Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson insists he doesn’t fear the Madden Curse.
Some Lions fans, however, are hoping their team’s star actually loses to Carolina quarterback Cam Newton in the final voting to determine the featured player on the cover of EA Sports’ “Madden NFL 13” cover. The winner will be announced Wednesday.
“I’m not a big guy for curses,” Johnson told reporters Tuesday. “I don’t even think about it.”
The question is whether Johnson, who had 96 receptions for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, could overcome the perceived curse that has hit so many of the Madden video-game cover boys.
The jinx supposedly started after San Francisco running back Garrison Hearst appeared on the cover for the 1999 version of the Madden game. Hearst broke an ankle on his first carry and never was the same player again.
A year later, Lions running back Barry Sanders shocked the NFL by announcing his retirement from the game shortly before training camp and just after he was selected for the cover.
The curse, according to superstitious Madden junkies, has continued from there:
• Minnesota quarterback Daunte Culpepper (2002 cover) promptly became a turnover machine.
• St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk (2003) was set back by knee injuries.
• Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick (2004) broke his leg in an exhibition game.
• Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb (2006) suffered a hernia and a knee injury.
• Seattle running back Shaun Alexander (2007) sustained a foot injury during training camp.
• Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre (2009) came out of retirement and failed miserably with the New York Jets.
• Pittsburgh safety Troy Polamalu (2010) battled a variety of injuries.
• Cleveland running back Peyton Hillis (2012) was hampered by a leg injury and strep throat.
Hillis has admitted he’s become a believer in the curse.
To Johnson, it’s all nonsense. He is adamant that he wants to win the voting and appear on the cover.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Johnson said. “It would be very cool to have that.
“It’d be good for the city, good for this organization and especially good for my foundation (benefiting at-risk youth).”
That’s what some other players thought, too, before the curse struck them.