Each and every year, the Madden NFL series is one of the top selling video games. The highly realistic football simulator has been been a console staple for the better part of two decades and is the closest a gamer can get to actually being on the gridiron, both as a player or a coach. Over the decades though, while gamers took control of their favorite NFL teams virtually, the actual players on the cover of the game were getting injured in reality. This strange phenomenon became known as the Madden Curse and while it hasn’t taken its toll on Madden NFL 2011 cover boy quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints (above), it still has an impressive, and eerie, track record.
Several athletes have acknowledged the curse and now the company behind the Madden NFL series, Electronic Arts, are doing more than acknowledging it. They’re hoping to profit from it. Reports are that the video game company is currently developing a movie based on the Madden Curse. Read more about the movie and the curse after the break.
According to The Wrap, the idea behind a Madden Curse movie will “follow a former Madden video game champion who is forced out of retirement just as he finds himself on the corner of the game’s cover — and subject to the curse.”
The VP of EA Entertainment, Pat O’Brien, is the man behind the project and while he didn’t confirm the project himself, someone else within the company did.
There have been plenty of football and plenty of video game movies made, so combining the two sounds like a smart idea. Each can certainly be made exciting in their own right. Plus, the Madden franchise has already broken out beyond the video game world. It spawned a TV show called Madden Nation that shows the world’s best players traveling and competing against each other.
As for the curse, here’s the rundown. Since The Wrap, who broke this story, did such a great job, I’m just going to quote them.
NFL legend John Madden appeared on the cover of all the Madden games until 1999, when San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst had the unfortunate honor. Hearst played well throughout the regular season but broke his fibula in the NFC divisional playoffs. He missed two full seasons rehabbing his leg and never fully recovered from the injury.
In 2000, the Madden cover featured running backs Barry Sanders and Dorsey Levens. When Sanders retired before the season, EA Sports released new copies of the game with Levens on the cover. He injured his knee and never won his starting job back.
The Madden Curse struck 2001 cover subject Eddie George a year late, though his career was cut short nonetheless, while QB Dante Culpepper suffered a season-ending knee injury after appearing on the 2002 cover.
After rushing for more than 1,300 yards for four straight seasons, 2003 cover Marshall Faulk was bothered by a lingering ankle injury that limited him to under 1,000 rushing yards.
Michael Vick broke his leg one day after Madden 2004 was released with his photo on the cover. He only played in five games all year.
After earning the honor in 2005, perennial Pro Bowler Ray Lewis failed to record a single interception, and a torn hamstring forced him to watch the Ravens fail to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. He also broke his wrist and missed 10 games the following year with a thigh injury.
In 2006, Donovan McNabb said publicly that he didn’t believe in the curse. The Philadelphia Eagles QB suffered a sports hernia in his first game before opting for season-ending surgery after eight games.
In 2007, running back Shaun Alexander broke his foot and missed six games, never regaining his Pro Bowl form.
After Tomlinson turned down the 2008 cover, EA turned to Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young, who was swiftly struck by the curse, which limited him to just five games thanks to a quadriceps injury. The following year, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the season.
Madden 2009 featured golden boy Brett Favre on the cover, but even the Madden Curse couldn’t keep him out of the lineup.
The 2010 cover featured both Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu, the latter of whom sprained his MCL in the season opener before tearing his PCL later in the season. As for Fitzgerald, he suffered a rib injury that caused him to miss a playoff game, as well as the Pro Bowl.
Pretty amazing huh? Also, as referenced above, LaDainian Tomlinson turned down the opportunity to be on the cover in 2008 because it was his contract year and he didn’t want to get hurt.
I’m both a long time Madden gamer as well as Madden Curse believer. I don’t know why, or how, it’s just hard to deny the facts. And while I’m sure there’s a way to use this weird phenomenon and meld it into an interesting and compelling story, the audience for a sports video game movie would be limited, don’t you think? Plus, I really don’t see the family friendly NFL signing off on this. Not having that license, in a football movie or show, can be the kiss of death.
Do you think a Madden Curse movie would work? Should the movie focus on the curse or should it just be a side note in a larger story?