The Madden Curse plagues NFL stars each year. It is an honor to be asked to be on the cover, but should players turn down the opportunity in fear of inheriting the injury bug?
After his Super Bowl winning season, Aaron Rodgers will be next in line to Madden's cover boy. After suffering two concussions in 2010, could an even bigger blow be on the horizon?
Let's take a trip back in time and see just how the players who received the honors of gracing the cover played in their honorary season.
Barry Sanders was the first selection for the 2000 Madden cover. Too bad he retired one week before training camp. Talk about cursing your entire team.
Barry was one of, if not the, greatest running back in the NFL. He might have been small, but his quickness was unmatched.
If he didn't say agree to be on the Madden cover, maybe we would have had a few more years in awe of Sanders.
Eddie George's 2000 season was one of his best of his career. He finished with 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns. He led the Titans to a No. 1 seed in the playoffs.
George might have eluded the curse during the regular season, but it reared it's ugly head come playoff time. George had a case of fumbleitis in the postseason which led the Titans to an early exit.
George might have had a career year, but when the games meant the most, the Madden curse came out on top.
Daunte Culpepper was coming off one of his greatest statistical seasons. 2000 belonged to Culpepper and the Vikings. He led the Vikings to a 11-5 record, a division title and a victory in the NFC Divisional Round before a loss to the Giants in the Championship Round.
His stats were exceptional. Culpepper threw for 33 TDs and nearly 4,000 yards.
2001 was a season for Culpepper to forget. He only lasted for 11 games before a season-ending knee injury. His 14 TDs and 13 INTs came as a surprise since he played at such a high level in 2000.
This was the first serious injury that Culpepper sustained and might had been some foreshadowing for how the rest of his career would play out.
Culpepper is still cursed by his Madden cover it seems.
Faulk was always a threat in the running and passing game. He was a perfect fit for the offensive system in St. Louis. It was no longer a match made in heaven after he graced the Madden cover in 2003.
His 2002 season ended with a sprained ankle and finished with less than 1,000 rushing yards for the first time in his career.
It was all down hill from there. He never eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards again and had trouble playing a full season until his final year in 2005.
Vick had an impressive 2002 season, rushing for 777 yards and passing for nearly 3,000. He seemed to be the greatest dual threat QB since Randall Cunningham.
In 2003, just days after the video game the game was released, Vick fractured his fibula after five games. He came back with a vengeance after the injury, but had some off-the-field issues as some of us might recall.
Vick has seemed to reverse the curse after his stint in jail, but spending time in the slammer is enough of a Madden curse.
Nothing can take down the age-less Ray Lewis right? Not so fast. In 2005 he was selected to be the poster boy for the Madden game.
It was his first season without an interception and he broke his wrist causing him to miss one game. The curse carried over into 2006, as he missed 10 games with a thigh injury.
It seems like nothing could stop this beast, but the Madden curse had its way with this ferocious linebacker.
The Madden curse really took it's hold on McNabb and has seemed to never let go. Coming off a great 2004 campaign, where he threw for 31 TDs and only eight INTs, 2005 was not too fond of McNabb.
In the first game of the 2005 season, McNabb came down with a sports hernia. He was only able to take the field for nine games and missed his first Pro Bowl after being elected to the team for five straight seasons.
Nothing has seemed to go right for McNabb since then. His seasons have been injury riddled and this year he was benched in favor of Rex Grossman. Could it get any worse?
Coming off a 27 TD season, Alexander was on top of the world. He was a force to be reckoned with in 2005. 2006 rolled around and he came crashing back to earth.
He fractured his ankle and missed six games. He was never the same running back and his career has been in a downward spiral ever since.
After having five straight double digit TD seasons, Alexander has only found pay dirt 11 times since his Madden cover.
Young seemed to evade the Madden curse in 2007. He was able to lead the Titans to the playoffs, passed for 2,500 yards and rushed for nearly 400 yards.
Maybe the curse decided to bite Young the next season. In 2008, he only took the field in three games and has since had a plethora of off-the-filed issues. He seems to be teamless going into 2011 as Bud Adams has expressed interest in releasing or trading the Texas Longhorn.
Young has all of the potential in the world, but his Madden curse has really put his career on the wrong path.
After retiring, un-retiring, being told to take a hike by the Packers and signing with the Jets, Favre had 2008 for the ages.
Favre turned the Jets into an early playoff favorite, but his age caught up with him during the final stretch of the season. He lost four of the final five games and ended the season with 22 TDs and 22 INTs.
Things have been less than stellar for the future Hall of Famer as he had to withstand sexual harassment accusations, his famous games-started streak came to an end and finally decided to hang up his spikes. At least that is what we are left to believe.
2010 was the first year that the Madden cover cursed two players.
Polamalu only played five games due to nagging knee injuries and the Steelers missed the playoffs in his absence. Troy has seemed to have injury problems ever since, missing two games at the end of the season due to an achilles strain.
Fitzgerald eluded the curse in 2009, having another fantastic season with Kurt Warner calling the shots. He finished the year with 97 receptions, 1,092 yards and 13 TDs. The real curse for Fitz was the retirement of Kurt Warner. It seems that he could be cursed for years to come.
For all intents and purposes Drew Brees seemed to escape the injury curse and still produced at a high enough level to lead the Saints to a playoff birth.
According to Gregg Rosenthal, this might not be so true. Rosethall reported that on September 26th, Brees sustained a knee injury against the Atlanta Falcons. Keeping this injury concealed, Brees played through the rest of the season, but was not his best.
His 33 TDs were the second highest of his career, but his 22 INTs was a career high. According to the article, the pain was almost too unbearable, leading Brees to make mistakes calling and executing plays. He will need microfracture surgery this offseason as well.
The Seahawks were lucky to catch Brees during his Madden cover premier this postseason.
Keeping with the trend of Super Bowl winning quarterbacks, Aaron Rodgers could be next in line for this years Madden cover. I would imagine Ted Thompson is going to ask his star QB to steer clear of this honor. He might even suggest a WWE cover instead since his "Championship Belt" celebration has taken the world by storm.
Vick could be another ideal pick for the 2012 cover and as a Giant's fan, I more than welcome this selection.