Are any of these players—Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Willis and Calvin Johnson—on one of the rivals of your favorite team? If the answer is yes, vote for that player to be on the cover of Madden 2013.
Those are the four unfortunate finalists to be the face of the iconic video game. The winner will be chosen by fans' vote, and not only the fate of the cover hangs in the balance, but the entire well-being of a football team.
The Madden curse looms for the winner.
Curses are just a bunch of mumbo-jumbo, you might be telling yourself right now. Well, they aren't, and the history of this one proves it.
John Madden used to grace the cover every year, but in 1999, they had star running back Garrison Hearst take the honor, and the curse began. Take a look at this string of unfortunate events and then you tell me if you still think it could just be coincidence.
2012: Peyton Hillis
Hillis had all kinds of problems. It started with contract issues with the Browns, and he also had his share of injuries. His production was nowhere near where it was the previous year.
2011: Drew Brees
Brees had a fine and healthy year. However, his Saints lost in the Wild Card round to the only team to ever make the playoffs with a losing record, the Seattle Seahawks.
2010: Troy Polamalu/Larry Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald had a fine injury-free season, but Polamalu was only able to play in five games due to knee problems.
2009: Brett Favre
This was the year Favre was traded to the Jets. He suffered from injuries later in the year as his play and the team's unraveled.
2008: Vince Young
The curse was a bit delayed with Young. He had a good season and led the Titans to the playoffs. He has never been the same since.
2007: Shaun Alexander
Alexander missed six games with a fractured foot, and his career was all but over.
2006: Donovan McNabb
McNabb missed seven seasons with a sports hernia. He had made the Pro Bowl five straight seasons leading up to this year and hasn't made it since.
2005: Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis only missed one game this season, but that's just because he out-toughed the curse. He had a broken wrist.
2004: Michael Vick
It only took a day for the curse to get Vick. The day following the game's release, Vick broke his leg and missed 11 games. He also managed to run into a few problems following the injury.
2003: Marshall Faulk
Faulk battled through ankle injuries as his production fell off the map and never returned.
2002: Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper's season ended after a knee surgery 11 games in. He was struggling before the surgery and has never come close to regaining his top form.
2001: Eddie George
George was healthy and productive. He led the Titans to the No. 1 seed in the AFC and then ran into some fumbling problems in the first round of the playoffs and was a big reason the Titans lost.
2000: Barry Sanders
The elusive Sanders avoided the Madden curse...by retiring after the game was released.
1999: Garrison Hearst
The man who started it all. Hearst suffered a devastating break of his ankle in the playoffs. It caused him to miss two years, and he was never close to the same player.
Looking at that list, what fan is going to vote for their player to be on the cover? It is certain doom.
Now, I'm not telling you to wish injury upon your rival's star player. That is far too mean-spirited and not the point here.
I'm saying that the point here should be to limit the damage. Someone is going to be negatively affected by being on the cover. The mountain of evidence tells us it is inevitable. Might as well do your part to make sure it doesn't hurt your team.