Monday, 26th August 2019

The Madden Curse

Posted on 02. Feb, 2011 by FSM Staff in Highlight, NFL

The Madden Curse

As NFL fans from around the globe patiently wait for the Super Bowl this month, they are killing time by talking trash and debating football pop-culture. With Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints taking an early flight out of the Playoffs this season, discussion of the “Madden Curse” has sparked up between amigos yet again.

For those readers out there who know not of the curse or its wicked ways, all will be revealed if you keep reading (and click some Google ads while you’re at it). John Madden is a legendary personality in the history of the NFL as a coach and broadcaster. He is also filthy stinkin’ rich thanks to the tremendously successful video game franchise “Madden”. For the last ten years or so, there has been a different NFL superstar on the cover of the latest edition of the game. And for the last ten years or so, that superstar usually has some bad luck with injuries and life in general after he has made the cover. Some say coincidence while others claim that higher powers are at play. Whatever the reason, most fans believe that the “curse” is on a player’s mind when he agrees to be on the Madden cover.

Much like the Swiss, FreeSportsMag does not have an official stance on the Madden Curse. While we do not formally recognize its existence, we acknowledge that something doesn’t smell quite right about the situation. Here is a list of NFL players that made the Madden cover in the last decade and a brief summary of life for them after the big photo shoot. You can decide for yourself if you believe in this curse…

2001 Eddie George – After appearing on the game cover, George and the Tennessee Titans crapped out of the 2001 NFL playoffs which doesn’t seem too bad. George also never averaged more than 3.3 yards per carry for the remainder of his career which is bad however.

2002 Daunte Culpepper – Making the cover in 2002, Culpepper led the Minnesota Vikings to a 5-11 season record. And as a special “curse” bonus, Culpepper set an NFL record for fumbles in a season. In 2005 and 2006 Culpepper suffered serious knee issues and he has never been the same since.

2003 Marshall Faulk – The season Faulk appeared on the Madden cover was the beginning of the end for him and the Super Bowl caliber St. Louis Rams. Faulk’s yards per carry declined for the next three seasons until he retired due to knee problems.

2004 Michael Vick – Vick barely made it to the 2004 season. He broke his leg during a meaningless pre-season game which caused him to miss the first 12 meaningful games of the real season for the Atlanta Falcons. Vick would later get in trouble with the law and go to prison for his role in illegal dog fighting. But more recently, Vick resurrected himself with the Philadelphia Eagles making the Pro Bowl this season. Is this evidence the curse can be lifted?

2005 Ray Lewis – Ray Lewis survived the curse for the first 14 games of the 2005 NFL season but his streak ended with a week 15 wrist injury. Lewis also finished the season without an interception for the first time in his career. All other cover models considered, Lewis got off relatively easy. He is still an all-pro middle linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and shows no signs of slowing down. Some would even argue that he is getting away with murder. We just think the curse is scared of him.

2006 Donovan McNabb – McNabb suffered a season ending ACL injury to his right knee after he made the cover for the 2006 season. The Philadelphia Eagles ultimately unloaded McNabb by trading him to the Washington Redskins which has been a wasteland of fading stars in the past few years.

2007 Shaun Alexander – After being named MVP the previous season, Alexander fought a foot injury causing him to miss six starts during the 2007 campaign. Alexander would never regain his MVP form and eventually found his way on to the Redskins much like his 2006 predecessor.

2008 Vince Young – Young did not have any severe injuries or bad luck after appearing on the Madden cover. He had a
decent season and it was not until more recently that injuries and personality differences with his head coach have caused his future with the Tennessee Titans to be in jeopardy.

2009 Brett Favre – A retired Favre made the 2009 cover in a Green Bay Packer uniform. Shortly after the game was released, Favre unretired and joined the New York Jets forcing EA sports to release an updated Madden cover online. The Jets started the season 8-3 but ended 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Favre led the NFL in interceptions that season with 22 while playing with a torn bicep for the final five games.

2010 Larry Fitzgerald / Troy Polamalu – Polamalu and Fitz were both featured on the 2010 edition of Madden thanks to the popularity of the Steelers/Cardinals Super Bowl game the previous season. It was the first time in the game’s history that two players were pictured on the same cover. Polamalu sprained his MCL during the first regular season game of the 2010 season and missed the next four games. He also missed games later in the season with a different ligament injury and the Steelers ended the 2010 campaign in a manner not befitting of champions. Larry Fitzgerald on the other hand was able to start all 16 regular season games and was voted in to the 2010 Pro Bowl.

2011 Drew Brees – After shocking the world by defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl the prior year, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints shocked the world again last month by losing in the first round of the playoffs to the undeserving 7-9 Seattle Seahawks. Many experts are calling it one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history.

Lights Out for Shawne Merriman

Posted on 15. Oct, 2010 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NFL

Lights Out for Shawne Merriman

Add Shawne Merriman to the list of superstars discarded by the San Diego Chargers. The announcement was made earlier this week that the Chargers have placed Merriman on the injured reserved list with a “minor injury” designation. NFL regulations require that players with this designation be released upon returning to full health.

The Chargers will have an opportunity to resign Shawne Merriman after his release though this scenario is highly unlikely. If management wanted to keep him in San Diego they would have never placed him on the IR to begin with. And even if the Chargers made the effort, would Merriman give them the time of day? Fans who are familiar with Merriman’s strong personality would tell you hell no.

This article is by no means written to defend Shawne Merriman. His multitude of injuries aside, Merriman has been plagued by issues off the field including problems with the law and steroid use. Not too many would argue that keeping him is more trouble than he is worth. This article is simply an observation that NFL teams these days are more willing to part with big name stars for very little or nothing in return.

Is it arrogance on the part of the Chargers that is the driving force behind the dissociation with talented players like LaDainian Tomlinson, Vincent Jackson, and Shawne Merriman? This perceived disloyalty definitely cannot be good for the business of attracting quality players down the road. No one wants to play for an organization with an itchy trigger finger.

For the present time, Merriman is taking everything in stride. In a statement released through his publicist, Merriman quite uncharacteristically let the football world know the following:

“I have been blessed to call San Diego my home for the past six years. I can’t say enough about my teammates, the coaching staff and of course the fans who have made my career with the Chargers such an amazing experience. I am approaching this situation as an opportunity to grow as a player and to bring my leadership and talents to a new organization. I am ready for the next chapter in my career and I am excited about the opportunity to continue my journey with a new team.”

McNabb’s Wings Clipped in Philly

Posted on 05. Apr, 2010 by FSM Staff in General Sports, NFL

McNabb’s Wings Clipped in Philly

Donovan McNabb is no longer soaring high with the Eagles. Instead, his wings have been clipped and he has landed in Washington to join a band of sacred people. News hit early this month that the Philadelphia Eagles have traded their one-time franchise quarterback to the Washington Redskins for two draft picks (the 37th overall and a pick in 2011).

The 33 year old quarterback is starting the second voyage in his career. The first voyage was like watching Rodney Dangerfield do his thing. Quality for the most part, but still, somehow, he got no respect. Perhaps he’ll get some when they realize no one is there to throw 75 yard bombs to DeSean Jackson.

News reports indicate that super McNabb aficionado (and Eagles head coach) Andy Reid was reluctant to let his little baby go. At the end of the day though, results are what matter in the NFL. A decade of work with McNabb as his co-pilot and even Reid finally acknowledged that one unsuccessful trip to the Super Bowl is not the optimal result for 10 years of blood, sweat, and tears. So the sun set in Philadelphia and rose in Washington.

This departure should not tarnish Donovan McNabb’s good name. He performed well in a city that is notorious for its bipolar sports fans. They love you, they hate you, they hate you. Once in a while McNabb would bicker aloud or say the wrong thing. Once in a while he would say he didn’t know a game could end in a tie. Most of the time though, McNabb would flash that giant crooked smile to the fans and be happy peddling his chunky soups.

Trading McNabb won’t have a devastating effect on the Eagle’s franchise. Perhaps the only thing the Eagles can be accused of is making this move prematurely (or being disloyal if you’re a die-hard McNabb fan). Andy Reid probably could have worked his magic, the incompetent wizard that he is, and squeezed a few more seasons out of McNabb. But the allure of a second round pick was too strong in the end, and the Eagles made a solid deal with the Redskins.

Football fans in Washington now wait with open arms. The Zorn-Campbell era will soon be a fuzzy memory, tucked away with other sports moments Washington fans try not think about. The trade will most likely be a blessing in disguise for Jason Campbell as well, big tease that he is. He will make an excellent back-up to McNabb should he stick around or he may be given the opportunity for a fresh start. There will no doubt be teams interested in a 28 year-old quarterback who was tough enough to survive a brutally bad Redskins offensive line last season.

The Washington Redskins currently have many nice pieces in place, on the field and in the front office. Donovan McNabb does not have big shoes to fill but expectations are still high – high enough for both parties to be working on a new contract at least.

For Johnson, Size Matters

Posted on 04. Jan, 2010 by FSM Staff in NFL

For Johnson, Size Matters

Running backs in the NFL have what Arnold Schwarzenegger would call a “raw deal”. They are handed a leather oblong and are told to beat eleven men of various shapes and sizes down an unforgiving field of grass and turf. Gaining 1,000 yards rushing in an NFL season may be common these days, but it is definitely still something to applaud. Gaining 2,000 yards rushing in a single NFL season is by no means common and deserves more than clapping. A 2,000 yard season can be considered legendary and at the very least requires a standing ovation. In fact, if you see a 2,000 yard rusher pass you by on the street, it would be perfectly acceptable to bow down right then and there. Only six players in the history of the NFL have ever achieved this great feat. The latest is Tennessee Titans running back Chris “Sonic the Hedgehog” Johnson and he was the first one to do it since 1984.

What makes Johnson’s accomplishment of 2,006 yards extra impressive is his small size. Not small for most people of course, but small for a running back who is trying to rush for 2,000 yards. Chris Johnson stands around 5’11” and weighs about 200 lbs. This is not exactly the ideal size for a running back who runs the ball as much as Johnson does. To get some perspective, one can compare him to NFL great Eric Dickerson (the last player to rush for over 2,000 yards). Dickerson stood 6’3” and weighed in the area of 220 lbs. Dickerson’s body was much more equipped to take a beating from the beasts in the NFL. Johnson was nicknamed after a hedgehog for a reason and it wasn’t because he is the size of an elephant.

While Johnson fell short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s single season rushing record of 2,105 yards, he did succeed in breaking Marshall Faulk’s yard from scrimmage record. Johnson piled up 2,509 total yards from the line of scrimmage passing Faulk at the 2,429th yard. In what can be described as an odd season for the Titans (starting 0-6 then finishing the season 8-2), Chris Johnson was definitely a bright spot. The fans in Tennessee have something to look forward to as Johnson has stated he still plans on breaking Dickerson’s single season rushing record next year.

I’ll end by giving Sonic the Hedgehog a standing ovation. Even though nobody is watching, I urge that you do the same. Chris Johnson is a hard worker and an asset to the NFL. He has love for the game and understands that he is part of something bigger than himself. Some would have taken all the credit after a 2,000 yard season. Johnson instead chose to give his linemen Rolex watches in appreciation of their efforts.


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