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The Madden Curse: Fact or Fiction?

Patrick Willis is one of the candidates that fans can vote for to be on the next edition of Madden Football. For those of you who are interested ESPN's Outside the Lines has a fantastic article on the history of Madden NFL, one that's worth the 15 minutes or so it'll take to read. The title of the article is "The Franchise".

Curses and jinxes are ubiquitous in sports, and the Madden curse is one of the most famous. There are famous curses like the curse of King Tut, which aren't real, and then there are curses which are real. The Madden curse is real. This is concerning to those of us who would rather not see Patrick Willis end up the latest victim of the curse. There are those who might scoff and claim that the believers are simply superstitious fools, but I'll go ahead and prove them wrong by going over the history of every athlete to make the cover of Madden, going back to 1999 when the first player made an appearance.

Madden Cover Players

2012: Peyton Hillis
In 2010 Peyton Hillis had a breakout year rushing 270 times for 1177 yards and 11 tds. He makes the cover of Madden and in 2011 he's embroiled in a contract dispute, misses 6 games for one reason or another, and only managed a 1 year contract in free agency.

2011: Drew Brees
2009 was a banner year for Brees and the Saints. A fantastic completion percentage, a td ratio of 34 tds to 11 INTs, and the Saints take home the Lombardi trophy. In 2010 Brees had a year that was miserable (for Drew Brees). Twenty point drop in quarterback rating, twice as many INTs, 1.5 yards per attempt less. Then they have the dubious distinction of losing to the Seahawks in the first round of the playoffs, the same Seahawks that ended the regular season with a 7-9 record.

Join me after the jump for the rest

2010: Larry Fitzgerald/Troy Polamalu
Larry Fitzgerald missed the Madden curse this year, because Polamalu took the full brunt of it. He sprained an MCL first game of the season and missed the next four. He played three more games and then was injured again, missing several more games. In all he only played 5 games that season.

2009: Brett Favre
In 2008 Favre led the Packers to a 13-3 record and a trip to the playoffs. He threw for over 4,000 yards and had the second best completion percentage of his career. He then went through the whole retiring/unretiring thing, and ended up with the Jets where he threw for 700 yards less than the previous season and had a TD:INT ratio of 1:1 (22 TDs, 22 INTs). He topped it off by becoming implicated in a sexting scandal.

2008: Vince Young
After appearing on the cover, Vince Young's 2008 season disappeared in injuries. He only played in 3 games in 2008, and never managed to start another full season for the Titans again.

2007: Shaun Alexander
Shaun Alexander was a stud of a RB from the time that he entered the league in 2000. In 2006 he rushed for almost 1900 yards on a 5.1 ypc average. He ended up on the cover of Madden, broke his foot the next season, and was out of the league two seasons after making the cover.

2006: Donovan McNabb
In 2004 McNabb had a pretty impressive season. 3875 yards passing, 64% completion (highest of his career), 31TDs to only 8 INTs. Oh, and he also played in a Super Bowl. In 2005, after landing on the cover of Madden, McNabb had a pretty lousy season, which ended when he threw an interception, tried to make a tackle, and injured his groin. He was placed on IR the next month and never quite had the same kind of season.

2005: Ray Lewis
2004 was very much a down year for Lewis. He missed the last game of the season due to injury. He also failed to record an interception for the first time in his career. Lewis has had an injury filled career, but in seasons when he played at least 14 games, 2004 was also the worst for him in sacks.

2004: Michael Vick
One day after the game was released Vick broke his leg in a pre-season game and missed the next 11 games.

2003: Marshall Faulk
After making the cover Faulk was injured and missed some games, only making an appearance in 11. He would never have another 1000 yard season and was out of the league two seasons after appearing on the cover.

2002: Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper's 2002 season was a mixed one. He did throw for 3853 yards, but he also threw for more INTs (23) than TDs (18), and his yards per attempt were the worst of his career as a starter. The Madden curse is tenuous on this one.

2001: Eddie George
George made the cover based on a 1500 yard rushing performance in 2000. In 2001 his production dropped from 1500 yards to 900 yards, and he never recovered his former glory.

2000: Dorsey Levens/Barry Sanders
There were two versions of the cover this year. One featured Dorsey Levins, and the other featured John Madden with Barry Sanders in an action pose in the background. After his appearance on the cover Levens was injured and only played 5 games of the 2000 season. In 2001 he got back on the field but never recovered his starting job and was gone from the Packers the next season.

Sanders made the cover and then retired just before training camp, falling short of the all time rushing record.

1999: Garrison Hearst
In 1997 Hearst rushed for almost 1600 yards on a 5.1 ypc average. He added another 535 yards in receiving, for a total of over 2,000 yards from scrimmage. Then during the playoffs he suffered a nasty break, followed by complications from surgery which led to Avascular Necrosis (basically the bone dies, making it incredibly painful and difficult to use).