The Madden Curse Strikes Hillis

By Chris Johnson
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Cleveland Browns v Indianapolis Colts

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Halloween is here, and so is all that goes with it: jack-o-lanterns, candy corn, and trick-or-treaters.  It gives the girls a good excuse to wear something a little more risqué than their normal weekend attire, and it gives me the opportunity to dress and act obnoxious.  In past years I have gone as the likes of Borat and Kenny Powers, and this year I am going as arrogant South Carolina fan Bruce Wilson.  With all the fun that Halloween brings, there is also a very dark element with it, like curses.  Sports enthusiasts believe in things like curses, jinxes, and superstitions.   Baseball teams like the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox have believed their teams have been cursed for years.  Some players refuse to go on the field without their lucky hat, socks, or shirts.  Some fans believe that if they don’t watch their teams in the exact seat, with the TV at the right angle, while holding a towel, it could change the outcome of the game.  With the NFL season nearly halfway over, it seems that it is safe to say the Madden Curse has struck again.

In case you have been living in Antarctica away from civilization for years and years and don’t know what the Madden Curse is, let me explain it to you.  Madden NFL has been the top selling football game since as long as anyone can remember.  Starting in 1999, the game began putting players on the cover.  What seemed like an honor has turned out to be quite the opposite.  The season following the release of the game, the player gracing the cover has fallen subject to declined statistics or even injury causing them to miss parts of the season.  This year is no different, so I wanted to take a look at some of the names and faces that have fallen victim to the (dun dun dun) Madden Curse.

While in years past the people of EA Sports have simply awarded the player that they thought worthy the cover spot, this year they did it a little differently.  They had a 32 person bracket, much like March Madness, featuring a player from each team to decide who won the cover.  Fans could go online and vote for who they wanted to.  Week by week the players were dwindled down by round, until at the end Peyton Hillis was awarded the Madden NFL 12 cover.

Last year Hillis was one of the breakout stars of the NFL.  He rushed for 1100 yards and had 11 touchdowns.  He was also in the top five in scoring as far as fantasy points goes.  This year has been a far cry from that thousand-yard rushing season.  So far he has only 211 yards and 2 touchdowns.  Peyton had been in contract negotiations with Cleveland following the lock out, but was advised to walk away by his agent.  More controversy surrounded the running back when he sat out a week claiming to have strep throat.  He was linked to many trade rumors before the deadline, and he is currently benched by a hamstring injury.  Is this just a coincidence, or perhaps the (insert creepy Unsolved Mysteries guy voice) Madden Curse?

Hillis hasn’t been the only one to fall victim to the ill-fated curse.  Last year, Drew Brees seemed to have all but beaten it until his playoffs were stopped short in Seattle.  Madden Curse.  In 2009, two players shared the cover: Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald.  Fitzgerald made it through the season unscathed.  Polamalu, however, missed eleven games that year due to two separate injuries. Half Madden Curse.  The year before that Brett Farve appeared on the cover with the game paying tribute to the thought-to-be-retired gun slinger.  Farve, after a war of words with the Packers, was traded to the Jets, where he started off the season at 8-3, only to finish 9-7 and miss the playoffs. Out-of-retirement Madden Curse.  In 2008 it was Vince Young’s turn, and he was injured in the first game of the season.  While sidelined, Kerry Collins filled in and was later announced as the starter for the rest of the season, while Young was left with clipboard duty.  Benched-for-Kerry-Collins Madden Curse.  The list goes on and on:  Shaun Alexander with the MVP-to-never-heard-from-again Madden Curse, Donovan McNabb with the Campbell’s Chunky Soup Madden Curse, Michael Vick with the broken-leg-in-the-preseason-later-to-go-to-prison-for-dog-fighting Madden Curse, and Barry Sanders with the early-retirement-in-the-middle-of-your-prime Madden Curse.

This curse is no joke and should not be taken lightly.  In fact, I never want to see Cam Newton (or any Panther, for that matter) appear on the Madden cover.  For all future recipients of the daunted video game jinx, be afraid.  Be very afraid.

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