Well, it appears that the famed Madden Curse has claimed another victim. During the NFL season opener between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Tennessee Titans, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu suffered a somewhat serious knee sprain, an injury that could sideline him for three to six weeks. This wouldn't be terribly interesting news had Polamalu not appeared on the cover of EA's latest Madden game, Madden NFL 10, a dubious honor of sorts with a compelling and disturbing history.
To help understand the scope of the famed Madden Curse, Yahoo’s sports blog has compiled the following list of players who have graced the past 10 Madden covers, accompanied by their fates:
- 2001: Eddie George. No injury.
- 2002: Daunte Culpepper - Missed five games, played poorly.
- 2003: Marshall Faulk - Missed six games. Never ran for 1,000 yards again.
- 2004: Michael Vick - Broke his leg, missed 11 games.
- 2005: Ray Lewis - Missed only one game.
- 2006: Donovan McNabb - Missed last seven games of the season.
- 2007: Shaun Alexander - Broke his foot, missed six games.
- 2008: Vince Young - Missed one game. But things didn't go well.
- 2009: Brett Favre - Missed no games. But did become insufferable. [Ha!]
- 2010: Troy Polamalu. Out 3-6 weeks with a knee injury.
- 2010: Larry Fitzgerald: TBD.
As Time documented back in April, the first Madden to feature an actual player was Madden NFL 99 (PAL version), and the player was San Francisco 49er’s running back Garrison Hearst. Hearst broke his ankle in the playoffs, and went on to miss two seasons. However, he made an impressive comeback in 2001, rushing for 1,206 yards, but his career fizzled after that. Legendary running back Barry Sanders appeared in silhouette on the cover of Madden NFL 2000, but didn’t suffer any injuries that season, mainly because he retired prior to training camp.
Whether you buy the curse or not, it’s certainly a fascinating series of events. I’ll tell you what, though. You better believe I’ll be watching the San Francisco/Arizona game on Sunday. Seriously, if Cardinals wide-receiver Larry Fitzgerald (who also appears on the Madden NFL 10 cover) gets injured, game over man.