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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Calvin Johnson and the Madden Curse (8.28.12)

Thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of people will call in sick today.

Why?

Because today is August 28, 2012, and this date marks the release of Madden NFL 13.

Avid gamers all across the world have been waiting for this release date for quite some time. The release of the new Madden gives football fans across the globe a chance to see their favorite teams in action.

Although each Madden essentially serves as a roster update, it's hard to deny the joy of playing that "new" game for the first time. Plus, there's always something different about the game, whether it's the tempo of play, enhanced graphics, or some new features.

Whatever the case, Madden is fun if you enjoy the sports simulation genre.

However, there is a dark side to Madden. Namely, the Madden Curse. The Madden Curse carries a nearly unblemished record. With Calvin Johnson, wide receiver of the Detroit Lions, headlining Madden NFL 13, all of Detroit should prepare for the worst. And if you took Johnson with your first round pick in your fantasy draft, well, you made a mistake.

Simply put, the Madden Curse has been beaten just once, and you definitely don't know who the victor is. Roberto Garza, a right guard for the Chicago Bears, headlined the alternative Spanish version of Madden NFL 09. Garza is the only cover athlete to escape the catastrophe known as the Madden Curse. He hasn't suffered an injury, and his play hasn't seen a serious drop-off.

Some will point to the career best efforts of Eddie George and Garrison Hearst during their time as the cover athlete as being non-affected by the Madden Curse.

As the cover athlete for Madden NFL 2001, George suffered one of the biggest blunders in NFL history when he gift wrapped an interception for Ray Lewis in the Divisional Playoffs in the '00 postseason. The play marred the career best efforts of George that season as the top-seeded Tennessee Titans watched the game slip away in the fourth quarter. The following year, if you discount his final pro season as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, George set career lows in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, average yards per carry, average rushing yards per game, and total touchdowns. Madden Curse.

Hearst also posted career high numbers as the cover athlete for Madden NFL 99. However, on the first play from scrimmage in the Divisional Playoffs that postseason, Hearst suffered a nasty ankle break that kept him out of the NFL for two full seasons. Madden Curse.

As the nineteenth cover athlete of Madden, Calvin Johnson is attempting to make history. Can he become the first marquee cover athlete to defeat the Madden Curse?

If history has any indication of the future, well, that answer is no. Johnson will keep Lions' fans and his fantasy owners on pins and needles all season. Don't expect Johnson to come close to replicating his '11 performance of 96 receptions, 1,681 receiving yards, 17.5 yards per reception, 105.1 receiving yards per game, and 16 touchdowns.

The only career consistent number of Johnson's '11 performance is his yards per reception. So maybe you can expect that one, but the rest will all decline. And if the Madden Curse has its way, the declines will be massive. Even scarier, Johnson now carries a superstitious omen that is calling for his injury.

If you enjoy football, you definitely enjoy watching Johnson play. No one wants to see Johnson suffer the fate of past cover athletes, however, the Madden Curse doesn't care what we think.

Best of luck, Calvin, you're going to need it.


If you are interested in learning more about the Madden Curse, I have written an in-depth book about it. It's titled, The Madden Curse: An Examination of the Biggest Curse in the NFL, and it can be found on the Amazon Kindle Store. Follow this link for a look at it.




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