Carolina Panthers Cam Newton: Why the Madden Curse Is Bogus

Nader KtaitCorrespondent IIApril 12, 2012

Carolina Panthers Cam Newton: Why the Madden Curse Is Bogus

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    A couple days ago, I woke tired and not ready to go to work.  I ended up putting on a pair of socks that did not match.  Did I have a bad day?  Nope.  It actually wasn't a bad day at all.  Likewise, I'm pretty sure at some point in my life I've walked under a ladder, broken a mirror and failed to forward chain emails, and still turned out okay.

    The Madden curse seems to be more serious for some us die-hard NFL fans than my examples about wearing socks that don't match, walking under a ladder, breaking a mirror or failing to forward a chain letter and/or email.  The superstition becomes even more serious if Cam Newton ends up on the cover of Madden NFL 13.

    Newton has some tough competition though; Patrick Willis, Aaron Rodgers and Calvin Johnson are among the final four.  If you kept up with last football season, saying that these other players were impressive is an understatement.  

    Along with Newton, if any of these other finalists get chosen to be on the cover of Madden NFL 13, the player chosen is in great risk of having a bad season (according the history of the curse).  

    At this point, there is no guarantee that Newton will be on the cover of Madden 13.  But if he is, I intend to persuade Panther fans that we have nothing to worry about.  I believe that the Madden curse is a subject that is a matter of coincidence, suspect to exaggeration and easily applicable to players with questionable personalities and who make bad decisions.

    To note: I know that this topic, to some of you, seems ridiculous to even talk about.  But as I looked into it and started writing about it, I began to think about how interesting it is because it gives us another opportunity to decide what counts as a disastrous or successful season for Newton. This will be a topic that’ll be discussed in the last slide.  In the next slides, let's discuss why I think this Madden curse is kind of bogus. 

First Factor of the Madden Curse: Injuries

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    There are two things that could contribute to a disastrous season: injuries and poor performance.  What do I mean by a disastrous season in this case?  Let me give an example: If a player chosen to be on the cover of Madden suffers an injury the following year, then than player must be cursed right?

    Disastrous might be too strong of a word, but in some cases it might apply. Let's take a look some disastrous seasons that affect good running backs.  Take for instance the season when Peyton Hillis made the cover of Madden NFL 2012.  

    Compared to his previous season, Hillis’ 2011 season didn't go so well for him.  He missed five season games due to hamstring injury, which he re-injured later on in the season.

    Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in 2010, but only rushed for 587 yards and scored three touchdowns in 2011.  Does this mean that Hillis became an example of the Madden curse?  Hillis definitely thought so.  Check out what he had to say on the curse via ESPN:  

    "Things didn't work in my favor this year. There's a few things that happened this year that made me believe in curses. Ain't no doubt about it."

    Lets take a look at two players who weren’t on a Madden cover but still had bad seasons after they had really good ones.

    In the 2009 season, DeAngelo Williams rushed for 1,117 yards and scored seven touchdowns.  In the following season, Williams only rushed for 361 yards and scored no touchdowns.  What happened?  Williams got injured.  This would have happened whether or not he was on the cover of Madden.

    In 2010, Matt Forte rushed for 1,069 yards and scored six touchdowns.  The following year, Forte got injured and rushed for 997 (not much lower) but only scored three touchdowns.  And just like Williams, Forte got injured.  Likewise, Forte wasn't on the cover of Madden.

    So what do Williams, Forte and Hillis have in common?  Sometimes players get injured, and it doesn’t matter if you’re on the cover of Madden.  You can still get injured.

    Was it the Madden curse that caused Hillis’ injury or was it just coincidence?  Or maybe it was both.  We are talking about RBs, right?  These players take quite a beating out there on the field. 

    So I’m going to go with coincidence on this one.

Second Factor of the Madden Curse: Poor Performance

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    Of course, this category isn’t a category of its own.  A lot of times when a player gets injured his overall performance is also affected.  But let’s consider how the overall performance of a player is affected without blaming any injuries (as if the injury was solely to blame).

    This task might be especially difficult, considering players will often blame an injury on their poor performance.  I’ll do my best to find an example that is not of that type.

    If someone argues that everyone who ends up on the cover of Madden will catch the Madden curse, then there’s usually a good way to defeat that argument.  All you need is a counterexample; a case where someone ended up on the cover but didn’t get the curse.

    The first one that comes to mind is Drew Brees, quarterback for the New Orleans Saints.  I have trouble believing that Brees was a victim of the curse, especially when we look at his numbers since he was on the cover of Madden NFL 2011.

    In 2009, Brees threw for 4,388 yards and 34 touchdowns.  The following year, Brees actually threw for more yards, 4,620, and 33 touchdowns.  The numbers that are suspect to the Madden curse, however, are the ones on his interceptions, which went from 11 to 22 interceptions. 

    Does make Brees a victim of the curse?  I don’t think so.  There are some other things that people like to point to, such as the unfortunate situation with Bounty Gate, an issue that Brees’ curse should not be blamed for.  Claiming that the bounty scandal came about as a result of the Madden curse, seems to me, just ridiculous.  If anything, it was his teammates doing, not Brees'.

    So if you’re to ask me whether the Madden curse affected Drew Brees, I’d definitely say no.

Other Factors to the Madden Curse

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    At times, I think the Madden curse affects players that are just prone to finding themselves in trouble.  It has little to do with bad luck and more to do with judgment of character.

    Michael Vick was on the cover of Madden NFL 2004 and did break his fibula the following year.  It was unfortunate for Vick and his team, who ended their season 5-11.  However, if we are looking at the long-term effects of being on the cover of Madden, it seems that Vick’s trouble extended beyond his performance and injuries.  To be honest, Vick’s troubles were more of a result of his personal life choices and character which earned him a criminal record.

    On the same note, Vince Young also had some long-term troubles with his team, despite his impressive performance in his earlier years as a Titan.  Young, who was on the cover of Madden NFL 2008, was the starting quarterback of the Tennessee Titans. Young, however, would lose his job and eventually become a backup to Michael Vick on the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Young’s troubles began in 2008, a season after he threw for 2,546 yards and nine touchdowns.  That season, Young ended up throwing 219 yards and one touchdown, after enduring some injuries.  His disputes with this his teammates and head coach led to his release and new role as a backup quarterback for the Eagles.

    I think the main lesson we can learn from Vick and Young is that it wasn’t the Madden curse that caused their later troubles. If anything, it was a combination of their personalities and life choices.

Cam Newton: Will This QB Be Cursed?

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    Now we are at the point of examining how all these factors could make Newton a likely candidate of the Madden curse.

    It’s really easy to come up with reasons why Newton will likely be more cursed than Rogers or Willis.  Newton is not just a rookie, but perhaps one of the best rookie quarterbacks that has ever entered the league.

    He put up some huge numbers and some of those numbers seem almost unrealistic.  Newton threw for 4,051 yards and scored 21, not including the 14 touchdowns that he ran in himself. 

    The expectations for Newton this upcoming year are high, and he’s perhaps the one to blame for that.  

    But I’m curious to see what other people think constitutes Newton as a victim of the Madden curse (that is, even he does get one the cover of Madden). 

    Will it be another losing record?  Fewer touchdowns?  An injury? 

    Here’s a thought: What if Newton’s numbers go down but the Panthers end up with a winning record?  Or even win the NFC South division?  Has Newton still been cursed if he leads his team to a winning season but his numbers significantly drop?

    Honestly, I don't believe in the curse, so I'm opening up the floor to you guys.