The Madden Curse, much like the SI Cover Curse, is an affliction that many athletes cannot overcome.
This year, however, the curse should be broken since the cover athlete is now retired.
Unless some act of providence prevents Brett Favre from walking ever again, it's pretty safe to assume that the "Madden Curse" will end this season. There's always the flip side though, that the curse might actually work against Favre in retirement, causing him to flip his tractor-mower or one of his oak trees to fall on him.
Come to think of it, maybe Favre retired because he knew that he was going to be on the cover, and didn't want to fall victim to the curse. Smart man, indeed.
That said, let's take a look back at the cover models for Madden's game and what really happened to all of them.
- 1999 - Garrison Hearst (SF)
After an astounding 1998 season (1570 rush yards), Hearst was selected as the first cover boy for John Madden's game. In 1999, he led the 49ers to a divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, where he broke his ankle and was sidelined from football until 2001.
- 2000 - Dorsey Levens (GB)
After being one of the leagues best running backs, Levens' appearance on the cover of Madden 2000 led to his downfall. After being used primarily as a reserve RB in 1999 and 2000, he was released by the Green Bay Packers in 2001, bounced around the league, and essentially out of the game of football by 2006.
- 2001 - Eddie George (TEN)
Though the season he played while he was on the cover was spectacular, the season after was abysmal. George averaged only 3 yards per carry, and rushed for only 939 yards in the 2001 season. His fumble in a divisional playoff game between the Titans and Ravens led to a Ray Lewis touchdown, and a Titan loss.
- 2002 - Daunte Culpepper (MIN)
After a stellar 2000 season, Culpepper struggled to make things click in 2001, throwing for only 14 TD passes, and 13 interceptions in 11 games (during which he hurt his back and was sidelined for the rest of the season).
- 2003 - Marshall Faulk (STL)
After leading the Rams to the Super Bowl two years in a row, Faulk rushed for less than 1000 yards, had a bum ankle, and the Rams missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record.
- 2004 - Michael Vick (ATL)
A mere five days after the game was released, Vick suffered a broken ankle, causing him to miss all but five regular season games. The Falcons ended up with a 5-11 record, well off their 9-6-1 from the previous season. And Vick is now in jail.
- 2005 - Ray Lewis (BAL)
After becoming the first defensive player to be featured on the cover, Lewis failed to post a single interception (though in the pre-cover season he posted six). Lewis performed fairly well that year, though he broke his arm in week 15, and the Ravens missed the playoffs after winning the division the year before.
- 2006 - Donovan McNabb (PHI)
After leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2005, and finishing his 2004 season with just under 4000 yards, McNabb suffered a sports hernia during the 2005-06 season, where he aggravated it during a game against the Dallas Cowboys. McNabb elected to have season-ending surgery on the hernia, leading to the Eagles missing the playoffs
- 2007 - Shaun Alexander (SEA)
After having one of the best statistical seasons in NFL history, Alexander fractured a bone in his foot. The fracture caused him to miss six starts, and dropped his rushing yardage to under 1000 for the first time since 2000. His touchdown record was broken by LT (31 in 16), and Alexander has now been released from the Seahawks.
- 2008 - Vince Young (TEN)
After appearing on the cover, Young threw 2,456 yards with nine passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions in the season of his cover appearance.
- 2009 - Brett Favre (GB)
After having the season of his lifetime, Favre decided to retire after the 2007 season, despite having one of the best offenses in the league. Some speculated that his retirement had something to do with the Packers not signing T.O., or that he was simply ready to move to another team (!). Favre himself has categorically denied this, but one has to wonder if the curse will have any strength for a retired player.
Will the Madden Curse rear its head this season, or will Brett Favre's retirement end that? Hopefully the curse will die with Vince Young, and Favre will come out of his cover year unscathed, especially if he decides to come back.