Does the Madden cover jinx really exist? For some time, it was pretty evident that if you made the cover for the video game, you better watch out for your knees, elbows, head and more. Here’s a look back at the history of all the players who have been on the Madden covers and whether or not they were truly jinxed. – James Parziale
2000-01 season: Eddie George, RB, Titans (2001 cover)
George was all-world the year he was put on the Madden' cover. George rushed for 1,509 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2000-01, so he wasn’t quite cursed. But his numbers took a huge hit the following season with his yardage dropping to 939. He had never rushed for fewer than 1,294 yards prior to that, but that probably had to do with having over 400 touches the year before. Ouch. VERDICT: No jinx!
In 2000, Culpepper tore up the league with 33 touchdowns and 3,937 yards passing in his first year as a starter. He also ran for seven scores and 440 yards. Then he got on the 'Madden' cover. He ended up missing five games that season, but still threw 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and added five scores on the ground. The bugaboo carried over into the following season, as well, as his 2002 numbers (18 touchdowns, 23 interceptions) were not good. VERDICT: Jinx!
Faulk had just come off five straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons and had led the Rams to two Super Bowl appearances in three seasons. He was unanimously viewed as the most dangerous player in the league, and in the two prior seasons to his cover appearance, he scored 47 rushing and receiving touchdowns. Then came 2002-03, an injury-riddled season that saw Faulk play in just 14 games, starting 10. Faulk ran for 953 yards, his worst total in St. Louis, and never rushed for over 1,000 yards again. VERDICT: Jinx!
2003-04: Michael Vick, QB, Falcons (2004 cover)
Vick stunned the league the year before his 'Madden' cover experience. He rushed for over 700 yards and seven scores, threw for almost 3,000 yards with 16 touchdown passes, too. He even took the Falcons into the playoffs and beat the Packers -- the first time the latter ever lost at Lambeau in the postseason. The year after that, when he got on the 'Madden' cover, he broke his ankle in the preseason and played in just five games. VERDICT: Jinx!
AFP/Getty ImagesJEFF HANISCH
2004-05: Ray Lewis, LB, Ravens (2005 cover)
Lewis’ curse may have been delayed for a year. The year he was on the cover he had a fantastic season with 146 total tackles. It was the year after when Lewis got hurt and started in just six games. VERDICT: No jinx!
Getty ImagesFocus On Sport
2005-06: Donovan McNabb, QB, Eagles (2006 cover)
The year before McNabb donned the cover, he went 13-2 as a starter, threw for 3,675 yards, 31 scores and just eight interceptions. He added three scores on the ground. He led his team to within three points of a Super Bowl win. Sounds great! Cover-worthy, right? Well, he played in just nine games and went 4-5 the year after. He played in just 10 in 2006-07, as well, because of injuries. VERDICT: Jinx!
This was a layup. Alexander was coming off an 1,880-yard rushing campaign where he scored 27 touchdowns on the ground and added one more receiving touchdown. Like McNabb the year before, he came off a Super Bowl loss. He had rushed for more than 1,000 yards and had double-digit touchdowns in five straight seasons -- then the cover happened. He played in 10 games in 2006, ran for 896 yards and followed that up with a 716-yard campaign. He was out of the league by 2009. VERDICT: Jinx!
Getty ImagesG. N. Lowrance
2007-08: Vince Young, QB, Titans (2008 cover)
Young didn’t have a tremendous rookie year (12 passing touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 2,199 yards through the air) but he did run for 552 yards and seven scores, so he had some flare in going 8-5 as a starter. The next season his numbers weren’t very good (nine touchdowns, 17 interceptions) but he did go 9-6 and led the Titans to the playoffs. VERDICT: No jinx!
Getty ImagesJoe Murphy
2008-09: Brett Favre, QB, Packers (2009 cover)
Favre had a great season the year before, leading the Packers to the NFC title game. That offseason, Favre retired, unretired, forced a trade to the Jets and was on the 'Madden' cover. Yikes. Favre had the Jets out to an 8-3 start, but he tweaked his shoulder and the Jets sputtered down the stretch and missed the playoffs. VERDICT: Jinx!
Sporting News Archive
2009-10: Troy Polamalu, S, Steelers and Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Cardinals (2010 cover)
The first dual-player cover. Polamalu (right) was actually coming off an injury-shortened five-game season and had a fantastic year. In 14 games, he had seven interceptions and scored once. Polamalu also had a forced fumble. Fitzgerald (center) was also stellar with 90 catches for 1,137 yards and scored six times. VERDICT: No jinx!
AFP/Getty ImagesTIMOTHY A. CLARY
2010-11: Drew Brees, QB, Saints (2011 cover)
One of the most clutch 'Madden' cover performers ever, Brees broke the passing yardage mark with 5,476 yards with 46 touchdowns, too. The Saints went 13-3 and won the NFC South. One could say their bad luck came after the season when BountyGate broke, but Brees was jinx-free. VERDICT: No jinx!
Getty ImagesSean Gardner
2011-12: Peyton Hillis, RB, Browns (2012 cover)
Hillis was a beast the year before – 1,177 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns for the Browns earned him the nod for cover boy. He got hurt during his 'Madden' season, and has barely rushed for 1,100 yards total in four seasons since. VERDICT: Jinx!
Diamond Images/Getty ImagesDiamond Images
2012-13: Calvin Johnson, WR, Lions (2013 cover)
One of the best 'Madden' cover years ever. Megatron caught 122 passes and broke the single-season receiving mark with 1,964 yards. He was virtually unstoppable despite scoring just five times. VERDICT: No jinx!
Getty ImagesGregory Shamus
2013-14: Barry Sanders (retired, 2014 cover)
One of the greatest running backs of all time, Sanders was elected to the 25th anniversary cover by fans. No jinx here since he wasn’t playing.
Getty Images for EA SportsDavid Banks
2014-15: Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks (2015 cover)
He played in all 16 games, and even though his interceptions dropped from eight to four, he’s still arguably the best corner in the NFL. He was likely one Marshawn Lynch run away from being a back-to-back Super Bowl champion. VERDICT: No jinx!
The Giants wideout burst onto the scene as a rookie. In just 12 games he put up eye-popping numbers: 91 catches, 1,305 yards, 12 touchdowns. That included a grab against the Cowboys that broke the Internet (apologies to Kim Kardashian, but this was way better). This year, he's been hampered by nagging injuries through training camp, so we’ll see if being on the 'Madden' cover slows him down or not.