Needless to say, it has not been an ideal start to the 2011 season for Peyton Hillis.
The Madden Curse may be simply psychological, or perhaps its nothing but a repeated coincidence. But so far, it seems as real as anything.
Hillis, the man who was voted to be put on the cover of the new Madden Football video game after breaking out for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns on 270 carries in 2010, has really struggled so far this season, gaining just 211 yards and two touchdowns on 60 carries through four games (he missed the game against the Miami Dolphins).
And not only is he now out with a hamstring injury, there are now rumors of Hillis requesting a trade.
Could the Madden Curse be hampering Hillis' supposed attempt to get out of Cleveland? I guess it depends on how much you believe in it.
Although it may end up being a popular sentiment, I wonder how much NFL coaches and managers actually believe in the Curse. If Hillis does in fact want out of Cleveland, interested parties won't be forgetful of the great performances he displayed last season.
Based on his play so far this season, however, I could definitely see negotiators milking the situation as much as possible. It's been clear that he hasn't been the same player this season, and anyone who might be interested in him will try to give up less for him because of that. Those concerns would be legitimate too, because he has never had sustained success.
In addition, there will likely be fewer suitors because of his play, which will drive his price down even further for lack of competition.
The bottom line is, do you believe the Madden Curse is what has caused Hillis to struggle this season? If so, then you would have to believe it has dampened his trade prospects.
However, I think Hillis would have had these struggles regardless of his placement on the Madden cover. The Browns aren't the greatest team in the world by any means, and now that Hillis is a known commodity and teams have had a full season to figure out how to stop him, his production was bound to go down.
In that respect, I think the Madden Curse is a moot point for Hillis. But either way, he will need to start performing better if he wants to attract anyone to his services.