The Madden Curse, 2001-Present: A Pictoral History and Analysis
If you're friends with Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis, you may want to pass along your condolences -- not because he lives in Cleveland, or because he's only the second-most famous player in the NFL named Peyton, but because he was chosen (by popular vote, I might add) to represent the league on the cover of this year's version of the Madden video game, Madden 2012.
Peyton Hillis's career moment.
Earlier this year, fans had a chance to vote via a March Madness-style bracket for who would grace the cover of the world's most popular sports video game and, in one of the most peculiar viral efforts in the history of the Internet, Hillis secured the sacred spot by defeating Michael Vick in the finals.
(Vick's consolation prize? The $100 million, six-year contract he agreed to yesterday with the Eagles.)
In actuality, Vick probably wasn't all that heartbroken over losing the cover boy status to Hillis. You see, Vick's had a look at the Madden cover before, and he knows as well as anyone the doom that awaits Hillis around the corner.
It's well known by now, adorning the front of the carton for the Madden video game is a humongous curse. It's virtually bulletproof, basically the equivalent of gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated...arm in arm with Ted McGinley...while both wearing Cubs jerseys....and rubbing the Brady Bunch tiki statue on each other's faces.
Let's take a walk down memory lane, shall we?
NOTE: Keep in mind, because of the release dates and the way they name the game, the year depicted in each respective edition of Madden is typically two years removed from the actual NFL season where the player performed to the level that got him cover boy accolades to begin with, e.g., Eddie George's 1999 season got him on the cover of Madden 2001. Make sense?
MADDEN 2001, Eddie George
1999 season: George led the Titans to the Super Bowl, rushing for over 1,300 yards and over four yards per carry for the only other time beside his rookie season.
Post Madden: After a solid 2000 season, Eddie George dipped below 1,000 yards in 2001 and never averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry for the rest of his career.
MADDEN 2002, Daunte Culpepper
2000 season: Culpepper led the Vikings to a playoff berth in his first full season as a starter, throwing for almost 4,000 yards and 33 touchdowns.
Post Madden: The Vikings slumped to 5-11 in 2002 as Culpepper threw 23 interceptions. He appeared to recapture some magic in 2004, but eventually blew out both knees and was last seen trolling around for a tryout in the NFL.
MADDEN 2003, Marshall Faulk
2001 season: Faulk gained over 2,000 all-purpose yards as he and Kurt Warner led the Rams to their second Super Bowl in three seasons.
Post Madden: Faulk never rushed for 1,000 yards again and his career settled into a steady decline over the next four years.