In May it was announced that Tom Brady would be on the cover of EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 18,” the latest version of the popular video-game franchise.
Much like the popular Sports Illustrated-cover curse, the Madden video game has its own eyebrow-raising history: the “Madden Curse.”
Ever since athletes began appearing on the cover of Madden in the late ’90s, they seem to almost immediately lose significant amounts of playing time because of injuries, run-ins with the law, or other reasons.
Early years of the Madden video-game franchise
In the early years of the Madden franchise, players occasionally appeared on the cover with John Madden, typically in the background. However, more often, Madden appeared on the cover by himself.
Madden 99 — Garrison Hearst
EA Sports tried something new for Madden 99 (released in 1998). While John Madden appeared on covers in North America, Garrison Hearst of the San Francisco 49ers appeared on the cover of the PAL version released in other parts of the world. In 1998, Hearst had his best season as a pro, rushing for 1,570 yards. However, on his first carry of the divisional playoff game against the Atlanta Falcons, he severely broke his ankle and he would miss the next two seasons. This is considered the beginning of the curse.
Madden 2000 — Barry Sanders
Barry Sanders is not always considered part of the curse, but we include him here for you to decide. Shortly after it was announced that he would be on the cover (behind John Madden in the background), he announced he was retiring from the NFL and would never play again.