The Madden Curse List: Great NFL Players Who Suffered
I love superstition in sports. Wearing your lucky jersey on gameday; refusing to change your underwear weeks before a championship; sacrificing a lamb to the prince of darkness so that this is your year to win it all.
Hey, if I was a Browns fan I’d do it too.
But there’s one superstition that all fans agree with sucks all the eggs, and that’s the Madden curse. As soon as your favorite player is thrown on the cover a spell is cast over them that results in the following:
- Shattered ACL midway through the season
- A close loss in the championship game to your division rival
This year’s game features scrambling savant Lamar Jackson. Ravens fans beware.
Time to discuss 4 NFL players who couldn’t avoid the Madden curse.
#1: Tom Brady
Brady was on the cover of Madden 18 and he even taunted the curse with a video uploaded by the NFL. In it, he breaks a mirror, walks under a ladder, and seems to be very confident that he’ll be fine for the 2018 season.
Now, the Pats did make the Super Bowl that year which would mean the Madden curse was broken. But this is what the Pats were talking about, and anything less than a championship is an unsuccessful season.
That year they lost to Big Dick Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles. So while making the Super Bowl is a feat in itself, Tom probably should’ve laid off breaking the mirror.
#2: Shaun Alexander
Sometimes when the Madden curse hits, it hits hard.
Seahawk’s running back Shaun Alexander seemed to be hitting a stride in his relatively short and successful career. He was a three-time Pro Bowler and just came off a season where he took his team to the Super Bowl.
Although they lost to the Steelers, Alexander looked to have a long promising career. Then his 07′ Madden appearance happened…
After Madden he never rushed for 1000 yards again, was released from the Seahawks a few years later, and hung up his cleats at the age of 31.
#3: Ray Lewis
Ray Lewis was the first defensive player selected to be on the Madden cover in the new millennium. He had a career year in 2003. After being selected for the cover, his production dipped, but not nearly as much as others on this list.
He only had 16 fewer tackles, and missed a game due to injury, and failed to intercept a pass. Besides that, though, he had a good year and was named first-team All-Pro, and has been a top NFL player in the years since he appeared on the cover.
#4: Donovan McNabb
Besides losing in the Super Bowl to the Pats, everything was going right for McNabb. The QB became a hero for the “City of Brotherly Love” and has long been considered the best QB in Eagles history. Then, he was featured on the cover of Madden 06.
The following season McNabb fell off a cliff.
He had an infamous fall out between him and star wide-out Terrell Owens; suffered a season-ending groin injury in week 9 and prior to that had a 4-5 record.
The Madden curse became the beginning of the end for McNabb.
#5: Rob Gronkowski
Gronkowski was on the cover of Madden NFL 17 last year, which is a big deal and an accomplishment for any player. It means you are one of the more visible and recognizable players in the league and one of the best.
The Madden curse bit Gronk right out of the gate. He missed the season’s first two games due to a hamstring injury and simply wasn’t himself in the next two weeks, either. Once he finally got healthy and was playing at a high, the injury bug bit again. He suffered a back injury later in the season that required surgery and landed him on injured reserve.
#6: Michael Vick
Michael Vick was the man. Everyone bought Madden 2004 just to play him. And if you did choose the 04′ Falcons, you were likely going to make your opponent rage quit with the amount of QB sneaks you attempted.
Michael Vick broke Madden. But the Madden curse broke him.
In a preseason game, Vick broke his leg limiting him to five games in 03. Then came the dog fight scandal which left him suspended and in jail for two years. Sometimes you’re so big, larger than life in every way, that when you crash, you crash hard.
Thankfully he’s bounced back now and seems to be an overall better person, but boy did that curse hit hard.
Has the Madden Curse Been Broken?
More than 25 years into the iconic franchise’s history, there’s almost no escaping the Madden Curse. Since Garrison Hearst broke his ankle in 1998 shortly after starring on the cover of Madden NFL 99, most of the players who starred on the game’s cover have suffered an injury the following season.
Madden Curse List
Here’s a timeline of some other NFL players who were on the cover of Madden and show you that the curse is still alive.
1999: Garrison Hearst
2000: Barry Sanders and Dorsey Levens
2001: Eddie George
2002: Daunte Culpepper
2003: Marshall Faulk
2008: Vince Young
2009: Brett Favre
2010: Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald
2011: Drew Brees
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