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5 Madden Curse victims ft. Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski

5 Madden Curse victims ft. Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski

The ‘Madden Curse’ is a well-known idea amongst NFL fans and gamers across the world.

The curse, apparently, leads to the cover star of a year’s video game having a terrible season in the following campaign. The curse is strange because only the best players in the league get to grace EA Sports’ franchise football game, but the curse knows no bounds.

Many players have had elite seasons before landing the gig to be the cover star of Madden, and then almost immediately have fallen into obscurity. Here, we look at five prominent ‘victims’ of this supposed curse and look at how this ‘curse’ affected them.

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#5 – Shaun Alexander (Madden 07)

Madden 07 cover athlete, Shaun Alexander

Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander was one of the outstanding backs in the NFL during the mid-2000s, clocking up five consecutive seasons with 15+ touchdowns.

In 2005, Alexander won NFL Most Valuable Player honors, as he had 1,880 yards and an amazing 27 touchdowns.

However, the curse would strike early during the following season, as Alexander would break his foot in Week 3, just weeks after being named Madden cover athlete. He suffered with various injuries towards the tail-end of his career and was out of the NFL after the 2008 season.

#4 – Donovan McNabb (Madden 06)

Donovan McNabb on the cover of Madden 06

Philadelphia Eagles QB Donovan McNabb struggled with multiple injuries after being named as the cover star for Madden 06.

Soon after the announcement, McNabb had a very public falling out with star receiver Terrell Owens, and ended 2005 on the injured reserve list with a groin injury.

The next year, he tore his ACL and meniscus in his right knee and was once again sidelined for the remainder of the season. He would battle through injuries but would retire in 2011.

#3 – Rob Gronkowski (Madden 17)

Rob Gronkowski on the cover of Madden 17

New England Patriots’ legendary tight end Rob Gronkowski was at the peak of his powers when EA announced that he would be the cover athlete for Madden 17. Teaming up with teammate and friend Tom Brady, Gronk had amassed 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015.

However, in 2016, Gronkowski couldn’t stay healthy, missing the first two games of the season with a hamstring problem. He then suffered a pulmonary contusion against Seattle in week 11. His campaign ended with 540 yards and three touchdowns on 25 catches, and he was sidelined for the Patriots’ Super Bowl LI win.

#2 – Peyton Hillis (Madden 12)

Peyton Hillis, cover athlete of Madden 12

Cleveland Browns FB Peyton Hillis was the shock choice for Madden 12’s cover after he clocked up 1,177 yards rushing and 477 receiving yards the year prior.

However, this was as good as it got for Hillis, who was a one-year wonder, never gaining over 700 yards from scrimmage outside his 2010 breakout campaign.

After being named cover athlete, Hillis struggled with strep throat and hamstring problems as he only saw the field for 10 games all year. He was released by the Browns after the season and returned to his backup role with the Chiefs and Giants thereafter.

#1 – Antonio Brown (Madden 19)

Antonio Brown on the cover of Madden 19

The Madden curse is usually reserved for players who suffer from injuries after gracing its cover, but Antonio Brown’s actions have led to him being on this list. He graced the cover of Madden 19.

Despite stats showing him catching 104 passes for 1,297 yards and 15 touchdowns the next season, Brown sat out the Steelers’ final game of the season. This was following an argument with QB Ben Roethlisberger.

This led to a bizarre offseason where Brown demanded a trade to the Oakland Raiders. He claimed that he had frostbite on his feet and threatened to retire if the NFL didn’t let him wear his preferred helmet.

Brown’s actions led him to being cut by the Raiders before ever suiting up for them. Despite winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, his legacy may always be defined as a result of the Madden curse.

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