The Madden Curse Lives, Claims Brett Favre as Latest Victim

John McCloryAnalyst IJanuary 8, 2009

Curses aren't real. Never have been, never will be.

When Boston Red Sox fans celebrated their 2004 World Series victory, it marked the end of eighty-six years of torture. The "curse" was "broken," after all. The Curse of the Bambino was the sole cause of their shortcomings. The ghost of Babe Ruth realized he had been a pain the neck long enough and decided to move on with his afterlife.

Sounds pretty absurd, doesn't it? That's because it is.

When fans or media members bring up the possibility of a curse holding their beloved team back, that's when you know their reasoning, logic and answers are bone dry.

Surely it can't be management's fault.

Our losing has nothing to do with our total lack of chemistry.

Handing out a plethora of bad contracts that will leave our team in financial peril for years to come isn't the reason for our failures.

Sound familar?

Player X, who your team traded a century ago, must be the reason you can't win The Big One. Clearly it has nothing to do with any form of incompetency.

The bottom line: Curses are the biggest joke in sports and nothing is more laughable.

But assuming someone, or something, is cursed is also tons of fun and entertainment.

The Madden Curse is the most notable and entertaining of the on-going "curses."

To understand the Madden Curse, one has to be familiar with the current announcer and former coach's video game, Madden NFL football.

In short, the basis for the "curse" is that the NFL talent who graces the cover of John Madden's popular video game, will be doomed from then on, whether it be by serious injury, significant drop in numbers or unfortunate circumstances.

Prior to 1999, only John Madden's mugshot appeared on the cover of the game. Since then, every annual installment features one of the league's top players.

The following is a list of players who have appeared on the cover of Madden and the "curse-like" events or ailments that mysteriously followed:

2000 cover - Barry Sanders: On the verge of breaking Walter Payton's NFL rushing record, Sanders made jaws drop when he announced his retirement—without reason—only a few days before training camp began.

2001 cover - Eddie George: Coming off a recent Super Bowl appearance, George endured the worst statistical season of his career, failing to break 1000 yards rushing for the first time and missing out on the playoffs.

2002 cover - Daunte Culpepper: Culpepper's interceptions grew, his touchdowns dropped and his health began to decline steadily. The Vikings recorded one of their worst seasons in over a decade.

2003 cover - Marshall Faulk: More of the same in Faulk's case—decline in stats. the following seasons and severe injuries, which caused him to miss the 2006 season in its entirety. Faulk officially retired in 2007 but had been gradually fading away since the 2003 season.

2004 cover - Michael Vick: No explanation needed here. Dude's in jail. Enough said.

2005 cover - Ray Lewis: The only cover-man to somewhat defy the odds, Lewis remained in decent health and only saw a minuscule drop in tackles and forced turnovers.

2006 cover - Donovan McNabb: Like George, McNabb was coming off a recent Super Bowl appearance and career-year. However, he suffered a hernia to start the season and was unable to perform up to his abilities as a result. McNabb opted for season-ending surgery to correct the hernia. The Eagles went 5-11.

2007 cover - Shaun Alexander: The trend continued. Alexander previously had a career-year and MVP-caliber season, only to find himself sidelined by a foot injury and currently not on an NFL roster.

2008 cover - Vince Young: Young is maybe the saddest case thus far after enjoying an illustrious college career at Texas. Then rumors of possible retirement began to swirl around after his rookie season, he hasn't lived up to anyone's expectations and may be in a state of emotional turmoil as a result.

This brings us to the 2009 cover featuring the will-he-or-won't-he-retire headache that is Brett Favre.

The "curse" of John Madden and his video game cover kiss of death, certainly made a significant dent in Favre's recently completed season, and possibly his career in some ways.

Favre's touchdowns matched his interceptions (22 each) and his new team, the New York Jets, missed the playoffs after they were all but declared AFC East Champs to start the season.

Additionally, Favre endured frequent shoulder trouble as the Jets lost four of their last five games to finish the season. He threw nine interceptions in those five games, which is extreme even for Favre.

Oddly enough, the Madden 2009 cover depicts Favre in a Green Bay Packers get-up. The significance of it is unclear, but it could potentially be spun into some sort of Madden Curse irony web. After all, the Pack did underachieve and finish 6-10.


So, is the Madden Curse the real deal? Um, no, probably not.

Is it intriguing to go back in time and review all the talent that is believed to be a victim of Madden's video game cover? Oh my, yes.

In their heart of hearts, fans don't generally believe in the Madden Curse, at least not entirely. Although, San Diego Charger fans might strongly disagree with that statement judging by their Save L.T. campaign from last year's cover.

But that was just for good measure, right?

Curses aren't real, but for the sake of sanity, maybe John Madden should revert back to his old ways and grace the cover of his own game from now on.