The subject of the “Madden Curse” has been a hot topic over the last two decades amongst football fans. The gist of it is that whichever player appears on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden football game will have some kind of calamity befall him that season, from which he may or may not recover. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t, but it happens more often than not.
The Madden 19 cover athlete was Antonio Brown. You can say, nothing bad happened to Antonio Brown last year, he put up one of the best seasons of his career. And while that’s true, he also missed the last game of the season in Pittsburgh due to throwing a fit and missing practice, and the team did not reach the playoffs- one of the only times in Brown’s career he has not gone to the postseason.
Then, of course, Brown was traded to the Raiders, almost froze his feet off, whined about his helmet (which he is NOT wearing on the cover of Madden 19), and got released, only to sign with the Patriots and promptly get sued for rape. That all sounds pretty cursey to me!
But who is on the cover of Madden this year? Unless you’ve been living under a rock, it’s this guy:
Things are already looking weird for Mahomes. He has a sprained ankle and his top receiver suffered a pretty nasty injury in the first game that will keep him out for at least a month. His defense is a sieve and who knows if he can replicate last year’s monster production. What crazy misfortune will happen to him this year? We have to wait and see. But let’s look at the Madden Curse throughout the years to give us an idea of what it looks like.
2000: Barry Sanders is the cover athlete, the first time Madden had a cover athlete. Sanders promptly retires out of the blue. Dorsey Levens replaces him on the cover, That was Levens’ last year in Green Bay, as he dealt with a nagging injury and the Packers missed the playoffs.
2001: Eddie George was on the cover, and he had a monster season, but then had a costly bobbled pass form Steve McNair in the playoffs that led to a Ravens interception and a Titans loss. The Ravens won the Super Bowl, and George never ran for 1,200 yards or over four yards per carry again.
2002: Daunte Culpepper was on the cover, and he sustained a serious knee injury a few games into the season. He missed the rest of the year, and the following year had a TD/INT ratio of 18/23.
2003: Marshall Faulk began the sharp decline that ended his career. He failed to rush for 1,000 yards and kept getting worse, eventually retiring after a major surgery a few years later.
2004: Mike Vick broke his leg in the preseason, giving us the wonder of Matt Schaub. He missed 11 games, and later was imprisoned for running a dog-fighting ring in his garage.
2005: Ray Lewis was on the cover, and he had a decent year, but failed to intercept a pass for the first time in his career. The Ravens missed the playoffs, and the following year Lewis tore his hamstring.
2006: Donovan McNabb suffered a serious groin injury and was out for basically the whole year. The next year, he tore his meniscus and his ACL, and his career was never the same, with disappointing stints in Minnesota and Washington.
2007: Shaun Alexander broke his foot, missing the season. The next year, he suffered a fractured wrist and sprains to his knee and ankle. He was released shortly thereafter.
2008: Vince Young and Luis Castillo were cover athletes for the English and Spanish versions of the game respectively. Young injured his quad in Week 6, reinjured himself later in the year, and was a backup from then on. Castillo missed almost the whole season with a knee injury.
2009: Brett Favre retired, unretired, joined the Jets, and sent unsolicited dick pics to a lady. He hurt his shoulder, which hampered him for the next three years until he re-retired.
2010: Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu shared the cover. Fitz was just fine, but Polamalu hurt his MCL in Week 1, came back and hurt his PCL later in the year. The Steelers missed the playoffs.
2011: Brees didn’t get hurt, but had one of the worst seasons of his career and then lost a playoff game at Seattle to a Seahawks team with a losing record when the Beast Quake took place.
2012: Peyton Hillis started the season with strep throat, and injured his hamstring later. The Browns didn’t resign him after the year and he fell of the face of the Earth.
2013: Calvin Johnson had one of the best individual seasons of any player ever. However, he abruptly retired a few years later, still in his prime, echoing Barry Sanders’ response to the Lions ineptitude.
2014: Adrian Peterson dealt with a nagging foot injury all year and the Vikings went 5-10-1. He was never quite the same.
2015: Richard Sherman had a fine year, but Seattle lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl due to passing on the goal line. Sherman got Tommy John surgery after the season ended.
2016: Odell Beckham Jr. had a great year, but missed a game due to suspension over anger issues. These issues would ultimately get him traded to the Browns.
2017: Rob Gronkowski missed the first two games with a hamstring injury, and later in the season was walloped by Earl Thomas, resulting in a pulmonary contusion, which is as scary and freaky as it sounds. He then underwent back surgery to repair a herniated disk.
2018: Tom Brady had one of his best years ever and then lost the Super Bowl to the Eagles, giving them their first ever Super Bowl win. Also, everyone hates Tom Brady.
2019: Antonio Brown ruins everything for everyone.
2020: Patrick Mahomes is on the cover. Is he gonna get whooping cough? Is his hair going to catch on fire while shooting a Pepsi commercial? Will he hilariously fall down a manhole? Or will he simply not be able to live up to his insane numbers from last year? It remains to be seen.