The Madden Curse: Polamalu Goes Down, Is Larry Fitzgerald Next?

Greg RiotAnalyst ISeptember 11, 2009

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Safety Troy Polamalu #43 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on against the Arizona Cardinals during Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Even if you’re a sports fan who’s never picked up an Xbox controller in your life, chances are you’ve heard of the Madden cover curse. And for another year, the curse lives on, as Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, this year’s co-cover athlete with Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, suffered a MCL sprain on his left knee during Thursday night’s win over the Tennessee Titans.

Polamalu suffered the injury on a play that resulted in a blocked field goal as his leg bent awkwardly.

Since Madden 1999, when running back Garrison Hearst went down with an injury after being placed on the cover, every single NFL cover athlete has had either an injury that has forced them to miss at least a decent amount of time or has had some other form of bad luck happen to them.

The story is almost growing tiresome as fans are a bit tired of hearing about it, but it does make for an opportunity to place some interesting bets both this year and next year.

Will it happen to Fitzgerald, one of the strongest and most durable receivers in the NFL? Possibly, since the Cardinals also have the pesky “Super Bowl runner-up” curse to deal with this year as well, if you believe in that sort of thing.

Also, who will be the first person to turn down a chance at becoming the Madden cover star, and will it happen next year? Possibilities abound.

Maybe good old John Madden himself needs to come out from hiding after his retirement and hold a press conference declaring the Madden curse to be nothing more than a lie perpetuated by the media before announcing his intentions to be brave and place himself on the cover of Madden 2011 next year.

It wouldn’t prove whether or not the curse is real, unless Madden somehow were to croak after the start of the season, because Madden has been on covers before back in the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo days and nothing bad happened to him.

In fact, appearing on his own covers eventually led to Madden turning the franchise into the ultra-popular American institution that it is today.

But sooner or later, someone is going to have to stand up to the Madden cover curse, whether it’s an owner seeking to protect a player or a player who wants to play it safe and show that it’s not a cowardly thing to be afraid of appearing on a video game cover. Or maybe John Madden should just go ahead and retire the franchise and let the next game be named after Pat Summerall.

After all, kickers never seem to get hurt in the NFL, unless of course their last name is “Gramatica.”

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