By TPR Staff

By now, almost anyone who is an NFL fan is a fan of the John Madden Football game series that is released annually. And a bigger number of NFL fans out there know about the “Madden Curse” whether they’ve even played one snap of the multi-million unit selling franchise or not.

First released in 1988 and known simply as John Madden Football, the series featured Madden himself on the cover until 1999. But in that year, in a change for the series, the cover (of the PAL version) featured Garrison Hearst who abruptly broke his ankle severely and missed extended playing time. When he was finally able to return to the game, he was never quite the same. In hindsight, many see this as the beginning of the curse.

In 2000, the legendary Barry Sanders graced the cover and then up and retired unexpectedly before training camp, falling just short of Walter Payton’s record for all-time leading yards in rushing.

The cover athlete for 2002 was Dante Culpepper of the Vikings who went on to throw 23 interceptions as he also broke the record for most fumbles in a single season. In 2004, Michael Vick broke his leg in a preseason game and missed most of the season on a Falcons team that was an early odds favorite to contend for the NFC crown.

2006 featured the Eagles’ Donovan McNabb who suffered a sports hernia in week 1 and then tore his ACL and meniscus later in the season. How about in 2008 when Vince Young was on the cover and his downfall began in Tennessee?

You get the point. As you can see, there certainly seems to be either some crazy coincidences going on or some divine intervention is at play. Some have bucked the trend such as Brett Favre, Drew Brees and Ray Lewis, but that is debatable. However, there are more Peyton Hillis’ in this group than not.

Starting last year, Electronic Arts began to put the cover athlete up to a vote by fans and the results have been intriguing. Fans obviously believe in the curse enough, because there are petitions and internet grass roots efforts by groups to vote against their teams player found everywhere. For example, back in 2008, Chargers fans created SaveLTfromMadden.com in hopes that the announcement of LaDainian Tomlinson being the cover athlete would help. LT eventually declined EA’s offer later, be it from fan pressure or whatever.

However, this year you have a different athlete talking about wanting to be on the cover of Madden. Houston’s Arian Foster, who is quite a quirky guy already (you MUST follow him on twitter if you have yet to do so), has encouraged fans to vote for him. He even put out a hilarious campaign for the “honor” on YouTube that I challenge you to watch and not laugh.

If anyone can buck the trend of the Madden Curse, it’s Arian Foster. But the move has fantasy owners already shaking in their boots. Especially after he knocked off the immensely popular Tim Tebow in the first round yesterday. After that, I not only think he will win the cover, but predict that it’s inevitable. And as a Texas fan, that scares the hell out of me.

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