Ever since Electronic Arts (EA) developed their Madden football series of games, it has become something of a mixed blessing to be a player that earns the role of the cover star for the year iteration of the game.
On the one hand, it is vindication that you have been noted as having an exceptional season and talent in the NFL. It enhances your profile as a player and makes you more marketable, notable and very appealing to other sponsors.
It is also a prestige thing as some of the biggest names in the NFL have been on Madden covers in the past.
But with it can also come a dark side; the fearsome ‘Madden curse”
What Is The Madden Curse?
Put simply, the Madden Curse is simply the belief that a player appearing on the cover of EA’s Madden football game will suffer some form of injury or bad luck (or both) in the following season.
The curse began with the first cover star, Garrison Hearst of the San Francisco 49ers, who after being on the cover of Madden 99.
Hearst actually had a good regular season, leading the 49ers to the playoffs, but he sustained an ankle injury in the second playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons and it took him two full seasons to recover.
That was the start of a number of ‘unusual’ instances of misfortune, bad luck, inopportune timings that befell the Madden Cover stars over the next few years.
- 2000 – Barry Sanders & Dorsey Levens – Sanders announces his retirement just shortly after being named as the co-cover star of Madden. Levens spent most of the season injured and was released by the Packers in 2001.
- 2002 – Daunte Culpepper – Culpepper suffers an early season knee injury against Pittsburgh and is forced to miss the rest of the season.
- 2004 – Michael Vick – After Vick was announced as the cover star in 2004, he fractured his fibia in a preseason game and missed the first 11 games of the season.
- 2007 – Shaun Alexander – Alexander broke his foot in week 3 of the season after he was named as the cover star and a series of injuries led to his release by the Seahawks in 2008.
- 2009 – Brett Favre – Favre announced his retirement from the NFL and EA put the Packers legend on the Madden cover as reward. Only Favre changed his mind and played for three more years.
- 2012 – Peyton Hillis – One of the surprise EA selections for Madden cover star, his contract dispute with Cleveland was followed by illness and injury throughout the season, which by the end of, he was released by the Browns.
- 2017 – Rob Gronkowski – The Patriots star tight-end suffered an injury hit season following his appearance on the cover and eventually missed the end of the Patriots Super Bowl winning season on the injured reserve list.
However, not all Madden cover stars suffer this fate. A number of players did indeed have very strong seasons after appearing on the cover of the famous video game amongst them Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Larry Fitzgerald, Calvin Johnson, Antonio Brown and Richard Sherman.
Who Will Appear As The Madden 2022 Cover Stars?
It’s a mix of the old and the new for EA fans this year, as Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend Tom Brady will
be the co-cover star for this year’s version of the game along with the Kansas City Chiefs ace Patrick Mahomes.
It will be the second time that both stars have featured on the cover, Brady starred in 2018, Mahomes in 2020, and both enjoyed excellent seasons the last time they were the face of the gaming franchise for the season.
“Whenever you first get on the cover, that’s a special moment,” stated Mahomes upon the announcement.
“So to be on it again, twice, with an all-time great like Tom Brady, it’s a special moment that I’m glad I’m able to do so soon after I had done it the first time.”
It is the first time that two players have featured on the cover since Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald did so back in 2010.
So, will the Madden curse strike again this year?
It may be the only thing that stops these two stellar talents reaching another Super Bowl.