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Examining the 'Madden' cover curse

  • By Adam Rank NFL.com
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Is it a curse or coincidence? Some are convinced that appearing on the Madden cover is a bad thing. We will provide the evidence, you can judge for yourself.

Congratulations on being selected to the Madden cover Calvin Johnson! You're now doomed to the Madden cover jinx. Well, if you believe in that kind of thing. There has been a long list of players who have battled the cover curse and lost. Here is a few of their stories.

Mike Carter/US Presswire

Peyton Hillis embraced the Madden cover, and said he was ready to break the curse. Instead he rushed for only 587 yards and three touchdowns to continue the streak. Hillis is now in Kansas City.

Saints QB Drew Brees earned the cover after leading New Orleans to its first Super Bowl title. But you can argue whether the curse got to Brees. The Saints made it back to the playoffs, but were eliminated in the first round by the 7-9 Seahawks.

Steelers safety Troy Polamalu only played in five games and the Steelers missed the playoffs. But the cover worked out pretty well for Larry Fitzgerald, who continued to put up big numbers as the Cardinals won their second consecutive NFC West title.

Brett Favre was given the cover following his retirement. But then he came out of retirement, and was traded to the Jets who were on the cusp of the playoffs, but faded down the stretch because of an undisclosed injury to Favre’s throwing shoulder.

Fearing that it was reaching for guys on the decline of their careers, Madden placed Titans QB Vince Young on the cover. And it worked as Young led the Titans to the playoffs in 2007. Though, things have unraveled for him since that time in Tennessee.

Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander was never the same after appearing on the Madden cover. Alexander fractured his foot in 2006, and never rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season again. In fact, his totals from 2006 and 2007 combined did not reach his 2005 totals.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb had a streak of five consecutive Pro Bowl appearances snapped after appearing on the Madden cover in 2005. He also suffered a sports hernia and had a public fallout with receiver Terrell Owens.

Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis felt the effects for two seasons, as he broke his wrist in 2004, though he missed only one game. Lewis did miss 10 games the following season with a thigh injury.

Falcons quarterback Michael Vick broke his leg one day after the game was released, and was forced to miss the first 11 games of the season. Vick’s off-the-field issues became one of the most talked about NFL stories of the decade.

St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk was a three-time NFL offensive player of the year when he was chosen as the Madden cover boy. An ankle injury limited Faulk in 2002 and he never topped 1,000 rushing yards again.

Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper led the NFL with 33 touchdown passes in 2000, earning him a spot on the cover. Culpepper and the Vikings struggled with a 4-7 mark before his season was cut short by an ankle injury.

Titans RB Eddie George rushed for a career-high 1,509 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2000, the year he appeared on the game. But he had a costly fumble as the top-seeded Titans were bounced from the playoffs by the Ravens. George failed to reach 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career the following season.

NFL Network’s Marshall Faulk is being given his own limited edition Hall of Fame cover. Not saying that this will come with a curse, but that GameDay Morning crew should watch itself during those field demonstrations.

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