Don’t You Put that Evil on Me, John Madden!

April 4, 2012


SportsNation’s Madden 13 Cover Vote is down to it’s Elite Eight: Aaron Rodgers, Ray Rice, Cam Newton, Larry Fitzgerald, Victor Cruz, Patrick Willis, Rob Gronkowski, and…Megatron himself, Calvin Johnson.

The Madden 13 Cover Vote Elite Eight. Screen grab from

The contest works just like last year’s; strictly fan votes to decide which player will be featured on the cover of EA Sports’ Madden 13. Peyton Hillis (then of the Cleveland Browns, now of the Kansas City Chiefs) won the contest last year, beating the Philadelphia Eagles’ Michael Vick in the final round. Peyton Hillis also spent a good chunk of last year injured, playing in only ten games, and finished the season with just 587 rushing yards on 161 carries (3.6 yards per carry average). Comparatively, Hillis played in all 16 games in 2010, gaining 1,177 rushing yards on 270 carries (4.4 YPC). In other words, ladies and gentlemen, Peyton Hillis was hit by the MADDEN CURSE!

Every author of The Farm Club, including myself, was born and raised in Michigan, so I don’t think I need to tell you how awesome it was for us to see the Lions make the playoffs last year. I had to pinch myself at times; years of misery had FINALLY come to an end (thank you very much, Matt Millen. They were bounced by the New Orleans Saints in the Wild Card round, but it was still an incredible accomplishment. I also don’t need to tell you how instrumental Calvin Johnson was to that success, but just in case, here’s what his numbers looked like: 1,681 receiving yards (1st in the NFL), 16 touchdowns (2nd in the NFL), 96 receptions (4th in the NFL), and an average of 105.1 receiving yards per game (1st in the NFL). Oh, and in the Lions’ one playoff game (the first since 1999), Johnson had 12 receptions for 211 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Not too bad, eh?

The Madden Curse is pretty well documented. I’ll be honest, I don’t even really believe in it, but the history of poor seasons for the Madden cover boy does freak me out a little bit. Hillis is just the latest example in a long line of victims — from Michael Vick to Shaun Alexander to Troy Polamalu, “exemptions” from the Madden Curse are more rare than success stories. Guys like Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald, and Ray Lewis have all had successful seasons after appearing on the Madden cover.

Barry Sanders was the last Detroit Lion to appear on a Madden cover in 2000…and he retired before the season even started. Retirement obviously isn’t a concern with Johnson, he did just sign a deal with the most guaranteed money included in it in NFL history after all, but the injury bug certainly worries me. I’m trying my best not to buy into the Madden Curse, it really is a silly concept, but history tells me I should at least be wary of it. Johnson is up against the (increasingly annoying) Rob Gronkowski in the Cover Vote Elite Eight and as much as it pains me to root for Gronkowski over Johnson in any type of competition…VOTE GRONK!

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