Madden Curse: A Self-fulfilling Prophecy?

By: Joe D.
I was convenience shopping today, and my heart skipped a beat.  After being revived by the paramedics, I further investigated the Doritos and EA Sports partnership.  They are “synergizing” and the public gets to vote on who next graces the Madden Cover.
Immediately I had an ambivalent reaction.  The irrational sports side of my brain thought, “God, I hope Tony Romo isn’t voted onto the cover.”  The logical side said, “I can’t believe how stupid I can be.”  This fight between the two sides is as vociferous as the Hatfield V. McCoy battle.  Sunday afternoons are the normal battleground – I have to avoid going to the bathroom so I don’t ruin the karma of the drive, where’s my lucky hat, why am I wearing my unlucky wedding ring (unlucky from day 1)?
I checked the Doritos website, and was relieved that Romo wasn’t even in the running.  Drew Brees, Jared Allen, and Reggie Wayne will vie for the albatross this year.  We (Dallas) play all three candidates this year raising the question, who would I prefer to be cursed?
The rational side of my brain spent the next few hours developing a counterpoint.  Here is what bubbled up:
1. Players who grace the cover generally had a great year the season prior.  Rarely do players have amazing statistical seasons and then improve upon the figure.  Emmitt Smith followed his 25 touchdown season with a 12 touchdown season; Shaun Alexander followed his 27 touchdown season with 7 TD’s; Peyton Manning followed his 49 touchdown season with 28 passing TD’s; Tom Brady followed 50 touchdown season with a goose egg.  It’s not uncommon for a great player to follow one great season with a mediocre season.  When the Madden cover is graced with a star player who had a awful season the year prior, maybe we will start believing the cover aids in their comeback season.
2. Injuries occur in the most violent of the major sports.  Back to back seasons of playing 16 games aren’t uncommon, but it isn’t surprising that a player is dinged or down for a game or two.  Alexander, Mike Vick, and Troy Polamalu all suffered injuries the year following being on the cover.  Not surprisingly, they were playing football when the injuries occurred.  Brett Favre was quarterbacking a Super Bowl contender (Jets) until he suffered a biceps injury.  Other than Vince Young, the cover is given to players who are established stars in the league, which means they have played several years in the NFL (taking an NFL sized beating each year).  While they may still be in their prime, they certainly are compounding aches and pains which blossom into injuries.
3.  The curse works in perpetuity.  Vick and Favre were involved in off the field issues which consequently lead to a move to other teams.  Those exploits have been well covered and will only be touched on.  Vick was involved in dog-fighting well before the cover and well after.  Favre has been considering retirement for nearly a decade (prior to and after gracing the cover).  Attributing blame to the Madden Cover to events which were occurring prior to the cover and perpetually thereafter certainly seems fool-hearty.
As a whole, being on the Madden Cover doesn’t translate into a sub-par season, but rather the nature of the NFL provides the backdrop for heroes to ascend and fall.  The exercise in logic and rationale does not remove the question of whether there is some validity to the curse.  Therefore, I will vote for Drew Brees.  The team will definitely have a worse season than in 2009.  Will it be because of the Madden cover, or more likely it will be because each team will be gunning to the Super Bowl Champion?  The latter is more likely, but the former is more fun.

Topics: Allen, Curse, Drew Brees, Jared, Madden, Mike Vick, Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Shaun Alexander, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Troy Polamalu, Vince Young

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