Each year since 1988, EA sports has released Madden NFL football, a game that allows users to play football as their favorite stars. Since 1998, there has been a rumor circulating that any athlete who graces the cover of the popular video game will get hurt that year and have to miss time.
Image: EA Sports releases John Madden Football in 1988
One of the biggest recent examples of this was in 2016 when Rob Gronkowski made the cover of Madden 2017. That season Gronkowski was limited to just 8 games with multiple injuries throughout the 2016 season. Gronkowski only caught 25 passes for 540 yards and 3 touchdowns, while in the previous season, Gronkowski caught 72 passes for 1,176 yards and 11 touchdowns. Other instances include Adrian Peterson (2014), Drew Brees (2011), and Brett Favre (2009).
Image: Rob Gronkowski being carted off the field during a 2016 home game
This years cover athlete Antonio Brown did not suffer an injury, however, I still believe the curse hit him, but in a different way. Brown had a solid year on the field, catching 104 passes for 1,297 yards in 15 games for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown has now had 6 consecutive seasons of 100+ receptions and 1200+ receiving yards and has gained a reputation as one of the best players in football. But this year was different from any of the last 6.
Image: Antonio Brown on the cover of Madden NFL 19
Off the field, the Steelers had to first deal with the drama that was Le’Veon Bell. Bell sat out the entire season due to a contract dispute, and caused a lot of extra media attention to be put on the Steelers, something that no NFL team wants to deal with. Then there was the drama with Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Tomlin, James Conner, and other Steelers that I truly believe contributed to why the Steelers missed out on the playoffs by just half a game.
Image: Fan holds up Bell Jersey with for sale sign, Bell did not play for Steelers in 2018 due to a contract dispute
However through all of this, Brown was slowly becoming a problem for the Steelers off the field. In September, he was seen challenging offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner on the sideline during the game. In October, Brown was seen throwing a water cooler on the sideline during an argument. Each time Brown would act out, Brown would come apologize and try to move on.
Image: Brown throws a water cooler during game in October
Image: Brown yells in the face of offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner
The real shocker came in week 17, when just 2 days before the Steelers final game of the year, a game that had playoff implications, Brown went dark on the team. He didn’t answer calls, texts, emails, or any form of communication. Nobody could reach the star wide out. Brown would skip the team walk through on Saturday night, skip the game on Sunday, and not have any form of communication with anyone on the Steelers for that week. Funny enough, this was the week the Brown’s episode of the Masked Singer, a new singing competition show on Fox, premiered and people were surprised to see Brown on the show and not with his team. Since then, Brown has requested to be traded away from the Steelers, and wants a fresh start to the 2nd half of his career.
Image: Antonio Brown on stage with Nick Cannon preforming on the Masked Singer during the week 17 of the NFL season
So while the Madden curse technically didn’t cost Antonio Brown any playing time this year, he hurt his image by acting out, he lost the respect of his teammates and coaches by not showing up for the game, and he will ultimately be leaving the only professional team he has ever played for. So in my opinion, the Madden Curse is alive and real!
Image: Antonio Brown sulks on the sideline during a game
Do you think the Madden Curse is real? What’s your favorite instance of the Madden Curse? Leave a comment below and let me know, and as always, thanks for reading!