With Madden 2012 due out on Tuesday, it’s a tradition now to review the tragedies that have succumbed to the Madden Curse. Peyton Hillis, running back for the Browns, is on the cover this year as fans voted this. It seems most fans steered clear of their favorite players due to this curse, as it went to a player on the Browns. Hillis had a breakout season, but definitely fits the mold for a one year player, as Browns have had this in the recent past. I will go over the list and explain how the curse affected each player.
Madden 2000 – Barry Sanders
This was the first year a player was included on the cover. John Madden was on the cover, but in the background was a running back by the name of Barry Sanders. In 1999, when this game was released, Barry Sanders retired before training camp. The cover was already made for the game, so it couldn’t be corrected. This was a bad sign from the start. The Lions went on to finish the season 8-8, which was an improvement over their 5-11 record from the previous season, but you have to think have they had Barry if that Lions team would’ve been a playoff team.
Madden 2001 – Eddie George
This was the first Madden of a new generation. Eddie George was on the cover of this Madden. The Titans the previous year were one yard short of a Super Bowl. George was arguably the best RB in the league at this point. This year was also arguably the player that was least affected by the curse, but that was as of this year. George actually had his career year this year with 14 TDs and leading the league in rushing. It was his final four years after this year where his production fell off. His last Pro Bowl was in 2000 as he fell off drastically the next season running for less than 1000 yards and half the TDs.
Madden 2002 – Daunte Culpepper
Daunte Culpepper, a young gun slinger out of Central Florida, surprised people in his first season as the starting QB with the Minnesota Vikings. He lead the Vikings to an 11-5 record and lead the league with 33 TDs. In 2001, Culpepper would get hurt and only lead the Vikings to a 4-7 record when starting and had less than half the TDs he threw the previous season with only 14.
Madden 2003 – Marshall Faulk
Madden 2003 featured Marshall Faulk on the cover, which seemed to be a prime choice at the time. Coming off of a season where he had 83 reception, as a RUNNING BACK, and 33 total TDs, he was at the peak of his career and the face of the Greatest Show on Turf. This year saw injuries take affect as he only started 10 games. He ran for less than a 1000 yards for the season, however still caught 80 passes. His numbers would diminish the final 3 years of his career even more.
Madden 2004 – Michael Vick
Ah, the cheapest Madden of all time because of this cover boy. Michael Vick was on the cover of Madden 04. At the peak of his popularity by this time, Atlanta had become a contender. Ron Mexico broke his leg in the preseason and played only 4 games. There was alot of hype going into this season after a playoff appearance the year before. Vick’s most productive year with the Falcons came the year before this game was released. After jail, Vick’s an Eagle, and it came down to him and Peyton Hillis for this year’s cover.
Madden 2005 – Ray Lewis
There had never been a defender on the cover of Madden. Ray Lewis would be the first to hold this title. Seemingly, again, a perfect pick for this at the time, the curse would strike him too. This game introduced the hit stick and is arguably the best Madden of all time. Too bad NFL 2k5 outshined it. Lewis would go on to play only 6 games due to injury and record a career low 39 tackles. Lewis played only 5 games in 2002 and still recorded 3 more tackles.
Madden 2006 – Donovan McNabb
Coming off a near Super Bowl upset against the Patriots, fans witnessed this QB give up on the final drive because he lacked the energy. Despite that, he came off of a great season throwing 31 TDs and only 8 INTs. For this season, however, McNabb only played 9 games leading them to a 4-5 record. For the record, McNabb struggled staying on the field the following season as well.
Madden 2007 – Shaun Alexander
Staying with the trend of putting Super Bowl losers on front cover, Shaun Alexander made this cover for 2007. The first real attempt at a football game on next gen systems, this game wasn’t that great. Coming off of a Hall of Fame season where Alexander ran for 1880 yards and scored 27 TD. In 2006, he played in only 10 games and saw, literally, a 1000 yard drop off in production and never rebounded.
Madden 2008 – Vince Young
Vince Young was the next big up and coming player. It was a bit of a surprise to people that he was named the cover athlete for this season. He hadn’t really accomplished much, and to this day, he’s a backup and a nutcase. Young was a promising, new exciting player in 2006. In 2007 he nearly led Tennessee to the playoffs, however he threw 9 TDs and 17 INTs. The following season, he played one game, played horrible, got booed, and nearly killed himself as he was benched for Kerry Collins and Tennessee went on to finish 13-3.
Madden 2009 – Brett Favre
The curse was mainstream by this point. Some believe Young was added to the cover before because the curse would be less of an impact. They put Favre on the cover because he announced his retirement (we all know how that ended up). Favre goes to the Jets and they start out hot. Favre alienates himself from other players, causes Eric Mangini his job, and shows his junk to a girl who in all honestly probably deserved it, or wanted it and played it off. Either way, Favre lead the league in pics and was released after the season, only to fake retirement and end up a Viking and ruin that franchise to this day. Good Job Brett. All because of Madden.
Madden 2010 – Larry Fitzgerald/Troy Polamalu
This was actually the first good Madden on the new generation system. Two sway the skeptics on the curse, EA put two people on the cover, the first time they had done that. This might be the least impacting season as they semi saved face. Fitz had a near career season scoring 13 TD and catching 97 balls for 1092 yards. He also played in the craziest playoff game ever against Green Bay. Polamalu? Not so much. He got hurt and played only 5 games, making the curse stay true. The Steelers would also miss the playoffs this season
Madden 2011 – Drew Brees
EA was determined to beat this curse. This is the first year they let the fan vote the athlete, although EA had to hand pick players from each team. Drew Brees was voted the cover athlete after winning the Super Bowl the year before. Many don’t realize the curse relation to Drew. Coming off of a great season in 2009, Drew had a near identical season. The only difference is they didn’t win the division, Atlanta did. The Seattle Seahawks became the first team to win a division with a 7-9 record. The Saints went to Seattle and lost to this 7-9 team. The defending SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS, suffered what might be the one of the most embarrasing losses in NFL history.
What Peyton Hillis holds in the future, who knows? I just expect a slump or an injury, or the Browns win the Super Bowl and he gets benched. Here’s to the 2012 Oakland Raiders making the cover of Madden 0’13.