There have been players featured on the covers of John Madden Football games since 1999 even though the franchise first appeared in 1988. For the first few years the box art for the annual game featured John Madden himself and in the later years, just before switching to the "cover athlete" format, generic scenes of football with nondescript players.
Since 1999 we have counted 12 players that have been on the covers (two in 2000). With the conclusion of the 2008 NFL regular season yesterday and the fact that we checked out the worst college sports cover athletes not too long ago, we figured we would take a look at past Madden cover athletes and rank the effect of the "Madden Curse" on each.
The curse showed up a year late and just enough to spoil some stats for Eddie George. George had rushed for over 1200 yards for five years straight including the cover season where he rushed for 1509 yards and had 14 touchdowns. The next year, in 2001 (the year featured on the cover with him) he dropped to 939 yards and five touchdowns and missed the Pro Bowl.
The only defensive player on this list is Ray Lewis. He has been a beast in Baltimore for more than a decade. Showing no fear, "The Curse" took down Ray Lewis too just like an opposing quarterback.
He broke his wrist which made him miss just one game but he went from his career high of 6 interceptions to his only season without one. The following season he missed 10 games due to injuries as well. He has been fine ever since and is probably in the midst of a Hall of Fame career.
Barry Sanders is a very unique inclusion on this list for a few reasons. First he was not a featured athlete on the cover, he is seen in the background behind John Madden's shoulder. He was picked to be on the cover of the game but "the curse" struck and he retired abruptly before the season started.
The image of Vince Young celebrating a college championship in all of the confetti is probably one of the most recognizable sports images of the last few years. Sadly in Tennessee the images they most recognize are of him on the bench or at a party with his shirt off.
Vince Young went from their hero to threatening retirement and being benched. He is still young but it appears that the Titans are better off with Kerry Collins throwing the ball so his future is seemingly uncertain. He will get friendly marks because his story is still developing.
The Barry Sanders replacement was victimized almost as quickly as Sanders. After coming off a 1000 yard season with nine touchdowns the year before, Levens responded with the help of "the curse" to gain 810 less yards and 6 less touchdowns. From that point on he became a reserve player and landed on a couple other teams.
My favorite player of all time, I have to throw that out there to be fair. I remember where I was when he hurt his leg against the Ravens in the preseason game in his first action since the cover. The curse struck hard and fast as he missed the first 11 games of the season.
The year before Falcons went into Green Bay and became the first team ever to beat the Packers on the "frozen tundra" in the playoffs (I was there). Then the Baltimore game happened and the Falcons went 2-10 without Vick, keeping the franchise from having back-to-back winning seasons-something they have still never done.
It seemed like he may have shaken the curse off of him since he had three decent seasons following, including two Pro-Bowl appearances, an NFC South Division Championship, and another playoff win (I was at as well). Then he went to jail. I will blame that and Bobby Petrino on the curse. Or should I blame the curse on Bobby Petrino?
Check out the rest of the list and read how the scores were decided on at PWN or DIE!