KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wait, wait, WAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT! STOPPPPPPPPP!
Look, before you go out and do something dumb, before you act with your heart instead of your head, before you go all Chiefffffffffffs and push the "vote" button by that little picture of Jamaal Charles, keep this number in mind:
Since 2001, that’s the average drop in rushing yards of the four NFL running backs to appear on the cover of the mega-popular Madden Football video game series, from the fall before they appeared on the cover to the fall in which their image actually turned up in stores.
RUNNING BACKS ON MADDEN COVERS SINCE 2001
Eddie George, Titans
Marshall Faulk, Rams
Shaun Alexander, Seahawks
Peyton Hillis, Browns
Well, now. We certainly know how the rest of that Hillis story went, don’t we?
It hates tailbacks most of all. It chews them up, devours them, without change, without passion and without logic. It lives to kill. It’s a mindless, running-back-eating machine. It’s like the shark from "Jaws," a miracle of evolution. All this curse does is swim and eat and make little curses.
Mostly under your breath.
The cover vote for Madden 15 is into Round 2 — the quarterfinals, Elite Eight, whatever you want to call it — and Charles is still in the field, on course for disaster.
The Kansas City Chiefs’ Pro Bowl back edged Bengals wideout A.J. Green in the first round, 52-48, and this week is lined up against Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. Voting for the next round ends Thursday.
On the plus side, Charles was listed as the "fifth-most talked about" Madden cover candidate on Twitter, as of early Monday afternoon, behind Richard Sherman (yep), Colin Kaepernick (sure), Nick Foles (interesting) and Alfred Morris (huh?).
Good job, dude. Congrats. But you don’t want this song to go on for much longer.
Because here’s another number to remember:
As in, that’s the average drop in yards per carry of those four aforementioned tailbacks — George, Faulk, Alexander and Hillis — the season that they appeared on the Madden cover, relative to the season before.
CHIEFS CHEERLEADERS: Flip through our photo album of Chiefs cheerleaders.
A yard per tote. If Charles drops off a yard per carry, fantasy owners are going to go out and do something nuts, like actually doing yard work on Sundays this fall instead of staring at the ticker or screaming at their smartphones.
Curse deniers will tell you that the Unlucky Four were a product of a natural career regression, the common wear and tear that ages NFL running backs prematurely. But the Cursed Quartet’s average age, when the MC struck, was 28. The same age Charles turns in December.
No. 25 is 27, still in the prime of his football life. Hillis was 25 when the MC got him. Alexander was 29. Faulk was 30. George was 28.
When it hit them, it hit them like a truck. Eighteen wheels. No mercy.
Before long, weird things started piling up. Bad knees. Foot injuries. Hamstring pulls. Strep throat. And the scariest number of all might be this one:
That’s the drop in rushing touchdowns for those Unlucky Four, pre-cover and post-cover.
Nine freaking scores. That kind of love, Charles could do without.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter at @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.