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Consider this your final warning. The Madden Curse is one of the more heavily talked about occurrences in all of sports. It ranks above the dreaded Sports Illustrated Curse and my new personal favorite, the Gillette Fusion Curse.
Starting in 1999, the Madden franchise began putting cover athletes on the front of the game. A decade later, we have been seeing once heralded players go down in flames. Most will just call it a coincidence. Other theorists will strictly point at Madden as being the sole reason for the downfall of these All-Pro players. If you will indulge me, here is a recap of the curse.
Just so you know, when a Madden game is released, the year in the title is not the year of the upcoming season but actually one year later than it actually is. For example, “Madden 2004” was released in 2003. This is just a reminder for you when you are trying to follow along with the years in question. Everybody good? Super!
Not every copy of Madden ’99 had a cover athlete. Instead, there were two covers with one featuring All-Pro RB Garrison Hearst. In 1998, Hearst ran for 1,570 yds and had 535 receiving yds with 9 total TD. I know those numbers clearly don’t indicate a curse but, the 1999 divisional playoff game against the Falcons sure does. In that game, Hearst suffered a severely broken ankle and later encountered complications from surgery that kept out of football until the 2001 season.
In 1999, Levens barely reached the 1,000 yd mark with 1,034 yds and due to injuries was used in a reserve role for the rest of his career in Green Bay, New York, and Philadelphia.
After the game’s release in 2000, George went on to have a good season with 1,509 yds and 14 TD. Then the curse caught him in the 2001 season where he failed to reach 1,000 yds rushing for the first time in his career (939 yds). In his next two season, George would barely eclipse 1,000 yds rushing (1,165 in 2002 and 1,031 in 2003) and would miss eight games in 2004 after which he retired.
After it’s release in August of 2001, Culpepper played only 11 games and had just 2,612 passing yds with 14 TD and 13 INT. 2002 was embarrassing with 18 TD, 23 INT and an astonishing 23 fumbles. Although he had his best season in 2004 (4,717 yds, 39 TD), he would then suffer heavy knee damage in the 2005 season and since has not had a regular starting job in the NFL. Of course, most of us at SoB like Culpepper because he knows how to party.
After four straight season with 2,000+ total yds, Faulk only ran for 953 yds in 2002 and his rushing yds every year would decrease (818, 774, 292) until his retirement after the 2005 season.
In 2003, Vick broke his leg in a preseason game and only played in four games. Currently, Vick is in jail after pleading guilty for his involvement in the now well known dogfighting investigation and is suspended without pay indefinitely by the NFL.
Ray Lewis was the first defensemen to be featured on the cover of Madden. After the release in 2004, Lewis actually had a good season with 147 total tackles, a sack, and two fumble recoveries. The wheels started coming off after as his numbers since have steadily declined including missing 10 games in 2005 due to injury.
McNabb had just come off of a Super Bowl loss to New England and was put on the cover of Madden. The 2005 season saw McNabb miss seven games with several injuries and he missed the Pro Bowl for the first time since his rookie season in 1999. McNabb has battled numerous injuries since that time and has yet to play a full season since 2004.
Alexander had five straight 1,000 yd season which included his 1,880 yd season in 2005 that saw him score a then record 28 total TD. After he appeared on the cover of Madden, Alexander suffered a broken toe in 2006 and ran for 896 yds. In 2007, he then broke his wrist, started only 10 games and rushed for only 716 yds. As of right now, he is still a free agent with no team to call home.
In 2006, Young started 13 games and lead the Titans to the playoffs. He was named Offensive Rookie of the Year and made the Pro Bowl. Then after the game’s release in the summer of 2007, Young had an abysmal season where he would leave games and miss a start due to injury and threw for just 9 TD and 17 INT.
Well the preseason media circus is not a good sign. After being put on the cover of Madden ’09, Favre decided he didn’t want to stay retired and wanted to return to Green Bay. In fact, this was the first time an inactive player was put on the Madden cover. Well, after the whole messy ordeal, Favre was traded to the New York Jets. Now we have a Brett Favre on the cover of a major videogame wearing the wrong jersey.
So what does this mean for the 2008 season? Favre is playing with a new offense and is in a new division that is light years ahead of the NFC North. He is also one year older and doesn’t have a good enough running game behind him that allows him to stretch the field and establish a good passing game. Favre’s consecutive games started streak currently stands at 253 and if he misses one start, just one start, then I say that the curse has claimed it’s next victim.
Other factors such as a bad passing year can also be used to give credibility to the Madden curse. Favre has already had mediocre seasons offensively. Prior to his great 2007 season (4,155 yds, 28 TD, 15 INT) he had two bad years by Brett Favre standards.
2005- 3,881 yds, 20 TD, 29 INT
2006- 3,885 yds, 18 TD, 18 INT
So frankly, it will take a year much worse than these two to continue to tradition of the Madden Curse.
However, my point to all this is simply that I am encouraging you to do the following: DO NOT DRAFT BRETT FAVRE. Come on, have you been reading this thing or not? The man is simply doomed. Forget the factors of new team, new offense, and new division. I am advising you to not draft him solely on the basis of the Madden Curse. Do not waste a pick on him. I don’t care if you value him so high that you take him as one of the first QB’s off the board or if you wait til the last possible round. Don’t touch him! The curse has ruined lives for 10 years and it will claim Brett Favre. I guarantee it.
Pete’s Prediction: Misses a start for first time in career due to injury, the curse lives on.
Tags: Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, Dorsey Levens, Eddie George, Fantasy, Garrison Hearst, Gillette Fusion Curse, Madden Curse, Marshall Faulk, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis, Shaun Alexander, Sports Illustrated Curse, TGIF, Vince Young