After last week’s Madden NFL cover boy was unveiled, Patriots’ QB Tom Brady could not help himself from joking about the stigma the honor carries with it. The five-time Super Bowl winner seemed all too happy to sarcastically predict a major injury for himself during the upcoming season due to the video game he is featured on. Brady may have no worries for now, but for some players, the Madden curse is all too real.
Following a breakthrough campaign in 2010, Cleveland Browns’ RB Peyton Hillis was featured on Madden ’12. After topping the thousand-yard mark with 11 TDs the season prior, Hillis only managed 587 yards with 3 TDs on the ground after dawning the cover. In a trend that has become all too common for Madden athletes, Hillis missed time due to injury in 2011, appearing in only 11 games.
Minnesota Vikings’ QB Daunte Culpepper led the NFL with 33 TD passes in the year 2000. Months later, he was featured on the cover of Madden. The 2001 season was a disaster for Culpepper, tossing 14 TDs to go along with 13 INTs. Also struggling to stay healthy, Culpepper led the Vikings to a measly 4-7 record in his games started.
Perhaps the most infamous case of the Madden curse occurred in 2004. Michael Vick was the league’s top star, coming off a 9-6-1 record capped by a shocking playoff win in Lambeau Field against the Green Bay Packers. Vick’s path to superstardom hit a speed bump after he was featured on the cover of the video game as he missed all but five games the following season due to injury.
Madden’s newest cover boy, Brady, follows his teammate Rob Gronkowski, who was featured on Madden ’17. Gronk had his worst season in the NFL last year; playing in only half of the New England Patriots’ games. The TE set career-lows in receptions, yards, and TDs following the honor from EA Sports.
Even so, Brady doesn’t seem to fear the alleged stigma after watching his teammate struggle through injury last season. The G.O.A.T. recently posted a video on Facebook, mocking curses in general. He then proceeded to shatter a mirror and walk under a ladder. With so little left to prove in his NFL career, perhaps Brady can get over one last hurdle and survive the Madden curse.