Can robots fall victim to curses?
Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson is as close to inhuman as you’ll find in professional sports. Nicknamed Megatron, after the Transformers character, Johnson plays the game with a combination of size, speed and agility that seems unnatural. He signed a mega-contract, worth a reported $132 million over 7 years, earlier this offseason after averaging over 100 yards and a touchdown per game last season. He’s one of the game’s premier players, so what could possibly bring him down?
Perhaps a curse?
It was announced yesterday that Johnson won the fan voting contest and will grace the cover of EA Sports’ Madden 13, which means he will almost certainly fall victim to the “Madden curse.” Every player who gets the cover ends up suffering some kind of calamity–usually an injury–the following season. Johnson has battled back pain at times during his career, even missing some games, so that seems like the most likely way the curse will rear its ugly head. Then again, curses work in mysterious ways. For all we know, Johnson will get hurt in a freak paragliding accident later this week.
Don’t believe the Madden curse is real? The list of casualties is crazy and it’s enough to convince even the most skeptical among us. Check it out:
2012: Peyton Hillis – Was hurt for most of the year and his coaches reportedly questioned his toughness. The Browns allowed him to leave via free agency after the season.
2011: Drew Brees – Brees came as close as any player has to overcoming the curse. He has a good season, but his team was upset in the opening round of the playoffs.
2010: Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald – The people at EA tried to end all talk of the curse by putting two players on the cover in 2012. Though Fitzgerald emerged unscathed, Polamalu played in ony five games due to nagging injuries and the Steelers missed the playoffs the year after winning the Super Bowl.
2009: Brett Favre – The Packers tried to nudge Favre to retire and traded him to the Jets when he refused. Favre’s play was inadequate as he battled injuries late in the season and the Jets’ playoff push fell short. He was off the team within a year.
2008: Vince Young – Young managed to take the Titans to the playoffs, but he quit on his team during the game and his relationship with the team was never truly repaired.
2007: Shaun Alexander – Alexander fractured his foot during the season and missed six games. His level of play never fully recovered.
2006: Donovan McNabb – McNabb battled a sports hernia for much of the season, missing seven games. He also engaged in a very public fight with receiver Terrell Owens.
2005: Ray Lewis - Lewis broke his wrist, but missed only one game. His play dropped off a bit, but he was largely unaffected by the curse.
2004: Michael Vick - Vick broke his leg playing in the preseason, just one day after Madden 2004 was released. He missed 11 games.
2003: Marshall Faulk – Faulk battled an ankle injury all season and was never the same player as he was prior to gracing the cover. He retired soon after.
2002: Daunte Culpepper – Had his season cut short when he went for knee surgery after just 11 games.
2001: Eddie George – Performed admirably during the season, but lost a key fumble in the playoffs that led to the Titans losing to the Ravens.
2000: Barry Sanders – Out of the blue, he retired just days before training camp.