History of the Madden curse

Being on the cover of the Madden is an honor, but it can come with a price

The Madden curse… dun, dun dun. It brings shudders to football fans everywhere. For those who know it, they always wish their favorite star player’s face doesn’t end up printed across millions of copies of video games around the world.

What is the Madden curse? It’s a pattern that keen-eyed fans spotted dating all the way back to 1999. The curse is that every player who has appeared on the cover of the yearly released video game franchise called ‘Madden’, ends up having something bad happen to them.

Let’s take a look back at just a few of the players that have appeared on the cover and what bad thing happened to them.

1999 – Garrison Hearst (San Francisco 49ers)
In the first Madden games, Joe Madden himself appeared on the cover. However, in 1999, the developers decided to put big-name players on instead. The first player to do so was Garrison Hearst. Hearst started the season great, even taking his team to the playoffs, but the curse struck him in the second game of the playoffs against the Atlanta Falcons. He suffered an ankle injury that he would have to spend the next two seasons rehabilitating from.

2001 – Eddie George (Tennessee Titans)
Following his appearance on the cover, George bobbled a ball in the fourth quarter of a Ravens game that was intercepted and led to the end of the Titans’ strong season.

2002 – Daunte Culpepper (Minnesota Vikings)
Culpepper suffered a knee injury just weeks after the release of Madden 2002 and went 23 interceptions compared to 18 touchdowns the following season.

2007 – Shaun Alexander (Seattle Seahawks)
Alexander was another that felt the curse in the form of injuries. For him, it included a fractured wrist, sprained knee and sprained ankle. The following season, he was also released from the team he had led to a Super Bowl.

2008 – Vince Young (Tennessee Titans) and Luis Castillo (San Diego Chargers)
LaDainian Tomlinson was originally chosen for the Madden cover. However, since the Madden curse had been going for almost ten years at this point, people had begun to notice. Chargers fans outcried to not have their favorite player end up on the cover. Instead Young and Castillo ended up on the cover, and both suffered injuries that season.

2009 – Brett Favre (Green Bay Packers)
The Madden developers thought they had found a way to stop the fear of a curse. They decided to put a retired Brett Farve on the cover to honor his career. However, little known to them, Favre decided to come out of retirement to play for the New York Jets and the Minnesota Vikings. While he had some success in both, his NFC championship interception will never be forgotten.

2016 – Rob Gronkowski (New England Patriots)
Gronk was on a successful team and had a fairly successful season. However, after a week 11 injury, he had to sit and watch as his team won a Super Bowl without him.

2019 – Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh Steelers)
Brown was hit with the curse hard. Just a year after his appearance on the cover, he isn’t even in the NFL anymore because of allegations and multiple releases due to his dramatic personality.

2020 – Patrick Mahomes (Kansas City Chiefs)
Mahomes’ fate has yet to be determined. While he went down for knee injury a couple of weeks ago, he is expected to return soon. However, his absence has already led to two losses for his team. Maybe the curse will lead to no playoffs for the Chiefs this year.

Maybe this whole curse idea is just a bunch of malarkey and crazy fan theory. It is football after all, and players getting injured or released happens all the time. I guess we’ll have to wait until next year to see if the trend continues, but regardless, isn’t it that much more exciting if there’s a chance that it’s real?

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