Thursday, March 29, 2012


John Madden Sr. 
The Madden Curse is nothing new to NFL fans. It's been a fun conversation piece every time of year that the cover of the new Madden game is nearly announced. Fans playfully hope that their favorite player doesn't grace the cover for fear of injury or decreased production for the next season. I always figured this tradition was more out of fun, but this year, with the Lions' Calvin Johnson having a real chance of being the new cover boy, I've realized people are damn serious about this curse. In a poll at Pride Of Detroit, over two-thirds of Lions fans are voting AGAINST Megatron in hopes of avoiding the dreaded curse. In the comment section, people are being called idiots, wimps and, my personal favorite argument that seems to make it into any football debate ever: "not true fans".

Normally, I wouldn't get involved in petty debates, but when someone questions my fandom because I'm SUPPORTING a player on the team, I tend to get a little cranky. The last straw was when local sports anchor Tom Leyden posted this on twitter:
Now, it's easy to ignore the random internet commenters from trolling the internet, but when a respected media voice is provoking a large set of people, it's incredibly frustrating to the general discourse of sports. I'm not trying to call out Leyden -- I've followed him on twitter long enough to know he's not fully serious--but I bet every single one of the 32 people who retweeted him are extremely serious. 

It is probably obvious by now, I don't believe in the curse. It was a fun little harmless thing to believe and participate in for awhile, but now that one of my favorite players is being harmed by its lore, it's time to put an end to the silliness. 

One of the biggest flaws of the Madden Curse is that no one seems to agree what it "does" to the player. Does it cause him to get injured? Does it cause his production to go down? Does it hurt the entire team?

The most popular theory is that it causes injury. However, According to Football Outsiders, in 2010 the average teams' starters missed a total of 47 games. In other words, each starter in the entire NFL missed 2.14 games on average per season. The average amount of games a Madden Cover boy lost in his next season: 3.5, including five of 14 players who didn't miss a single game due to injury. The injury curse is hardly noticeable and extremely negligible given the small sample size.

When the injury theory fails, people will extend the Madden Curse to other ridiculous effects. Eddie George was cursed in 2000 because he caused a turnover in the playoffs. Forget the fact that George had his best year statistically with over 1500 yards and 14 TDs (both marks were never met again in George's career). OHHHH, but he was injured later in his career. Because most running backs last forever and never see their production decline nor do backs ever suffer any injuries. Sorry. No more sarcasm. 

Ray Lewis was "cursed" in 2004. He broke his wrist and missed ONE game. That curse wasn't enough to appease believers, so most point to the fact that he failed to record an interception all season. Of course, that doesn't sound too bad when you consider Lewis is only averaging 2 INTs per season. Also ignored is the fact that Lewis recorded 146 tackles that year, a total Lewis has failed to match since. 

Drew Brees had another Pro Bowl season when he was cursed. Larry Fitzgerald recorded the most TDs in his career the season he graced the cover. But because both teams disappointed in the playoffs, the curse lived on.

Believers will continue to believe, and that's fine. I'm not here to convert you or call you an idiot for believing. It's fun to believe in such curses. It's comforting to think the world isn't random and there's a certain set of rules that govern what will happen next. But please don't question someone's devotion to a team because they see a series of events differently from you. We're all Lions fans, curse-believers or not. 


  1. I agree with you 100% that we are all Lions fans. However, here are some players you didn't mention...

    1999 Garrison Hearst - Broken Ankle
    2000 Barry Sanders - Retired
    2002 Daunte Culppepper - 23 INT's, Single season fumble record
    2003 Marshall Faulk - Never broke 1,000 afterwards
    2004 Michael Vick - Broken Fibula
    2009 Brett Favre - all I have to say is The Jets.
    2010 Troy Polamalu - Sprained MCL missed 14 games
    2012 Peyton Hillis - Turned into a bum.

    I think the evidence is pretty overwhelming.

  2. I would be convinced if any of those things were out of the ordinary. Injuries happen...often (especially to players like Polamalu, Vick, and every RB ever). I'll give you that the Barry Sanders and Favre situations are unique, but what people need to realize is players make the cover of Madden at the peak of their careers. The only direction many of these players can go at that point in their career is down.