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.