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Will The Madden Curse Strike Again?

Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young has been named the coverboy of Madden '08. This is a high honor, but not necessarily good news for his fans. Last September, our own Mary Carmichael detailed The Madden Curse:

  • Madden 2007 - Shaun Alexander. Broke his foot in September and never really regained his MVP form from the previous season.
  • 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.)
  • 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.

Good luck, Titans fans.

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History
The Secret World War II History Hidden in London's Fences

In South London, the remains of the UK’s World War II history are visible in an unlikely place—one that you might pass by regularly and never take a second look at. In a significant number of housing estates, the fences around the perimeter are actually upcycled medical stretchers from the war, as the design podcast 99% Invisible reports.

During the Blitz of 1940 and 1941, the UK’s Air Raid Precautions department worked to protect civilians from the bombings. The organization built 60,000 steel stretchers to carry injured people during attacks. The metal structures were designed to be easy to disinfect in case of a gas attack, but that design ended up making them perfect for reuse after the war.

Many London housing developments at the time had to remove their fences so that the metal could be used in the war effort, and once the war was over, they were looking to replace them. The London County Council came up with a solution that would benefit everyone: They repurposed the excess stretchers that the city no longer needed into residential railings.

You can tell a stretcher railing from a regular fence because of the curves in the poles at the top and bottom of the fence. They’re hand-holds, designed to make it easier to carry it.

Unfortunately, decades of being exposed to the elements have left some of these historic artifacts in poor shape, and some housing estates have removed them due to high levels of degradation. The Stretcher Railing Society is currently working to preserve these heritage pieces of London infrastructure.

As of right now, though, there are plenty of stretchers you can still find on the streets. If you're in the London area, this handy Google map shows where you can find the historic fencing.

[h/t 99% Invisible]

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holidays
Custom-Design the Ugly Christmas Sweater of Your Dreams (or Nightmares)
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For those of you aspiring to be the worst dressed person at your family's holiday dinner, UglyChristmasSweater.com sells—you guessed it—ugly Christmas sweaters to seasonal revelers possessing a sense of irony. But the Michigan-based online retailer has elevated kitsch to new heights by offering a create-your-own-sweater tool on its website.

Simply visit the site's homepage, and click on the Sweater Customizer link. There, you'll be provided with a basic sweater template, which you can decorate with festive snowflakes, reindeer, and other designs in five different colors. If you're feeling really creative, you can even upload photos, logos, hand-drawn pictures, and/or text. After you approve and purchase a mock-up of the final design, you can purchase the final result (prices start at under $70). But you'd better act quickly: due to high demand, orders will take about two weeks plus shipping time to arrive.

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