I'm a skeptic by nature. I don't believe in Bigfoot and I don't believe in the Loch Ness Monster. When I watch late night infomercials telling me I can become a millionaire and all I have to do is send them $19.95 plus shipping and handling to learn how, I shake my head and wonder who actually falls for this crap. When I hear of people who have lost their life savings to a ponzi scheme, as sad as it is, a part of me almost thinks the deserve it for thinking they could get something for nothing. As the old saying goes, "A fool and his money are soon parted by someone running the Nigerian 419 scam."
But my skepticism isn't limited to mythological creatures, get rich quick schemes, or the theory of gravity (It's really a giant spaghetti monster that keeps us from floating off into space). It also extends to superstitions. I have no qualms about walking under a ladder, I won't lose any sleep if I accidently break a mirror, I refuse to throw spilled salt over my shoulder, and I have no reason to believe eating a rhino's horn will increase my libido. Although I have heard that Spanish fly will give you a horrible itch.
Yet even the most rational and unsuperstitious person can suddenly become very superstitious when it comes to sports. Fans will turn their hats around or inside out if their baseball team needs a rally in the 9th. They wear the same jersey to every game and won't wash it if their team is on a winning streak (I can only imagine how horrible Green Bay started to smell last December). In the Far East they'll carry lucky crickets around in their pockets. In Los Angeles they come to the game late and leave early while in San Diego they don't come to the game at all. Although those last two might not be actual superstitions.
Given the fact so many fans think they can control the outcome of a game through sheer force of will while they sit on their coach eating a 7-layer bean dip, it should come as no surprise there's somewhat of a backlash when it comes to voting for the Madden cover. Being on the Madden cover clearly has a negative effect on the player so it's best to vote against the player you like.
More after the jump...
Just look at what's happened to some of the players who were on the cover. Peyton Hillis missed 6 games last season because of the curse. Vince Young struggled with injuries the year he was on the cover and after coming back healthy the next year his coaches realized he wasn't all that good after all. Not long after Michael Vick was on the cover people found out he was a dog killer and he was sent to prison, while Brett Farve was cursed by having it revealed he was a dirty old man who liked to send naughty texts and pictures to super hot sideline reporters. As for Barry Sanders, the curse was so bad it forced him into early retirement.
I just don't see how anyone can look at the list of victims and think there isn't a curse. It reminds me of the time I made the connection going to bed with my shoes on caused me to wake up the next day with a headache. Then I realized something. Every time I went to sleep with my shoes on it was because I passed out drunk. So maybe it wasn't my shoes that were giving me the headaches but rather the large number of jager bombs I had done followed by lines of coke off random girl's stomachs.
I then decided to look for other correlations that had nothing to do with causation. Turns out when the amount of ice cream consumed by Americans goes up so does the death rate due to drowning. Is the ice cream causing the drowning or is it just that as it gets warmer people both eat more ice cream and go swimming more frequently which thus increases the number of accidental deaths by drowning.
Another example would be that since the 1950s the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has been steadily on the rise along with the obesity rate. So does CO2 cause obesity or do people carrying around that much weight prefer to drive their car instead of walking or riding a bike.
But perhaps my favorite example has to do with global warming. There is almost an exact correlation with the number of pirates and the average temperature of the world. As the number of pirates in the world has gone down, the average temperatures have gone up. Therefore, the reduction in the number of pirates is the cause for global warming.
Then there's the little tid bit (yes, tid bit) that shows the stock market performs better when an NFC team wins the Super Bowl and poorly when an AFC team wins it. It's not exact but it's 80% accurate. It seems to me all President Obama has to do to turn around the economy is ensure an NFC team wins the Super Bowl every year. Honestly, investors should be screaming for a ban on AFC winners.
Now I'm sure very few people honestly believe the conference alignment of the Super Bowl winner has any actual effect on the stock market, or that eating ice cream puts you at a greater risk for drowning, or that pirates help reduce global warming. But a surprisingly large number of people do believe there's some sort of malevolent force out there striking down players who grace the cover of Madden. Maybe it's the ghosts of the victims of Thanksgiving, better known as the turducken holocaust.
Or maybe something else is going on. Football is an incredibly violent sport, despite Rodger Goodell's best efforts to turn it into a glorified 2-hand touch, and players get hurt probably more than in any other sport except the UFC where the whole point is to beat the living snot out of the other guy. Therefore injuries are quite frequent.
There's also the fact that most of the players who have been on the cover got on after they had a great year. After having a great year you would expect some drop off in the level of play especially for running backs who have some of the shortest careers in the NFL already even without the help of Madden.
I can't help but wonder what would have happened if Patrick Willis had been on the cover last year instead of Peyton Hillis? Willis missed almost 4 games because of an injury and his 97 tackles were well below his previous season low of 128. So while Hillis's injuries and below average performance were blamed on the curse, with Willis people just shrugged and said injuries happen and he had fewer tackles because he was dropped into coverage more often.
And what about Larry Fitgerald? He was on the cover a few years ago and seemed unaffected. Was he wearing Madden curse repellent underwear? Did the powers that be simply decided to give him a free pass? And what if Willis does make it onto the cover and finishes with a better year than he did last year? Will people rationalize it by saying the NFC West must have some shield to deflect the curse except in Seattle where the rain neutralizes the curse protecting powers?
I will admit the number of problems suffered by players on the cover of Madden does seem striking, but with the amount of products and magazines that put players on them, it's only natural one of them would have more bad luck than good, but there's no evil force out there striking down players any more than pirates help reduce global warming. It's just one of those things. Kind of like people who drive red cars are more likely to get into an accident.