No one is bigger than the Madden curse—not even Megatron.
When Calvin Johnson beat out Cam Newton for the "honor" of being on the cover of Madden '13 on Wednesday, he was ecstatic. The announcement was made on ESPN2's SportsNation that Johnson won by a slim 52 percent margin.
According to ESPN.com, Johnson was shocked by the news, though perhaps not for the right reasons. Newton should be counting his blessings right now, as should Panthers fans; there's still hope for them.
As it stands, Johnson is the best receiver in the NFL. He registered a league-leading 1,681 yards in 2011 and a third-best 16 touchdowns. Only two other players in NFL history—Jerry Rice and Randy Moss—have registered at least 95 receptions, 1,600 yards and 15 TDs in a season. Afterward, he was rewarded with a new eight-year contract worth up to $132 million, which made him the highest-paid receiver in the league.
He has so much to lose.
Johnson was thrilled to have won a competition that drew almost 20 million votes. He was shocked yet flattered to have beaten out the likes of Newton, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Rodgers. Upon winning, he told ESPN:
Man, it's great. Just to see yourself on this Madden [cover] and seeing all the guys that have been on Madden? C'mon, man.
It would probably be even better to see himself holding a Lombardi trophy, but now, he'll never know.
Last year's Madden cover star, like Johnson, indicated that he wasn't scared of the curse. Peyton Hillis then rushed for only 587 yards and was plagued by a controversial narrative claiming that he decided to sit out of games not because of strep throat, but instead because of dissatisfaction regarding his contract status, according to NBC Sports.
Now, Hillis believes in the curse. In December, he told the Associated Press:
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.
Some of the other former cover stars must believe, too. Michael Vick once graced the cover of Madden, and soon thereafter, he became the Tiger Woods of the NFL. Brett Favre became a public embarrassment because of a sex scandal after appearing on the cover. Drew Brees' entire team is the collective pariah of the NFL following his stint as cover star.
Sometimes, the curse takes time to kick in. Sometimes, the consequences don't occur as quickly as they did for Hillis. But the cover curse will strike eventually.
Megatron will see.