Assistant Sports Editor
A look through this week’s NFL injury report shows hundreds of injuries. Strained hamstrings, torn ACLs, separated shoulders, concussions and turf toes are just as common as field goals and touchdowns nowadays. People overlook the injury report every week, but there is one name on this week’s injury report that cannot, I repeat cannot, go unnoticed. Peyton Hillis. And the Madden Curse strikes again.
Everyone knows the video game Madden. It’s been around since people were playing Sega Genesis and GameBoy Color. Now, it’s the most popular sports video game in the country, and the graphics are as real as the Madden Curse itself. Very real.
For those of you unfamiliar, the Madden Curse is referring to the curse that happens to the Madden cover athlete of the game every single year. Whoever is on the cover finds themselves missing significant time with an injury every single year. Once is unfortunate, twice is an odd coincidence, three times is laying the foundation for a curse, but eleven times isn’t any coincidence.
Eleven times is a full-fledged, no-fluke curse. And if this year is the eleventh time, then next year will find the lucky cover boy as the twelfth victim, and the year after that will have “lucky number 13” tear an ACL, MCL or labrum. Here’s a quick rundown of John Madden’s victims, since the game started featuring people other than Madden himself on the cover in 2001.
2002: Daunte Culpepper threw a league-leading number of interceptions while separately blowing out each knee. He never became the dynamic player he was projected to be.
2003: Marshall Faulk missed 11 games with a knee injury, the same knee injury that led to reconstructive knee surgery the next year, ultimately forcing Faulk to retire. The curse isn’t usually that cruel, though, it usually makes you play a few unproductive seasons before retiring. Was Faulk a lucky one, or the worst victim?
2004: Michael Vick appeared on the cover in a Falcons jersey. That same month, he broke his fibula in the preseason and didn’t play a single game. With his career back on the upswing, I wonder if Vick would do us the honors of proving the curse to be true twice in the coming years.
2005: Tough guy, rock-solid linebacker Ray Lewis appeared on the cover. Curse over right? Nope. Ray missed games with wrist injuries all year, and never recorded an interception for the first season ever in his Hall of Fame career.
2006: Donovan McNabb was given the honor of being on the cover this year. A sports hernia, torn ACL and torn meniscus would give McNabb more time to play Madden during the season that year.
2007: LaDainian Tomlinson said no. Shaun Alexander said yes. Tomlinson ran over defenders all year. Alexander got run over once and missed half the season.
2008: Vince Young didn’t disappoint and hurt his knee and missed much of the season.
2009: Brett Favre was retired. They put him on the cover anyway. He un-retired in typical Favre-fashion and tore his biceps during the season. Even Iron Man Favre couldn’t outduel the Curse.
2010: For the first time ever two athletes appeared on the cover. Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald. Polamalu got hurt and missed much of the season while Fitzy played all 16 games. Did the curse win or did the cover win? Jury is out on this one.
2011: This time all of America voted to anoint Peyton Hillis on the cover. Did we really not like Hillis that much? He’s been hurt all year, probably won’t play this week, and will ultimately miss the rest of the season, because that is what the curse does.
My only concluding thought would be why doesn’t the next guy just say no? It’s not safe to be on that cover. Let it be someone else. Seriously.
Dylan Tully may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org