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Will The Madden Curse Strike Again?

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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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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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