In 1988, EA Sports released its first instalment of the now infamous Madden video games. The game was originally called John Madden Football after none other than Hall of Fame coach and color commentator John Madden. Because of Madden's experience and reputation in the NFL, the game’s goal was to be as realistic as possible. Since its release, it has become one of the best-selling video games of all time.
Prior to 1999, every version of the Madden video game had John Madden on the cover. In 1999, the games started to feature an individual player with each new instalment. It was considered to be a great honor to be on the cover of the game. However, for some strange reason, any player who appeared on the game’s cover seemed to suffer a poor performance during the next season. This could be due to injury or just an increase in production.
The way EA sports releases the games is important to note, otherwise this could get confusing. The year of the game is not the year of the season in which it is going to be release. The years on the games are always one year ahead of the season. Therefore, Madden NFL 2003 was released in 2002. All the stats in the game and the decision as to which player goes on the cover are based on the season prior to this. Going along with the previous example, EA Sports would select the featured player for the cover based on his performance during the 2001 season.
The “Madden Curse” as it has come to be known is believed to be very real. Since 1999, over 15 players have appeared on the cover. Only two of them have not had a bad year. Of those two, one of them shared the covered with another player who ended up getting injured. The odds seem to be in the favor of the people who buy into the curse. It became so feared, that people began place bets in Las Vegas on the likelihood of injury to the featured player. Many fantasy football fans went out and protested the possibility of LaDainian Tomlinson appearing on the cover one year. Tomlinson never made an appearance of the game’s cover, but said it was due to contract disputes with the company.
The last installment released was Madden NFL 25, in honor of the games 25th anniversary. EA Sports decided to place retired Lions’ running back Barry Sanders on the cover. This way nobody would get hurt.
10 Drew Brees - Madden NFL 11
9 Vince Young - Madden NFL 08
8 Troy Polamalu - Madden NFL 10
7 Shaun Alexander - Madden NFL 07
6 Daunte Culpepper - Madden NFL 2002
5 Brett Favre - Madden NFL 09
4 Peyton Hillis - Madden NFL 12
3 Donovan McNabb - Madden NFL 06
2 Garrison Hearst - Madden NFL 99
1 Michael Vick - Madden NFL 2004
The Madden Curse still has not forgiven Michael Vick. Vick was considered to be one of the most amazing players the NFL had ever seen. He had lightning fast speed and a very strong arm. He could make plays nobody ever imagined would come out of a quarterback. After leading the Atlanta Falcons to the NFC Championship Game in 2002, Vick was placed on the cover of Madden NFL 2004. During a preseason matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, he suffered a horrible injury to his fibula and would miss the entire season. Only a few years later, the quarterback would spend time in prison in connection to dog fighting. After his release, he joined the Philadelphia Eagles. This past year he would be replaced early in the season by Nick Foles. Vick was released by the Eagles this offseason and has since signed with the New York Jets. Who knows how the curse is going to affect him this year? Hopefully, the worst of it is over.
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