Top 10 Madden Cover Curses

Since the Super Bowl is this Sunday, we thought we’d celebrate by revisiting our Madden NFL themed Top 10 list. Today, we’ll be taking another look at the Top 10 instances that players have fallen victim to the infamous “Madden Cover Curse.” 

10) Barry Sanders
While he wasn’t in the foreground, Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders did appeared on the 2000 cover. Sanders abruptly retired before training camp, ending his NFL career and flooring everyone! This is an odd instance of the curse, since Sanders’ misfortune was entirely his own doing — perhaps it went easy on him because he wasn’t on the cover front and center.

9) Ray Lewis
Lewis, who appeared on the 2005 cover as a Ravens Linebacker, was coming off a solid season and seemed to have another bright one ahead of him. However, his season was prematurely ended when he suffered a wrist injury, and ended up with zero interceptions after he’d previously had at least one a season.

8) Daunte Culpepper
This player appeared on the 2002 cover for the Vikings. After appearing on the Madden cover, he threw 23 interceptions that year and generally offered lackluster performance. In 2005 and 2006, Culpepper blew out both knees.

7) Eddie George
George, a running back for the Tennessee Titans, appeared on the 2001 cover. While earlier and later blows from the curse sidelined players early on with injuries, this instance of the Madden curse was unique in that it struck relatively late and very decisively. In the divisional match against the Baltimore Ravens, George bobbled a pass that could have swung the Titans the game. Ironically, it was Ray Lewis who intercepted this pass, sealing victory for the Ravens.  

6) Peyton Hillis
Peyton Hillis, the running back for the Cleveland Browns, was on the 2012 cover. Hillis was debilitated by strep throat and sat out an early game, and ended up missing other key games due to a hamstring injury. Interestingly, Hillis himself may have even blamed the Madden Curse for his misfortunes, noting “Things didn't work in my favor this year. There's a few things that happened this year that made me believe in curses. Ain't no doubt about it.”

5) Troy Polamalu
Polamalu, safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, appeared on the 2010 cover. He was injured early on in the season and missed four weeks, reappearing only to get sidelined again by a second injury in week 10. The Steelers, who were the defending Super Bowl champions, had a rough season and didn’t even make the playoffs. Interestingly, Polamalu was one of two people to appear on the cover—the other, Cardinals player Larry Fitzgerald, had a generally strong season with only minimal setbacks. Perhaps the curse is only strong enough to bring down one player at a time?

4) Brett Favre
Favre appeared on the 2009 cover as a Green Bay quarterback. There was only one problem with this: he played that season for the New York Jets! For those curious, Favre had appeared on the cover in a Green Bay uniform under the impression that he had retired; his un-retirement and switch over to the Jets was not foreseen by Madden or anyone else. Favre injured both his ankle and his throwing arm as a Jet, and his performance that season was abysmal. What’s worse, he also had to deal with a harassment scandal that marred his public image. The Jets ultimately missed the playoffs.

3) Michael Vick
Michael Vick was a QB for the Atlanta Falcons and appeared on the 2004 cover. Vick broke his leg during a preseason game… that happened to fall during the exact same week that the Madden game he headlined was released. There’s coincidence, and then there’s just uncanny! Of course, that’s not all that Vick suffered; as most of us remember, he was later arrested for his participation in an illegal dog-fighting ring, which destroyed his professional credibility and continues to shadow his career to this day.

2) Garrison Hearst
A running back for the 49ers, he showed up on the 1999 PAL cover. This was the first instance of the curse and one of the most hardcore — Hearst played a very strong season but ultimately broke his ankle in a playoffs game. The injury was so severe that it kept him off the field for not only one, but also two, seasons.

1) Shaun Alexander
Alexander was a running back for the Seattle Seahawks, and appeared on the 2007 cover. The Madden Curse not only cut down this rising star, it mowed him over with a quick and decisive coldness. Just a year before, Shaun Alexander had been the MVP. But one stint on Madden later and he broke his foot, leading to a very down season. In 2008, the Seahawks released him due to lackluster performance, and he only played one more forgettable season with the Redskins. His career turned around so fast it gives you whiplash.

Is the Madden Cover Curse real? Some fans — and, as we saw with Hillis, maybe, even some players — believe that it could be. And while most people simply believe football can be a dangerous sport, we’ll let you decide for yourself after taking a look at our list.  

That’s it for this Top 10! Don’t forget to check out GamerU for Madden video tips and more!