Calvin Johnson's Fantastic Season Should Finally Put the "Madden Curse" to Bed
The Madden Curse does not exist. It doesn't now. It never did. It never will.
The question was as predictable as it was ridiculous. As soon as Calvin Johnson was announced as the cover-athlete for Madden NFL 2013, it had to be asked: Would Megatron fall victim to the "Madden Curse?"
*Cue spooky sounds*
No, just as Scooby Doo and the gang unmasked all sorts of counterfeit curses, superstitions and hauntings, Johnson revealed the "Madden Curse" as a fraud.
(Writer's Note: I wholeheartedly recommend you take a few moments to think of the awesome Scooby Doo/Transformers special this could inspire.)
How soundly has Johnson trounced the very suggestion of a curse? Well, he's leading the NFL in receiving yards with 1,428 through Week 13. That mark is almost 250 yards more than his nearest peer (Brandon Marshall). He's the cornerstone of the top passing offense in the NFL, and he's done so with less and less help around him.
Johnson is clearly the best receiver in the NFL this season and has separated himself from the names that were always listed next to him like Andre Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Wes Welker. Instead, he's being listed in the same breath as Jerry Rice as he stares down history and chases Rice's single-season receiving mark of 1,848.
Will Calvin Johnson Break Jerry Rice's Record?
Any attempt to try to pin the curse to Johnson this season is an exercise in revisionist history.
That, I suppose, is how the Madden Curse has lived on for so long. It is an idea with no real meaning.
Many people (myself included) don't believe in curses, period. For skeptics, the idea of any curse is silly. The Chicago Cubs lose because of decades upon decades of mismanagement . The Red Sox were stupid to get rid of Babe Ruth, but there's little reason he was the reason for their long suffering.
However, even if you believe in superstition in general or curses specifically, since when does a curse mean whatever the heck people want it to mean? Aren't they supposed to be specific? A curse shouldn't injure a player one year, bring a player's numbers down in the next and then get him traded or in legal trouble in the third.
That's not a curse, that's life. It's an a priori argument that accepts the presence of the curse based on the belief that it exists. The details don't matter, because people who actually believe in the Madden Curse will fit in whatever details suit them.
Zac Snyder of the Lions blog, "Side Lion Report" has been beating this drum since April. He took a look at every Madden cover since 2001 (Eddie George) and told the true story behind each consecutive player.
George is a great example of how people misremember players who have been on the cover. His best season was after he was selected for the cover. Yes, he declined shortly thereafter, but as Snyder says, "Such is life as an NFL running back."
Over and over, players were selected for the cover after phenomenal, outlying seasons. Any decline can usually be attributed to "regression to the mean." As aging running backs or mobile quarterbacks graced the cover, it would have been absurd to expect them not to take some sort of step back.
Hopefully EA Sports simply prints a game-by-game stat log of Johnson's 2012 season to include with the next game. That way, if anyone brings up next season's cover athlete as "cursed," that paper can be balled up and aimed directly at that dullard's head.
If Johnson doesn't break Rice's record, or even if he accomplishes nothing else of value this season, he has done well if the Madden Curse nonsense is finally laid to rest.
Michael Schottey is the NFL national lead writer for Bleacher Report and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. Find more of his stuff alongside other great writers at "The Go Route."
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