Historically, few people are more superstitious than athletes. From eating the same thing before every game to wearing the same old t-shirt under their pads during each game, athletes and fans alike look for any reason to explain victories, losses, hot streaks, and cold runs. This expands into the world of video games, let’s take a look at The Madden Curse.
The Madden Curse is the belief that bad things can happen to the player or the player’s team that is featured on the cover of the All-Madden football game each year.
Madden NFL ’99
This is the first year that All-Madden Football carried a picture of a player on the cover, that player was Garrison Hearst. Hearst had a career year in 1999 and was one of the hotter names in the NFL at the time. After appearing on the cover, he led the 49ers in rushing and to a first round playoff win over the Green Bay Packers. In their next playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, Hearst would go down with a knee injury and wouldn’t play again until the 2001 season.
Madden NFL 2000
Barry Sanders appeared on the cover with John Madden for the 2000 edition of All-Madden Football. Sanders had a long and impressive career and was still putting up some of the best numbers in the league, as well as some of the most exciting plays. A week before training camp opened for the season, Barry Sanders retired leaving the Detroit Lions with no effective running game.
Madden NFL 2001
During the 2001 season following his appearance on the Madden Football cover, Eddie George averaged 3 yards a carry (a career low) and only ran for just over 900 yards rushing while battling a nagging toe injury.
Madden NFL 2002
The year before, Daunte Culpepper had thrown for over 4,000 yards and completed 33 touchdown passes. After appearing on the cover of Madden NFL 2002, Culpepper went on to throw just 13 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions before having his season ended in week 11 because of injury.
Madden NFL 2003
Running back Marshall Faulk appeared on the Madden NFL 2003 cover. Faulk had one of his best years in the league the previous season, but after appearing on the cover he missed five regular season games due to an ankle injury. He never again rushed for more than 1,000 yards in a season. The Rams would go 7-9 on the year, one year removed from a 14-2 season that resulted in a Super Bowl appearance.
Madden NFL 2004
Michael Vick, quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, appeared on the cover Madden NFL 2004. Five days after the cover was released, Michael Vick fractured his right fibula. He was only able to play in the last five regular season games that season.
Madden NFL 2005
Madden NFL 2005 saw the first defensive player appear on the cover, Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens. That season Lewis would have no interceptions after having made six the previous season. He would also be injured during week 15 of that season and be forced to miss the last game of the year. The Ravens would also miss the playoffs that year after having won their division the season before.
Madden NFL 2006
After having led the Eagles to the Super Bowl only to lose to the Patriots, Donovan McNabb appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 2006 the next season. Though the Eagles as a team would make it back to the NFC championship Game, McNabb would battle a sports hernia the entire season only to get knocked out of the game against the Dallas Cowboys and have season ending surgery.
Madden NFL 2007
Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander appeared on the Madden NFL 2007 cover the year after setting the record for most rushing touchdowns scored in a season. After missing only one game in his previous 64 starts, Alexander would miss six starts due to a fractured foot. He would go on to fail rushing for 1,000 yards in season for the first time since 2000.
Madden NFL 2008
During Tennessee Titans’ quarterback Vince Young’s season on the cover of Madden NFL 2008, he would go on to throw for less than 2,500 yards with 17 interceptions. Young would go on to be hurt and miss his first NFL game because of an injury. Up until that point, Young had never missed a game due to injury during his NFL, college, or high school seasons.
Superstitions have been around for a long time in sports, but the Madden Curse is a pretty good one with a long and lengthy history.