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Madden has been the power house of sports gaming for decades, but this series is one with a very dark past. The game series debuted as John Madden Football in 1988 for Apple computers if you can believe it. Madden made the jump to the SEGA Genesis and began it’s rise to power in the gaming world from then on. John Madden was the face of the game every year up until 1999 when the company finally realized an old ugly white dude who was simply continuing to get older and uglier just wasn’t who they wanted to promote an ever evolving simulation of the American gridiron. Coach Madden felt betrayed. The franchise that his name built had turned their back on him, and this was something that John could not just let go. Ever since the hall of fame coach has been dethroned he has vowed vengeance upon anyone who dares to take his place. Behind closed doors Coach Madden is a very dark and powerful sorcerer, and he has hexed the featured player from 1999 up until now. He will not stop his unrelenting quest for vengeance because this is a wound that John has never been able to close.

you messed with the wrong guy

Lets explore the curse a little deeper. In 1999 when the new Madden 2000 was being set to be released Electronic Arts decided to ease out of the old coach by putting a faded blue picture of Barry Sanders behind a picture of Madden himself. When John got wind of the betrayal he used his dark magic to end Barry Sanders playing days for good. Sanders, under a commanding curse from Madden, unexpectedly retired from the game for good. With this the battle between EA and John Madden began. Coach Madden in a blind rage cursed Sanders well before the games release giving EA time to replace the graphic and eliminate Madden all together. They replaced the image with Dorsey Levens who played for the Green Bay Packers. In years prior the Packers had just played in back-to-back super bowls and been a dominant force in the NFC, but with the newly cursed running back they couldn’t even make it to the playoffs. Since Madden was just getting his grip on his magical forces Levens actually had a decent season, but he was dealing with a bad knee all year that eventually turned into his demise. He was cut from Green Bay at the end of 2001.

poor guy didn't know the war he was starting

This was only the beginning. Eddie George from the Tennessee Titans decided to step up and be honored as the 2001 Madden cover. Madden used a curse that went undetected by EA for nearly the entire season. Eddie went on to have his best statistical year of his career. EA seemed to have won the battle until disaster struck in the Titans divisional playoff game with the Baltimore Ravens. Eddie George bobbled a pass that turned into an interception, and subsequently cost the Titans the game and their season. The 2001 curse lingered and Eddie George turned out his worst rushing average as he was hampered by injuries for all of the following season.

Madden 2002 brought on the next contender in Daunte Culpepper. A man who was regarded as one of the elite quarter backs of the time, but you take on John Madden and he will destroy you. Daunte struggled for the Vikings as they were only 4-7 before Madden decided to put him out of his misery with a season ending knee injury. The Minnesota Vikings went on to a misreble 5-11 record after going to the NFC championship game just one year prior.

For 2003 one of the all time greats figured he was up to the task. Marshall Faulk came into the season with four back-to-back-to-back-to-back +1,300 yard rushing seasons. EA figured they had an unstoppable force with Faulk, but once again they underestimated the power of vengeance. Faulk was plagued with an ankle injury all year and failed to even reach the 1,000 yard mark.

Michael Vick was a cocky young rising star who had been called Superman for his speed and electrifying quality on the field. John Madden ended his high flying expectations for 2004 when he cursed Vick just one day after the release of the Vick covered Madden. Michael only saw the field for the last five games after a fractured fibula in pre-season, and the Falcons suffered greatly going 5-11.

Electronic Arts figured they could beat the system by replacing the Madden cover player with a defensive guy in 2005. Ray Lewis didn’t believe in any stupid curse. For the first time in his career he didn’t record a single interception after picking off 7 just one year before. He also sat out the last game of the season with an injury as the Ravens missed the playoffs. They had made the playoffs three of the past four years.

The ignorance of the players continues to keep the tradition going. In 2006 Donovan McNabb took on the task by saying, “…might be a trend, but I don’t believe in the curse at all”. If only he weren’t so naive. In the very first game McNabb suffered a sports hernia. He attempted to will himself through the season all just to prove the curse wrong, but Madden clenched his grip and reinjured McNabb against Dallas ending Donovan’s season. Philadelphia placed last in the NFC East after making the playoffs five straight years prior.

In 2007 Shaun Alexander graced the cover after a great season that led the Seahawks to their very first super bowl appearance. Also in an attempt to reconcile EA put out a special addition with Madden on the cover just like old times. After John realized no one was buying the game with his face on it he snapped back into his vendetta on EA. So in week three Alexander broke his foot and missed the next six games. Same old story. John Madden will always prevail.

damnit, if you weren't so unmarketable this war could be over

2008 brought on a new challenge for Coach Madden and his curse when Vince Young took on the cover. Young hurt his quadriceps in week 5 and missed his first game due to injury in the history of his playing career (high school/ college/ pro).

EA got real clever for 2009’s game. They decided to put Brett Favre on the cover after he retired. Good luck injuring a player when he no longer plays the game. Do not test the might of Madden. He used his dark magic on Favre to bring him out of retirement so he can lead the league in interceptions with the Jets while playing with a torn biceps. In a crude joke Madden also cursed Favre with a retirement loop. Every year Brett will retire only to come out of retirement until he is either dead or unwanted.

Favre doesn't even know the loop he is doomed to

EA was stubborn. They refused to wave the white flag in surrender. They tried something new that opened up a possible weakness for John Madden. They put two players on the cover at once. Madden scrambled to handle with the two players at once, but only got to Troy Polamalu in time. He sprained his MCL missing three games only to come back and be re-injured. He hurt his posterior cruciate ligament in November and missed even more games. For all intensive purposes Larry Fitzgerald got out of the season untampered with. John realized he had been tricked and finally gave some ground back to EA, but in a last ditch effort Coach Madden cursed Larry with a rib injury causing him to miss the pro bowl.

The war between Electronic arts and John Madden will more than likely never end. EA has finally caught Madden with a weakness, and intends to continue to fight back. They seem to have gotten over confident as they fell back into their old cycle this year by putting only Drew Brees on the cover, but my guess is they’ve got some sort of trick up their sleeves. Best of luck Drew, and watch your back because the power of John Madden has no bounds.

the war continues in 2011

-DJ

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