With Madden 2013 being released tomorrow with “Megatron”, Calvin Johnson on the cover it is time that we revisit the idea of the Madden curse and try to decide whether or not Calvin is finally going to be the player to break the curse or whether he will fall victim like the many before him. Since the year 1999 when John Madden decided to take his picture off the cover and start using elite players to sell his product, the curse has been looming. The curse being that every player that has graced the cover has either been injured the next season or hasn’t lived up to the hype that they had the year before or they’ve had a string of luck so bad that their careers were never able to fully recover.
This is Calvin Johnson’s fifth year in the NFL and last year he had a breakthrough season with 96 receptions, 1,681 yards receiving, and a whopping 16 touchdown catches. So it was a no-brainer to elect him for the cover of this year’s Madden video game. He is quite a physical specimen, and was the best receiver in the league last year and one of the best all-around football players to ever put on a Lion’s uniform. (Barry Sanders is probably THE best.) To really make an educated guess at whether or not the Madden curse will take down Megatron, we must first take a look back at some of the players that have made the cover and what happened to them.
First, Garrison Hearst of the San Francisco 49er’s was the first to make the cover and he led his team into the playoffs until he broke his ankle and was never the same. The next year is a bit fuzzy when it comes to the curse. It was supposed to be Barry Sanders on the cover, but he retired before the start of the season. So the folks at Madden decided to change the cover in the middle of the season to Green Bay Packers running back Dorsey Levens and Dorsey ended up injuring his knee that year. He also was never quite the same. The next player was Tennessee running back Eddie George. Eddie didn’t get injured that season, but people attribute his costly bobble that led to an interception during the Titans vs. Ravens playoff game that led to a Ravens win as a sign of the curse. 2002 was Daunte Culpepper and he had a season-ending knee injury. 2003, was Marshall Faulk; ankle injury. 2004, was Michael Vick; broken fibula. It was in 2004 when the curse really came to fruition and people began to see a pattern forming, but was there really a pattern? This is the NFL people and most players are going to get injured at least once or twice in their careers, if not several times……but wait, there’s more.
In 2005 we saw Ray Lewis on the cover and he broke his wrist that year. In 2006, Donovan McNabb suffered a hernia and missed seven games. In 2007, Shaun Alexander sustained a fractured foot and missed six games. In 2008, Vince Young decorated the cover and he injured his thigh, hindering his abilities. Perhaps, the curse got to him most of all because he went from rookie of the year to being quite the head case and he was dropped from the Titans altogether for being a cancer to the team and now he doesn’t even have a team, just being cut by the Bills. In 2009, Brett Favre made the cover…..I don’t think I need to explain that one. In 2010, it was Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald, who both ended the season with injuries. Then it comes to Drew Brees in 2011, who luckily didn’t injure himself, but did end up on the wrong side of one of the biggest playoff upsets in NFL history when the Saints lost to the abysmal Seattle Seahawks in the first round of playoffs. 2012’s cover has Peyton Hillis, who ended up spending most of the season on the sidelines due to contract disputes.
Clearly, there is something very strange going on with John Madden and his video game voodoo, or maybe after all that I have said you are still not convinced that there is a curse and that everything I have told you seems to be a series of extraordinary coincidents. Maybe you are feeling a bit uneasy about this curse, but you feel that Calvin Johnson is just the man to put all of these rumors to rest. All I know is that when Megatron goes down in the first game with a broken something or other, you will all understand that the curse is very real and you will band with me to petition to get John Madden back on the cover. That’s the way it used to be and that’s the way it needs to go back to so that we can all rest easy knowing that our favorite player won’t have to endure that ominous career-ending cloud of gloom and doom that returns every year for its next target.