NFL: Will Peyton Hillis Suffer from the Madden Cover Jinx in 2011?

Shay GravesContributor IIIAugust 29, 2011

At midnight, thousands of fans of the most successful sports video game of all-time will be able to purchase the latest edition of the game in "Madden 12". This year's cover athlete, Peyton Hillis, running back of the Cleveland Browns, landed a spot on the cover after winning the fan vote.The burning question has to be asked, will Hillis suffer from the infamous Madden cover jinx?

Let's take a closer look at this. Similar to the Sports Illustrated jinx, after an athlete appears on the cover of Madden, he has a down season due to injury or just poor performance.

Of course, there is no solid correlation between a player's performance and their new found exposure, but it is a fun thing to analyze.

The last five cover athletes have each had varying results in the season they became the cover athlete. The 2011 athlete, Drew Brees, did not seem to be affected by being on the cover.

His 2010 season was just as good as his Super Bowl winning season of 2009, and some statistics actually improved. His touchdowns and completion percentage decreased, going from 34 down to 33 scores and 70.6 percent to 68.1 percent. However, he saw a spike in his passing yards from 4,388 to 4,620. 

The 2010 cover featured two athletes for the first time ever. Larry Fitzgerald represented the offensive side of the ball and Troy Polamalu represented for the defense. It was fun to see two players who recently competed in the previous season's Super Bowl share the cover.

Fitzgerald did not seem greatly affected by the so-called jinx. His receiving yards decreased 342 yards but he posted a career high in touchdowns and the third-highest reception total of his career.

Polamalu may have been your prototypical jinx. He sprained his MCL in the first game of the season, only to return in Week 6 to get injured once again. He played in a total of five games for the 2009 season. 

Brett Favre wins the award for being the oldest Madden cover athlete ever. Favre was 39 when he appeared on the 2009 cover. Favre's 2008 season could also be attributed to a jinx, as he saw a drop in production compared to previous seasons.

He threw for 3,472 yards, which was his worst total since 2003. Favre was injured in the 11th game of the season, suffering a torn bicep tendon in his right shoulder. The Jets missed the playoffs and Favre subsequently retired at the conclusion of the season, only to eventually make a return to football.     

After coming off an award-winning rookie season, Vince Young became the cover boy for the 2008 edition of the game. Young improved in almost every statistic.

The only deficiency in his game were his nine touchdowns to 17 interceptions, although his team did go 9-6 in games he started and qualified for the playoffs as the sixth seed in the AFC. 

For Hillis, there should be nothing to seriously worry about. It is obvious that a player's season can turn out in a variety of different ways. The best thing he can do is "show and prove". Regardless, the Cleveland Browns will need a good season from Hillis if they hope to have a successful season.

Also published on Beyond The Whistle