Every year there is this big deal about the so called “Madden Curse” that says whoever the cover athlete is will have a bad season due to poor play, injury and other things. And every year, most scoff at such a thing. But after another season in which a player is struggling after being featured on the cover, when will skeptics and the athletes alike give credit to the theory?
The fact is that of the 16 players to be featured on the cover of the Madden video games, 15 have suffered disappointing seasons and a good number of them have been seriously injured. Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions seems to be the latest victim en route to making it a perfect 16 for 16.
After a season that saw Johnson put up one of the most dominating single season performances ever, 2012 hasn’t been so kind. The Lions are back in their oh so familiar place of dead last in the NFC North and Johnson has compiled just one touchdown catch in eight games. At this time last year, he already had found the end zone 11 times. His yardage is roughly the same, so we can’t just blame it on being double teamed or teams scheming for him better, either.
The news has been floating around lately that Johnson is playing through an injury, but no one knew exactly what it was or how lingering it would be. But this past week, Johnson came clean with the media that he has been playing with a nerve injury that he claims has made it tough to grip the ball. That sounds pretty damn serious. This comes after the news that Johnson has sat out of Lions practice all week with lingering knee pain, too.
We all knew something was going on when he dropped a pretty easy (for him) touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford in their loss to the Minnesota Vikings earlier this season. But that isn’t the only time it has happened. Whatever it is, he certainly doesn’t seem like the same guy out there that was unstoppable last season, even if triple teamed.
It really shouldn’t be surprising at this point. Some have contested that guys like Drew Brees and Brett Favre beat the Madden Curse, but did they really? Favre was having a fantastic season, but late in the year he tore his biceps and threw for two touchdowns and nine interceptions, making the Jets miss the playoffs. Drew Brees did have a good season, but his team was shocked in the first round of the playoffs by a Seahwaks team that didn’t even have a winning record. In my opinion, that counts.
In the end, no matter what the game series tries to do to stop the curse has worked. They tried putting a retired player on there, then he unexpectedly came back. They tried putting a duo of players on there, then Troy Polamalu had a MCL injury and Larry Fitzgerald suffered a rib injury that kept him out of the playoffs.
No matter what, the Madden Curse seems to be real. But believe in it or not, the results are pretty damning when you really start digging into it. Let’s put it this way; I believe in it enough to not want any player from my team to be featured on the cover. I’m sure lots of Detroit Lions fans and fantasy football owners said the same of Calvin Johnson.
Filed under: NFL