CHICKS DIG SCARS: Curse YOU, Madden 12!
I saw an online article this morning that gave me pause: Bodog installs Rodgers as the favorite to grace the Madden 12 cover. Now we’re betting on the Madden cover?
Now, seeing Aaron Rodgers on the cover of something isn’t a big deal. In the past 12 months, it was an embarrassment of riches seeing him on so many magazine covers from the pre-season through the Super Bowl. Thank God he won. A lot of sportswriters and prognosticators would have looked pretty damned stupid if he’d laid an egg. As it was, only two looked like morons for doubting him. Hello, Colin Cowherd and Skip Bayless. Suck it.
Magazines are one thing. Madden Football by EA Sports, is quite another.
I’m not necessarily a superstitious person. I own a black cat, for God’s sake. He’s 14 years old now. There was a time that I looked at him and wondered if ownership of the 10 pound pain in my ass was the reason that the last Super Bowl (that the Packers had WON) was a month before he was born. I only had him for a couple months when the Packers played Denver in January 1998, and you know what happened then. I still don’t like to talk about it, and the sight of John Elway still makes my upper lip curl like I just smelled something foul coming from the ass-end of my Labrador.
Well, thankfully, the Packers broke my black cat curse this past season. And I didn’t have to sacrifice the little shit for it to happen.
More disclosure: I’m a Cubs fan. We kind of believe in curses to the point of ridiculousness. One hundred and three years with no end in sight.
Madden is a game whose yearly debut is as eagerly anticipated as the latest I-Phone rollout at the AT & T Store, and it’s cover subject is debated and anticipated as much as the latest cover babe on SI’s swimsuit issue (I like making comparisons for effect). Until 1999, John Madden himself was on the cover of the game. But, let’s face it. He ain’t pretty. And he was aging. EA Sports, who refuses to admit that there’s ANY sort of curse, thought that featuring a NFL player was a much better (and much more attractive) way to market their game. Over the years, people started to notice that the guys on the cover would either suffer serious injury, or have CRAPPY seasons, or just freak out and LEAVE (I’m looking at YOU, Barry Sanders) . Thus, the supposed “curse” was born.
POINT: There is NO CURSE. It’s just a COINCIDENCE:
Now, there may be perfectly logical reasons for the “curse.” The player who is honored by being awarded the cover, has just come off a great year. They’re considered “stars.” They’ve won awards and most have just made playoff runs deep into January and February. When they come back the following year with bright shiny hardware, a Madden cover and a halo above their heads as the new “golden boys of the league,” opposing players step up their games when they play against them. Maybe Julius Peppers takes a harder shot (great…can’t effin wait) . Or James Harrison launches himself a little higher and faster at his head. Hey, you just took out the MVP/Madden cover boy! That’s worth a few replays on ESPN, isn’t it? Basically, there’s a big assed target on your back. Everyone is stepping up their game so that they can have a highlight reel against the best player in the league.
Another reason for injury is that players coming off deep runs into January and February have taken a harder toll on their bodies. They’ve had the crap kicked out of them longer. Let’s take the Packers as an example. They won the Super Bowl on February 6, 2011 (Happy Birthday to ME!) . A team such as the Detroit Lions, who did not make the playoff finished their season on January 2, 2011. That’s five weeks more rest for the non-playoff team, five weeks more physical abuse for the Super Bowl team. When the Packer come to training camp (knock on wood), they will have five weeks less down time to rest and heal. If you’re not fully rested and healed, injuries happen. Voila. Down goes the Madden Cover Boy.
COUNTERPOINT: RUN, AARON, RUN:
Anita, you ignorant slut. Of course there’s a CURSE. Let us review:
1999 Garrison Hearst: Hearst was running like a man possessed. Everyone thought he was the next big name in NFL running backs. After appearing on the Madden cover in ’99, he led the San Francisco 49ers to the divisional playoff game, where he broke his ankle. This was no ordinary break, either. It was ugly. Hearst missed two full seasons and was never the same again.
2000 Barry Sanders and Dorsey Levans: Sanders was the cover boy in the original rollout of Madden 2000. He then shocked the NFL and broke the hearts of Lions fans by announcing his sudden retirement just before training camp was scheduled to begin. He subsequently dropped off the the face of the earth. Have you seen him, since? Yeah, me either. EA Sports then put Dorsey Levans on the cover to replace Sanders. Midway through the season, Levens injured his knee. The Packers missed the playoffs. Levans never started a game for the Packers again.
2001 Eddie George: Fresh off a narrow loss to the Rams in the Super Bowl, George went on a tear, having a career year and seemingly ending the Madden Curse. However, in the divisional round against the Baltimore Ravens, he bobbled an easy pass that was intercepted and returned for what would be the game winning touchdown, costing Tennessee a trip to the Super Bowl. The next season, George spent most of the year injured and would never come near his 2000 numbers again.
2002 Duante Culpepper: Yuck. He’s a Viking and that little bicycle motion he used to do with his hands after a score can eat a dick. Sorry, too graphic? Another player coming off a championship game loss the year before (HA-HA!) , the Vikings were installed as the Super Bowl favorites the following year. Instead, they finished at 5-11 and Culpepper suffered a season ending injury. The Madden Curse began being discussed, mostly as a joke.
2003 Marshall Faulk: Two Super Bowls in three years. Faulk was on a roll when they plopped his mug on the cover of Madden ’03. He had had four straight 1300 yard seasons leading up to….the Cover. The Rams were also loaded at most positions. Another team destined to return to the Super Bowl, right? Nope. They finished 7-9, back when 7-9 records meant you DIDN’T make the playoffs (Hello, Seattle!). Faulk suffered a nagging ankle injury that bothered him most of the year and didn’t break the 1000 yard mark.
2004 Michael Vick: The poster boy for The Curse. Do we even have to rehash what happened here? You know the story. He broke his leg, played only five games all year and was then arrested for dog fighting and imprisoned for two years. BOOM. The Madden Curse was no longer a joke. It was serious to those who believe.
2005 Ray Lewis: Perhaps EA Sports thought that putting a defensive player on the cover was a way to break the Curse that they won’t admit to. Ray Lewis was a beast, didn’t miss games and had even dodged a murder conviction. Rock solid choice, right? Dude had already had his bad luck streak, stared it down and made it go crying back to Mommy. Wait, not so fast. After appearing on the cover, Lewis tore his hammy and ended his season on the bench. The Ravens went 9-7 and missed the playoff for the first time in four years.
2006 Donovan McNabb: The Eagles under McNabb had made the playoff for five straight seasons and won an NFC Championship. McNabb was the darling of the league. He was even ballsy enough to speak out and dare the Curse to come get him. “I don’t believe in curses,” he was famously quoted. Oh, Donovan, Donovan, Donovan. You should never speak against the Sports Gods. They will fuck you up. In the FIRST game of the season, McNabb suffered a sports hernia…yeah, he messed up his groin. Ouch. They Gods obviously were not amused by Donovan’s bravado. It is a lingering injury, taking months to heal, sometimes requiring surgery. Donovan tried to play in five games that year. At the end of the year, he had the surgery. Once again, OUCH.
Are you keeping track? The score is Curse: 9, Players: 0. EA Sports began offering generous compensation to those brave enough to risk being on their cover. Plus, the exposure was fantastic. And money….well, it talks, babe. But you know what, sometimes money isn’t worth all that, you know?
Are you listening, #12?
2007 Shaun Alexander: Alexander had led the Seahawks to their best season ever and the conference championship. In week 3, he broke his foot and missed six games. He returned, but was a shadow of his former self. He is currently appearing on milk cartons as a missing running back.
2008 Vince Young: The cover for Madden ’08 was originally offered to LaDanian Tomlinson. Superstitious fans immediately flooded the internet and sports talk shows, begging the star running back not to accept. He turned it down, siting the financial package as the reason (come on now, LT). He then went on to have a record-setting season. You see what happens when you JUST SAY NO? Vince Young was targeted in his place. After appearing on the Madden ’08 cover, Young injured his quadriceps in game five. It was the first time in Young’s career, going all the way back to middle school, that he had missed a game due to injury. Next season, Young injured his knee which put him out for most of the season. He lost his job to Kerry Collins (OUCH).
2009 Brett Favre: EA Sports must have figured that nothing could happen to a player who had just retired, right? Enter Brett Favre. Hey, I remember running out to BUY this one as soon as it came out. A cover honoring a Packer legend who had just retired? What could go wrong, right?
Enter Summer 2008. The Summer of HELL to anyone with a shred of Packer loyalty in them. He divided a team, he divided a fan base. He made a villain out of a 25 year old kid . But, the Madden Gods didn’t just screw with us. They handed Brett a shit sandwich, as well. Aside from having to live in New Jersey, he also tore a bicep and finished the season with two touchdowns and nine interceptions, costing the Jets a shot at the playoffs. Packer fans called it PAYBACK. Everyone else called it The Madden Curse.
2010 Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu: EA Sport deceided to screw up two careers at once and put both players on the Madden ’10 cover. In the season opener Polamalu sprained his MCL, missing four games. He returned for three games before tearing his PCL and sat out most of the season. Fitzgerald did have a great season, seeming to be the first man to break the jinx with over 1,000 yards receiving. He was was one of my FF receivers. SCORE. Luckily, my fantasy league didn’t go through the playoffs where rib injury forced him out of the post-season and the Pro Bowl.
2011 Drew Brees: Did Brees become the first player to break the curse? I guess that depends on who you talk to. He played in all 16 games this past season, and had Pro Bowl numbers (even though debate rages whether Rodgers should have been selected before Brees AND Ryan). BUT, what do you call being the defending Super Bowl champion, SB MVP and Madden cover boy and LOSING TO A 7-9 TEAM IN THE WILD CARD ROUND? I call Curse!
This brings us to Madden 2012, and Aaron Rodgers being the odds on favorite to be the next cover boy.
Do you believe? DO YOU?
As far as I’m concerned, I’d rather see Adrian Peterson, Julius Peppers or Ndamukong Suh on the cover, just as I’m sure that Viking, Bear and Lions fans would rather see Rodgers there. It’s for your own good, Aaron. We’re just looking out for YOU.
I just voted for AP.
Thanks to: DigitalTrends.com for the Madden Curse injury list!