Every year, as EA Sports' list of potential cover athletes narrows, the public anxiously awaits, wondering who will be the next Madden Cover Curse victim.
On August 30, 2011, the newest addition to the "Madden NFL" video game franchise will be released, and the Cleveland Browns’ Peyton Hillis will be the featured cover athlete. While the city of Cleveland has awaited some overdue recognition for its football team, it has also been deprived of promise and potential.
If the alleged Madden Cover Curse has its way, Cleveland will get a load of potential, in the form of potential energy. Potential energy is “stored energy,” like a still rubber band when it is stretched…or, being a bit less literal, a running back sitting on the injured reserve list, chomping at the bit to play!
For better than a decade, the controller classic has been associated with players who seemingly come upon misfortune.
As a strong correlation began between the cover athletes and bad luck, the public began insisting on the Madden Cover Curse, a plague that has flattened some of the game’s finest athletes.
Beginning in 1999, the game franchise began placing NFL players on its cover, a positive step forward from the Madden self-portraits that so vainly displayed the spokesman throughout the earlier part of the 1990s.
Most people believe the odd trend began two years later, in 2001. Madden 2000 featured images of Barry Sanders in the background, with limited editions displaying Dorsey Levens. Barry retired of his own free will, while Levens played well.
Yet, there is a contingent of believers who pre-date the curse, arguing that it began in 1999, citing that Barry Sanders was in the background and Levens appeared on limited copies of the game, thus eliminating them from curse eligibility by some undisclosed Madden by-laws.
On the 1999 edition, the cover was graced by 49ers running back Garrison Hearst. In Week 1 of the 1998 season (the Madden NFL franchise dates itself for the upcoming year), his 98-yard overtime touchdown run planted seeds for a Madden Cover Blessing.
Fate merely smirked as Hearst broke his leg in the first quarter of the 49ers playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons.
Whether you believe in the curse or not, there is no denying that an odd phenomenon is occurring. To put perspective on the events, I will rank the cover athletes in ascending order based on the impact that the cover curse had on them.
Including Hearst, there have been 13 athletes to arguably be affected. This list will not include Barry Sanders, who will tell you that retirement was the best thing for him. Another absence is Dorsey Levens, who had a stellar year, though it can be argued his career rapidly deteriorated after 2000.
Before the players are ranked, please enjoy the following poem, inspired by these events that have conspiracy theorists in mild euphoria and cover athletes in seeming dysphoria.
COVER CURSE EN ODE
Johnny Madden was his name,
Creator of a football game.
Athletes became gaming lovers
Longing to be on his cover!
BOOM! WHAP! SPLAT! POW!
Duck and cover, Holy Cow!
BOOM! WHAP! POW! SPLAT!
Where's the cover athlete at?
SPLAT! POW! BOOM! WHAP!
He's wearing the Ace bandage wrap!
SPLAT! POW! WHAP! BOOM!
'Cuz Madden's cover preludes DOOM!
Palumalu, Brees and Marshall's
Ligaments were all in parcels!
"What time is it?!" Ray Lewis chanted.
"Not game time!" his team recanted.
Alexander's seven scores
Were pitiful, pathetic, poor...
Nine touchdowns cured Young's dejection,
Too bad for all the interceptions!
Madden started keeping tabs
On healthy Donovan McNabb,
Who blew off critic's "curse" reactions
But it was tougher than Tinactin!
CRUNCH! SMOOSH! KABOOM! CRACK!
Where's the Eagles' quarterback?
CRUNCH! SMOOSH! CRACK! KABOOM!
He's layin' in the rehab room!
KABOOM! CRACK! SMOOSH! CRUNCH!
Despite that Chunky soup for lunch…
KABOOM! CRACK! CRUNCH! SMOOSH!
The curse kicked in his wing-ed tush!
From Eddie George to Michael Vick
The cover was like arsenic!
Money was the honey-suckle
That led to knees and ankles buckled!
For Madden's cover is the "how"
To automatic "cash cow now!"
Despite the money 'twas projected,
Our superstars were left dejected.
Seasons fell right off of the brink
And drained right down the kitchen sink
As major athletes cover-graced,
A bloody bulls-eye for a brace.
SMACK! THOOM! POP! POW!
Golly-jeepers, tell me how!
SMACK! THOOM! POW! POP!
To make this cover curse just stop!
POP! POW! THOOM! SMACK!
No end's in sight for this attack…
POP! POW! SMACK! THOOM!
So long as Madden's saying, "BOOM!"