Madden 11: Will Drew Brees Be the Next to Fall to Madden Curse?
Drew Brees' recent string of success could be coming to an end.
The Saints quarterback and Super Bowl MVP has been a marketing magnet ever since he led New Orleans to a Super Bowl victory, but his latest appearance could derail his success.
He chose to be on the cover of Madden 2011, subjecting himself to the possibility of falling to the dreaded "Madden Curse."
Ever since Barry Sanders appeared on the Madden 2000 cover in 1999, bad times have usually befallen on the man on the front. All have tried to prove it wrong. Few have succeeded.
John Madden even had the audacity to include two players on last season's cover, subjecting both to possibility of injury-filled and mediocre years. Larry Fitzgerald survived, but Troy Polamalu only played five games due to a knee injury.
Will Brees be able to avoid the misfortune? We'll look through the history and see how he compares.
Madden 2000: Barry Sanders
Although he's subtly used in the background of the 2000 cover, Sanders could be blamed for beginning the curse.
Sanders rushed for 1,491 yards and four touchdowns in 1998 and was well on his way to smashing Walter Payton's all-time rushing record.
But Madden was released and a week later, Sanders was gone from football. He had become tired of the game and decided he would retire.
The choice of Sanders seemed like a good idea after 1998. He had solidified himself as the most electrifying man in football and a perfect person to promote John Madden's product.
Instead, he started one of the worst sports curses in America. The players listed in years after him can blame him for their troubles.
Madden 2001: Eddie George
George had arguably the best season of his career after appearing on the cover, rushing for 1,509 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Based on those numbers, it'd appear that the curse didn't affect George. But when you look at his playoff performance against the Ravens, the curse may have struck at the worst time.
George and the Titans were stifled in the playoffs by eventual Super Bowl Champion Baltimore. After the 24-10 loss, George never was the running back of his early career.
He barely eclipsed 1,000 yards in two of his next three years, and finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys, only amassing 432 yards in his final year.
Madden 2002: Daunte Culpepper
Culpepper was an up-and-coming quarterback after throwing for 3,937 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2000.
He held off the curse, but fell victim 11 games into the year after going down with a back injury. He only threw 14 touchdowns while also throwing 13 interceptions in his shortened year.
After the 2002 cover, Culpepper showed some of his immense potential, but faded quickly after tossing for 4717 yards in 2004. After suffering a serious knee injury in 2005, Culpepper was done with the Vikings.
Since, he has stumbled around the league as he closes in on the end of his career. Matthew Stafford beat him out last season in Detroit.
Madden 2003: Marshall Faulk
Faulk was the most dangerous runner in the game when he appeared on the cover before the 2002 season.
He amassed over 2,000 total yards in 2001 and his versatility boosted the Rams' wide-open passing attack.
After being on the Madden cover, Faulk appeared to refute the curse, but fell victim to an ankle injury, missing the final two games. He accumulated 953 rushing yards and 537 receiving yards.
Following 2002, Faulk steadily declined as a rusher and never passed over 1,000 rushing yards in a season again. He retired after 2005.
Madden 2004: Michael Vick
Michael Vick was the hottest player in the NFL when he showed up on the Madden 2004 cover. The dual-threat quarterback seemed to be developing into the dangerous combination that people expected when he came out of Virginia Tech.
His breakout year in 2002 even prompted the makers of Madden to create him into one of the most unfair video game players ever. Vick's speed and scrambling ability in the game made him impossible to bring down.
But just five days following the games release, Vick fractured his leg and only participated in the final five games of the season.
Although he had some success following 2003, Vick has obviously had some issues since appearing on the cover. The dog-fighting scandal that surrounded him changed everyone's perception of the once-budding star.
Now, Vick tries to get his career back on track in Philadelphia, where he was used sparingly last season.
Madden 2005: Ray Lewis
EA Sports decided to turn its attention towards defense in the 2005 version, and there was no better way to show that than to put Lewis on the cover.
If there's a really strong case of the Madden Curse being false, Lewis' might be it.
The Ravens' middle linebacker still intimidates offenses every Sunday and continues to be one of the top defenders in the league even as he gets older.
He's accumulated over 100 tackles, save for 2005, since gracing the cover. A thigh injury derailed his 2005 season, but other than that, he has avoided the pitfalls of the curse.
Madden 2006: Donovan McNabb
A sports hernia sidelined McNabb after he showed his mug on the cover, forcing the quarterback to miss seven games in a tumultuous year in Philly.
McNabb and Terrell Owens feuded all season and the quarterback only led the Eagles to a 4-5 record when he was at the helm. He was on pace to throw for 4,457 yards, however.
Following 2005, McNabb has still been a solid quarterback, but injuries in playoff futility caused his departure to the Washington Redskins last off season.
Madden 2007: Shaun Alexander
Before being the cover-boy for Madden, Alexander rushed for 1,880 yards and 27 touchdowns in 2005.
After, he only combined for 1,636 yards in his final three years in the NFL.
Alexander's quick decline was painful to watch and yet another example of a player faltering after showing up on the cover.
Alexander should have known better. As a running back approaching the age of 30, he should have known the implications such a choice would have.
Madden 2008: Vince Young
Like Vick, Young was the hot, young, scrambling quarterback EA Sports knew they could market well with their game.
Also like Vick, Young hasn't lived up to his immense potential and has even had troubles with the law since his appearance, although not nearly to the same extent.
In 2007, Young was a part of a playoff team after the Titans finished 10-6. Young struggled as a quarterback, however, finishing the season with a 71.1 QB rating after tossing nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
A knee injury derailed his 2008 campaign as coach Jeff Fischer selected Kerry Collins as the quarterback, but Young earned the spot back in 2009. The quarterback led a resurgent playoff charge in his 10 starts.
Madden 2009: Brett Favre
EA Sports thought it had a safe choice in Favre as the gunslinger elected to retire following the 2007 season.
We all know what's gone on since. Favre came back for the Jets and looked horrendous in the final games of the 2008 regular season. His performance ruined the Jets' playoff chances.
Favre contemplated retirement again before joining up with his former rivals in Minnesota. The old man had arguably his best career year after tossing for 4,202 passing yards and 33 touchdowns.
Now, everyone is left wondering if Favre will come back for another year in Minnesota. The daily Favre saga seems like it will never end.
Did his appearance on the cover subconsciously force Favre into his shoddy decision making since 2007? The curse might be that powerful.
Madden 2010: Larry Fitzgerald/Troy Polamalu
Last season, EA Sports thought it could take out two birds with one stone by adding these two superstars.
Fortunately, one survived. Fitzgerald garnered 1,092 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl season.
Polamalu wasn't so lucky. A knee injury derailed his season five games into the year and the Pittsburgh wasn't the same, falling to 9-7 and missing the playoffs.
Fitzgerald will try to avoid the trouble that many Madden coverboys have encountered in years after their appearances. The receiver is working with weakened passing attack after Kurt Warner retired and Anquan Bolden was traded.
Polamalu will try to recover and put the Steelers back on track. Hopefully he's shaken off the curse and can regain his form as one of the top defenders in the league.
Will Brees Be Okay?
Now, Brees is given the daunting task of avoiding the curse.
With Brees being one of the most popular players in the NFL, no one will want to see him sustain any sort of injury as he tries to lead the Saints back to the Super Bowl.
Brees has been injury-prone earlier in his career. A shoulder injury almost derailed his career before he came to New Orleans.
Hopefully his appearance on the cover doesn't spur such injuries.
As it appears right now, it doesn't seem like Brees will falter after being selected to be on the cover. But that was the case with many of the players mentioned on the list.
All I have to say is, best of luck Drew. You'll need it.