Madden Curse History: Is Drew Brees the Next To Fall?

Elliott PohnlFeatured ColumnistSeptember 8, 2010

Madden Curse History: Is Drew Brees the Next To Fall?

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    The Madden curse has certainly made its mark on the landscape of the NFL since players began gracing the cover in 1999.

    With Drew Brees proudly adorned on the cover of Madden 11, it's not crazy to imagine him following in the footsteps of many of his predecessors who found their careers in peril shortly after being the poster boys for EA Sports.

    Will misfortune befall Brees this season in New Orleans?  Only time will tell, but if it happens, we will hardly be surprised.

    Here's a look at 10 players who became victims of the Madden curse.

No. 10: Michael Vick, Madden NFL 2004

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    The Madden curse didn't make Michael Vick act like an idiot, but it did serve as a triggering mechanism for the downfall of his career.

    After leading the Falcons to a surprising Wild Card berth in 2002, the electric was a logical fit for the cover of Madden.

    In an ironic twist of fate, Vick suffered a broken right fibula just one day after Madden NFL 2004 hit the shelves.  He played in five games in 2003 and never really regained his top form in Atlanta.

    The rest is history.

No. 9: Donovan McNabb, Madden NFL 2006

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    It's never a good idea to challenge a curse, and that's exactly what McNabb did after he was chosen to be the cover boy for Madden NFL 2006.

    McNabb famously said he didn't believe in the curse, then suffered a sports hernia in the very first regular season game of 2005.  He played through the pain but eventually opted for surgery and missed the final seven games of the season as the Eagles floundered to last place in the NFC East.

    The curse lives.

No. 8: Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald, Madden NFL 2010

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    Polamalu graced the cover of last year's Madden game along with Larry Fitzgerald after the two met in one of the best Super Bowls in recent memory.

    In his first regular season game, Polamalu was showing he could live up to the hype when he suffered a torn MCL.  The injury limited his 2009 season to five games.

    Fitzgerald stayed healthy and fared well in 2009, although he did average a career-low 11 yards per reception.

    Remember, the curse doesn't always strike right away.

No. 7: Dorsey Levens, Madden NFL 2000

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    Dorsey Levens found himself in the spotlight after divisional foe and Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders retired before the start of the 1999 season, leaving EA Sports scrambling for a cover boy.

    Levens was a bizarre selection, especially after he had missed most of the 1998 season with a knee injury.

    The curse had mercy on poor Dorsey's body initially, and he rushed for over 1,000-yards in 1999.

    His nagging knee problems bothered him throughout the season and eventually led to his release in 2001.  Levens hung around for a few more years with the Eagles and Giants before finally retiring in 2004.

No. 6: Marshall Faulk, Madden NFL 2003

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    The best player of the greatest show on turf was a natural for the cover of Madden NFL 2003.  The fact that Marshall Faulk played on turf also served as a contributing factor to his ankle problems.

    But it was the curse that really got him.  Faulk accumulated nearly 1,500 yards of total offense in 2002, but played through injuries and showed signs of slowing down.

    After that, he was never the same.  His numbers dropped sharply and he retired from football at age 32.

No. 5: Eddie George, Madden NFL 2001

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    The Madden curse let the reliable Eddie George enjoy his best season while gracing the cover in 2000, a year after his Titans had nearly upset the favored Rams in the Super Bowl.

    George earned All-Pro honors and set career highs in yards and touchdowns, but the Titans overuse of their star back contribute to his demise.

    The curse began to strike in the 2001 season, when he averaged a mere three yards per carry.  He was out of the NFL just four years after gracing the cover of Madden.

No. 4: Garrison Hearst, Madden NFL 1999

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    Here's a fun trivia question: Who was the first player to grace the cover of Madden?  If you said Garrison Hearst, you are correct!

    The 1999 cover boy enjoyed a tremendous regular season in 1998, but suffered a horrendous ankle injury in the NFC playoffs and missed the following two seasons.

    He returned in 2001 and recorded a 1,200-yard season, but there is no question the injury derailed him during what should have been the prime of his NFL career.

No. 3: Daunte Culpepper, Madden NFL 2002

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    The newest star on the NFL landscape, Culpepper's big arm proved to be a perfect compliment to a powerful Vikings offense that nearly made the Super Bowl in 2000 before falling to the Falcons in the NFC Championship.

    The 2001 season began the downfall of Daunte, as the Vikings sputtered to a 4-7 record before he suffered a knee injury that ended his season.

    He bounced back with two strong seasons in 2003 and 2004 before the injury bug bit him again.

    Culpepper figures to have a great shot to make the cover of UFL 2K 11, available now at Family Dollar outlets nationwide.

No. 2: Brett Favre, Madden NFL 2009

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    Brett Favre's constant on-again off-again flirtation with retirement have caused so many people so much pain.

    That includes EA Sports, which proudly graced the cover of Madden 2009 with Favre's image in a Packers uniform.

    Then suddenly, No. 4 decided to return to football, only with the Jets.  The video game cover was no longer nostalgic, it was just wrong.

    EA re-released a special cover with Favre in a Jets uniform.  And in a Jets uniform, Favre got off to a good start before a shoulder injury derailed his season and brought his career in New York to an inglorious end.

    The curse let up last season, but could strike again in 2010 with Favre continuing to deal with his chronic ankle problem.

No. 1: Shaun Alexander, Madden NFL 2007

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    Shaun Alexander was a bright young star who averaged over five yards per carry to help lead the Seahawks to the Super Bowl in 2005.  He graced the cover of Madden NFL 2007 and appeared poised for an MVP-caliber season.

    Alexander, who set an NFL record with 28 touchdowns and easily won league MVP honors in 2005, suffered a broken foot in the third week of his 2006 season.

    He returned later in the season, but was clearly not 100 percent and averaged under four yards per carry.

    Alexander never regained his burst and left Seattle just two years later.  He was out of football by 2009.