While questions regarding whether or not there will be an NFL season in 2012 continues to linger, the people at Electronic Arts aren’t going to let that stop production on their highly successful professional football video game series, EA Sports Madden NFL. The next installment in the series, Madden NFL ‘12, is set to be released August 11, 2011, whether football in the real world will be going on or not. To help build excitement for the game, EA Sports has teamed up with ESPN’s SportsNation to allow fans to vote on who they want to see on the cover of the new title. Thirty-two representatives of the sport were placed in a bracket-style format, with winners of head-to-head voting competitions advancing to the next round until two face off in the finals for the right to grace the cover of the 2012 version of Madden.
Among these representatives was Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, who was matched up in the first round against Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles. With the incredible fan support of Tebow, he was expected to go far in the competition, but he received only 36% of the vote and failed to make it to round two, crushing any hopes of a Broncos player making it to the cover.
But was Tebow missing the cover a good thing? History says yes.
What has become known in NFL folklore as the “Madden Curse” is the theory that if a player makes the Madden cover one year, they will either be seriously injured or their level of play will drop drastically the next. Some laugh off the notion of a curse as silly, but the legend has legs. Here is a list of some of the Madden NFL cover players and the strange events that have occurred afterwards:
Garrison Hearst, Madden NFL ‘99
After a great season in 1998, Hearst was given the honors of becoming the first player to be featured on the cover of Madden. Until that year, John Madden himself had been on the cover of all previous installments of the game. Hearst played well in the 1999 season, leading the San Francisco 49ers all the way to the playoffs. However, Hearst twisted his ankle during a game, breaking his fibula just above the ankle. He missed two seasons rehabbing the injury.
Daunte Culpepper, Madden NFL ‘02
After coming off a horrible championship game loss in Culpepper’s season debut, the Minnesota Vikings were poised to go all the way the next season. However, with Culpepper under center, the Vikings went 4-7, with Culpepper throwing 23 interceptions along the way. He later suffered a season ending knee injury.
Michael Vick, Madden NFL ‘04
After leading the Atlanta Falcons to their first playoff appearance in several years the previous season, Vick broke his leg during the preseason the next year and only played in five games. In 2007, Vick was sentenced to serve 23 months in prison for his involvement in dog fighting activities.
Donovan McNabb, Madden NFL ‘06
With McNabb at the helm, the Philadelphia Eagles won 59 games and made the playoffs five straight years, including an NFC Championship game loss and a trip to the Super Bowl. After being named the cover player for the 2006 edition of Madden, McNabb stated that he didn’t believe in the “Madden Curse”. He would later suffer a sports hernia, and after playing in eight more games, he opted to have surgery that kept him out the rest of the season.
Shaun Alexander, Madden NFL ‘07
After an amazing run to the Super Bowl the previous year, Alexander and the Seattle Seahawks looked to continue their route the next season. However, in week three Alexander broke his foot and missed six games. He returned later that year, but he was never able to reach the same level of play as he had previously for the remainder of his career.
Brett Favre, Madden NFL ‘09
After announcing his retirement from the Green Bay Packers, Favre was put on the cover of Madden for 2009 as a tribute to his illustrious career. However, Favre would return to the NFL as a New York Jet the next year. He started off playing well, but then threw nine interceptions and the Jets failed to make the playoffs. After hinting at retirement again, Favre came back as a Minnesota Viking and had a career year. But a costly interception in the NFC Championship game cost his team a chance to go to the Super Bowl.
Every season has had some examples of the Madden cover player(s)experiencing injury or other troubles, so maybe its not just an urban legend. Nevertheless, with Tebow being eliminated from contention for the cover early, Broncos fans can rest assured that he is safe from the dreaded curse. But someone will make the cover, and it will be interesting to see if the “curse” lives on.
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