One would think that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady would be at least a little bit wary of appearing on the cover of the next Madden video game.
He's not exactly a rookie at 39 years old and, even if he thinks his diet makes him Superman, probably only has a few NFL seasons left. Plus, there's the matter of teammate Rob Gronkowski, who was limited to just eight games because of a back injury last season after appearing on the cover, the latest NFL player to succumb to the so-called "Madden Curse."
Nah, he's fine with it.
In an EA-issued statement, Brady doesn't seem worried about the curse. You can tell because of all the exclamation marks.
"The cover is a great honour for me," Brady said. "Especially since I have been playing the game since growing up next to EA headquarters in the Bay Area. I'm not one to believe in curses, so I'm ready to take the challenge head on like always! It doesn't stand a chance!!!"
He even took to Facebook to triple-down on his disbelief in curses, breaking a mirror and walking under a ladder.
There have been a few successes among the Madden cover subjects, notably former Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson (Madden 13, NFL single-season receiving yards record) and Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman (Madden 15, first-team all-pro). But the list of post-Madden flops is much longer (for clarity's sake, the year that follows the player's name is the NFL season in which he appeared on the cover):
- Garrison Hearst, 1998: Hearst actually had a breakout season after he appeared on the cover, rushing for 1,570 yards and seven touchdowns. But then he suffered a gruesome ankle injury in the 49ers' second playoff game that season and sat out the next two years.
- Daunte Culpepper, 2001: After a 33-touchdown season in 2000, Culpepper played in just 11 games during his Madden cover year, throwing for 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions before missing the Vikings' last five games with a knee injury.
- Marshall Faulk, 2002: Faulk made the Madden cover after rushing for at least 1,000 yards in seven of his first eight NFL seasons. But he would never see 1,000 rushing yards again after appearing on the cover, finishing with 953 in 2002 (he did have 80 receptions, however).
- Michael Vick, 2003: Vick suffered a fractured fibula during a Falcons preseason game and missed Atlanta's first 11 regular season games.
- Donovan McNabb, 2005: McNabb was named NFL player of the month for September in 2005, but a sports hernia and thumb injury limited him to just nine games.
- Shaun Alexander, 2006: After signing the biggest running back contract in NFL history and landing the Madden cover, Alexander broke his left foot in Week 3. He returned and rushed for 201 yards in a November game against the Packers, but he had nearly 1,000 fewer rushing yards than the year before.
- Vince Young, 2007: One season after being named NFL rookie of the year, Young started 15 games and helped lead the Titans to the playoffs. But he battled a quad injury all season and finished with nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He lost his job to an aging Kerry Collins the next season and started just 22 games over his final four NFL seasons.
- Peyton Hillis, 2011: If there's a cover boy for the Madden Curse, it's Hillis, who followed a 1,177-yard, 11-touchdown season in 2010 with an injury-laden 2011 and a steady decline after that.
- Rob Gronkowski, 2016: See above.