The Madden Curse strikes again

You've probably heard of the Sports Illustrated Curse, which hangs over the heads of many pro athletes featured on the mag's cover -- but if you aren't completely obsessed with sports-related video games (like, say, my husband) you may not be as familiar with the Madden Curse. Maybe you should be, 'cause I'm gonna just come out now and say it's real. Witness: The following is a list of players who were on the cover packaging of Madden NFL in previous years, and how they performed during the seasons they served as cover boys:

  • Madden 2006 - Donovan McNabb. Asked about the curse before the season began, he said he didn't believe in it. Oops. In his first game he developed a sports hernia and played in pain for the rest of the year until finally cutting his season short and having surgery after game 11. The Eagles went 6-10 (and let's not even get into the T.O. debacle -- especially given the news of his possible suicide attempt last night).
  • 2005 - Ray Lewis. His year wasn't terrible, per se -- but the next year, an injury ended his season by game 6. His curse may have come early anyway; you may remember that in 2000 he was arrested for murder.
  • 2004 - Michael Vick. He broke his leg in the preseason, and by the time he came back (for the last five games of the season) the Falcons' record was so abysmal that they were already out of contention for the playoffs.
  • 2003 - Marshall Faulk. An ankle injury contributed to a poor season, and he never rushed more than 1,000 yards again.
  • 2002 - Dante Culpepper. A knee injury ended his season, and the Vikings went 4-7 while he was playing.
  • 2001 - Eddie George. One of the rare exceptions, he had the best season of his career -- although it's worth noting that in the playoffs, he fumbled the ball, which was promptly picked up by future Madden cover boy Lewis and taken all the way into the end zone.
  • 2000 - Barry Sanders and Dorsey Levens. The first NFL player featured on the box (previous editions pictured, well, John Madden), Sanders abruptly retired a week before training camp started that season. Levens, who was featured on fewer versions of the game, was cut from the Green Bay Packers in 2001 and is no longer playing football.

As for this year, the cover boy is last season's NFL MVP, Shaun Alexander of the Seattle Seahawks. He just broke his foot.

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College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy
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One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

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North America: East or West Coast?
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