Gronk’s on the Madden Cover, But Is He Cursed?

Thursday evening on SportsCenter, the new Madden ’17 cover was revealed with Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski appropriately spiking the ball.

Gronkowski always spikes the ball after a touchdown pass, and this seems to symbolize an achievement of making the cover. As the league’s premiere tight end, a 4-time Pro Bowler, 3-time All-Pro, and 66 touchdowns in 6 seasons, he has certainly earned it. The first thought many have when they hear an NFL Superstar has graced the cover, though, is whether or not said player is cursed for it.

John Madden is not only a Hall of Fame NFL head coach and beloved broadcaster, but his brand has been a staple for the gamer community since 1988 when “John Madden Football” was released on PC. Only Madden had appeared on the cover from ’88 until 1994, when the Cowboys tackle Erik Williams and 49ers defensive lineman Karl Wilson appeared in the cover’s background. Williams was a Pro Bowler, but missed half of the ’94 season after being injured in a serious car accident. Wilson was never a player of much significance, but he wasn’t a 49er the season he graced the cover of Madden. Madden would go back to being the lone figure on his video game covers until 1999.

Over the years, players who graced the cover have either taken a step back in their production, were injured, or something else went wrong that season. Let’s take a look at every Madden cover player to see if Gronkowski should be worried.

1998 Garrison Hearst – RB, 49ers

Garrison Madden

1997 – 1,019 rush yards, 194 receiving, 6 total touchdowns

1998 – 1,570 rush yards, 535 receiving, 9 total touchdowns

1998 Dorsey Levens – RB, Packers

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 6.19.20 PM

Barry Sanders was in the background of the John Madden version.

1998 – 4 starts, 540 total yards, 1 TD

1999 – 14 games, 1,607 total yards, 10 TD

2000 Eddie George – RB, Titans

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1999 – 1,762 total yards, 13 touchdowns

2000 – 1,962 total yards, 16 touchdowns

2001 Daunte Culpepper – QB, Vikings

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2000 – 3,937 pass yards, 33 TDs, 16 INTs

*2001 – 2,612 pass yards, 14 TDs, 13 INTs

*Missed the last 5 games of the season because of a knee injury.

2002 Marshall Faulk – RB, Rams

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 6.36.53 PM

2001 – 2,147 total yards, 21 touchdowns

*2002 – 1,490 total yards, 10 touchdowns

Started just 10 games battling injuries.

2003 Michael Vick – QB, Falcons

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2002 – 2,936 pass yards, 777 rush yards, 24 total TDs

2003 – Missed 11 games due to a preseason fibula injury.

2004 Ray Lewis – MLB, Ravens

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2003 – 120 tackles, 6 INTs

2004 – 100 tackles, 0 INTs

2005 Donovan McNabb – QB, Eagles

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2004 – 3,875 pass yards, 31 TDs, 8 INTs

2005 – Went on IR after 9 games and feuded with Terrell Owens

2006 Shaun Alexander – RB, Seahawks

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2005 – 1,880 rush yards, 27 touchdowns

2006 – Broke his foot in Week 3

2007 Vince Young – QB, Titans

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.20.47 PM

2006 – 2,199 pass yards, 19 total touchdowns, 12 INTs

2007 – 2,546 pass yards, 9 touchdown passes, 17 INTs

2008 Brett Favre – QB, Packers/Jets

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 7.28.27 PM

2007 – 4,155 pass yards, 28 TDs, 15 INTs

2008 – 3,472 pass yards, 22 TDs, 22 INTs

2009 Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald

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Polamalu played just 5 games because of injuries in 2009

Fitzgerald scored a career high 13 touchdowns in 2009

2010 Drew Brees – QB, Saints

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 8.33.13 PM

2009 – 4,388 pass yards, 34 TDs, 11 INTs

2010 – 4,620 pass yards, 33 TDs, 22 INTs

2011 Peyton Hillis – RB, Browns

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 8.50.16 PM

2010 – 1,177 rush yards, 11 TDs

2011 – Missed 6 games with injuries and strep throat.

2012 Calvin Johnson – WR, Lions

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 8.53.00 PM

2011 – 96 catches, 1,681 yards, 16 TDs

2012 – 122 catches, 1,964 yards 6 TDs

2013 Barry Sanders (25th Anniversary)

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Was voted by fans to be on the cover.

2014 Richard Sherman – CB, Seahawks

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 9.10.02 PM

2013 – Pro Bowl, Won Super Bowl

2014 – Pro Bowl, Lost Super Bowl

2015 Odell Beckham Jr. – WR, Giants

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 9.14.49 PM

2014 – 91 catches, 1,305 yards, 12 TDs

2015 – 96 catches, 1,450 yards, 13 TDs

 

Of the 20 players on the Madden cover, 7 were injured but 6 had significantly better seasons. The remaining 7 either played worse, had a normal season…or were Barry Sanders. The “Madden Curse” hasn’t applied to anyone over the past 4 years. Hopefully Gronkowski can breathe easier for it. I’m sure he will.

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