Patrick Mahomes became the latest victim of the dreaded “Madden Curse,” which boils down to the misfortunes a player endures following being on the cover of the Madden video game, which usually involves that player missing time on the field.
MVP Mahomes was featured on the cover of Madden 2020 and was hurt on Thursday Night Football against the Denver Broncos last week consequently keeping him out for 3- 6 weeks. Do you know who was on the cover of Madden 2019? Antonio Brown. And we all know how that worked out in the following calendar year.
But the history of the “Madden Curse” is probably a lot crazier than you ever thought.
There are a lot of curses in professional sports. Some franchises are plagued with unfortunate misfortunes embedded into its DNA. In every professional sport there are at least a dozen.
The most famous curse in professional sports was the Curse of the Billy Goat, which originated in 1945 by Billy Goat Tavern owner William Sianis. He brought his pet goat, Murphy, to Game 4 of the 1945 World Series and was asked to leave because Murphy’s stench was bothering fans. On his way out, Siannis said, “Them cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more.”
It lasted for 71 years until 2016 when the Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS and then went on to defeat the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.
Sticking with Major League Baseball, another one of the most notorious curses is the Curse of the Bambino – a self-proclaimed curse when the Boston Red Sox traded baseball legend, Babe Ruth, nicknamed “The Bambino,” to the New York Yankees in 1918. The Red Sox finally broke the curse after 86 years in 2004 when they came back from an 0-3 deficit to the New York Yankees to win four straight games in the ALCS: going on to win the World Series too.
And then there’s the Madden Curse, named after NFL head coach John Madden, who won a Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders. EA Sports made a video game with his name in the title decades after he retired.
But it wasn’t until 1999 that EA Sports decided to put players on the cover rather than Madden. The year they made that decision; San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst was the first to grace the cover. But it wasn’t an honor anymore when he led the 49ers into the playoffs where he broke his ankle and missed two full seasons. He was never the same after that and effectively ruined his career.
Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders and Green Bay Packers running back Dorsey Levens both graced the covers in 2000. Sanders shocked the world by retiring in his prime and Levens failed to make the playoffs with back-to-back impressive previous seasons after injuring his knee. Like Hearst, Levens was never the same.
Daunte Culpepper graced the cover. The following season after a 4-7 record, Culpepper injured his knee and was out for the season.
Marshall Faulk is one of the great running backs of all time. That season, he was slowed by an ankle injury and missed two games. He never rushed for more than 1,000 yards ever again.
Atlanta Falcons explosive quarterback Michael Vick broke his fibula that season and missed 11 games.
Baltimore Ravens Middle Linebacker Ray Lewis broke his wrist.
This is a bizarre one. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb missed seven games due to a feud with teammate wide receiver Terrell Owens.
Shaun Alexander could’ve been one of the greatest running backs of all time but his career was cut short due to a fractured foot.
Quarterback Vince Young had mental health issues that season. He was put on suicide watch and ultimately quit on his team.
Cleveland running back Peyton Hillis dealt with hamstring issues all season.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson has nagging foot injury all season and the team had a 5-10-1 losing record.
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski missed multiple games due to multiple injuries and ultimately watched his team win the Super Bowl without him.
Antonio Brown’s shenanigans.
Patrick Mahomes misses 3-6 games with knee injury.
This is a legitimate curse.