Monday, August 11, 2008

The Madden Curse


So… Let’s talk curse. I mentioned last week that I felt like this whole Favre fiasco was simply the first manifestations of the dreaded Madden Jinx. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, the popular lore goes something like this:

Whoever so graceth the cover of yon John Madden electronic football contest disc in a given year shall be cursed to failure, forsaking any previous success, and shall be heralded as a fantasy disappointment forever more.

Okay, so maybe I took a little creative license, but the fact is that many fans believe that any player who winds up on the Madden cover will experience bad luck and poor output in the season following his appearance. Let’s examine the facts…

The first player to take the plunge was RB Barry Sanders who graced the Madden 2000 cover (that's him in the background; the first cover to include a picture other than that of John Madden). That was the year that Sanders surprised all of Fandom by retiring at the height of his skills and popularity.

Next was RB Eddie George who, after showing up on the Madden 2001 cover, went on to have a career year and is the biggest argument against the Jinx. Incidentally, George also had three more productive years after his Madden glam year (average about 1000 yards a season over that span) until finally succumbing to an injury plagued year in 2004 and retiring.

Now is where it gets really ugly… Madden 2002 star Daunte Culpepper was one of the brightest young stars in football until his brush with the turducken-loving master of the idiom (aka, John Madden). In his Madden year, Culpepper threw 13 interceptions to only 14 TDs (after throwing 33 the year before), and missed the last five games of the season with an injury (and most would say he hasn’t been the same since.

The great Marshall Faulk fell victim to the Madden 2003 cover, as he never again surpassed the 1,000 mark after striking a pose on everyone’s favorite football game (he had managed the feat in 7 of his previous 8 years before his cover appearance).

Madden 2004… The infamous Michael Vick has his brush with greatness, breaking his leg in an exhibition game and promptly missing the next 11 games. Oh, and I think his career is currently not doing so well either.

Ray Lewis had one of the worst years of his career after being posterized by Madden 2005, experiencing his only season without an interception and then missing 10 games the following year.

QB Donovan McNabb (who I was lucky enough to trade from my fantasy team for Carson palmer while the getting was good) showed up on the cover of Madden 2006, managed to get the Eagles just 4 wins that year before losing the rest of the season to injury.

Coming off his MVP year the previous season, Shaun Alexander hit the prime time on Madden 2007 before falling off the face of the Earth with a nagging foot injury and still (to this day) never even coming close to his previous production.

So, what is in store for Brett Favre in 2008 (being that he is on the cover of Madden 2009)? Who is to say for sure, but history tells us that it might be woe and misery. Good luck, Brett… You’re gonna need it!

But how is this for a mind blower… This year EA Sports (the producer of the Madden game series) is offering downloadable content that will allow you to put almost any one of your favorite players on the cover of your personal copy of Madden 2009. I can’t wait to put Tom Brady on the front of mine… or maybe even (dare I hope) Eli Manning.

-RP

Monday night recap...
Tough start to the week for Baltimore starter Dennis Safarte; he allowed six runs on five hits and five walks over four innings of work to the Indians . . . The Pirates scored three runs in the top of the ninth (after scoring three in the top of the seventh) to beat the Mets. New York reliever Aaron Heilman took the loss after surrendering three runs on two hits in just a third of an inning.

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