If you played Madden NFL 2006, then you probably noticed that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Donovan McNabb was on the cover. After lending his image to the cover in 2005, McNabb tried to unsuccessfully live up to his reputation as being one of the toughest football players in the league. Trying to overcome a sports hernia became his downfall and after a rough tackle in a game against the Dallas Cowboys, he was indefinitely relieved for the season.
To make matters worse, in 2006, McNabb suffered a torn ligament, which put an end to that season as well. Now we all sit and wait to see how McNabb will return to reclaim his former role, as many hail Jeff Garcia as the new leader of the Eagles.
The 2007 Madden NFL game placed Seattle Seahawks running back, Shaun Alexander on the cover. It didn’t take long for the curse to catch up with Alexander. In 2006, Alexander fractured a bone in his left foot and tried to play through the pain. The injury only worsened and throughout the 2006 season, he was unable to play. His performance suffered so greatly that the 1,880 rushing yards he accomplished in 2005 were greatly overshadowed by the 896 he saw in 2006. We’ll see what happens with Alexander as he returns to football with a highly coveted $62 million dollar contract.
While the curse is said to bring about a host of injuries to former Madden cover stars, it is also blamed for creating a series of performance reductions in a handful of players. Let’s take a look at the star of the 2001 Madden NFL cover, Eddie George. As running back for the Tennessee Titans, he was known for being the 1996 Rookie of the Year and a deep asset for the Titans team. His numbers suffered after his appearance on the cover, but in 2004, he signed with the Dallas Cowboys where it is believed he played his last career game.
On the 2002 cover of Madden NFL, Daunte Culpepper, the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings represented the team. Before lending his image to the popular gaming title, he led the team to an 11-5 record, as well as made an appearance in the NFC Championship. He even found his way to the Pro Bowl. After the Madden cover, his numbers started to suffer. In 2001, he faced 13 interceptions and watched the remainder of the season from the sideline. In 2002, the interceptions increased to 23.
Culpepper was able to reclaim some of his luster when 2003 and 2004 brought highs to his sports career. When a bulk of personal disagreements arose with the team, he found himself traded to Miami, where he was plagued by knee and shoulder injuries that made his 2006-year a rather bumpy road.
And what about Ray Lewis? This linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens was featured on the cover of Madden NFL 2005 and became the first defensive player to accomplish such a feat. Some believe that his position had something to do with saving him from the harshness associated with the Madden curse. Anyhow, some connect his breaking of the wrist during the last regular season game as a sign that the curse hadn’t passed him by.
Out of all the players affected by the Madden curse, it was he who seemed to bounce back the best. Although he left the 2005 season early with an injury, he still displayed pleasing numbers and started off the 2006 season with enough to put a smile on management’s face. He even boosted his career with a personal high of five sacks.