
Along with the afore mentioned scenarios, Ray Lewis, Vince Young, Troy Polamalu, and Drew Brees all have seen declines in performance or injuries the following season. Since the implementation of athletes over John Madden himself as the face of the video game, only Larry Fitzgerald has not seen a decline in performance. Which brings us to EAs newest cover boy, Peyton Hillis. With the NFLs 2011 season over a third of the way finished, we find Hillis missing his 3rd game of the past 5 due to a hamstring injury. Hillis had a breakout year last season rushing for almost 1,200 yards and 13 total touchdowns. This year, he has been virtually non-existent with the Cleveland Browns. He finds himself in the coachs doghouse, a contract year in which he was predicted to have a giant season statistically. With fans going as far as creating websites to persuade players from not excepting the invitation to be on the cover of the game, the threat of the Madden Curse is clearly apparent and undeniable. One would think that a player would approach this so called honor with a bit more hesitation, but Shaun Alexander said it best during in interview regarding the Madden Curse, do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt? Or perhaps its time for the athletes to retire and hand the reigns back to the person with the least risk, John Madden.