The first round of fan voting to determine the next cover athlete of EA’s popular Madden NFL series has concluded, leaving sixteen players still in contention including Saints quarterback Drew Brees.
Fans will now have to continue voting in a bracket style system that puts players in a head-to-head battle where there can be only one winner. The current bracket is below and can be voted on by following this link.
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers vs. Rams QB Sam Bradford
Giants WR Hakeem Nicks vs. Patriots RB Danny Woodhead
Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles
Browns RB Peyton Hillis vs. Falcons QB Matt Ryan
Chargers QB Philip Rivers vs. Vikings RB Adrian Peterson
Jets QB Mark Sanchez vs. Saints QB Drew Brees
Eagles QB Michael Vick vs. Texans WR Andre Johnson
49ers LB Patrick Willis vs. Steelers WR Hines Ward
If Brees did win it would be his second consecutive appearance on the cover, having donned the cover of Madden NFL 11 after the Saints Super Bowl win and 13-3 season in 2009. It would be the first time a player appeared on the cover more than once and in back-to-back years.
However fans have to be somewhat concerned with the “Madden Curse” said to befall the cover athletes given that most struggle or are hurt the following season after their appearance.
Brees for instance did what no quarterback has ever done for the Saints when he guided the franchise to it’s first ever championship winning Super Bowl XLV after a prolific season where he passed for 4,388 yards, 34 touchdowns and eleven interceptions.
In 2010, after his cover, Brees didn’t necessarily have a terrible season although he threw a career high twenty-two interceptions and partially tore his MCL early in the year. He missed no playing time but it was clear he was not himself.
The Saints 11-5 record was good enough to secure a play-off berth as a wild card team. A heavy favorite the Saints were supposed to trounce the Seahawks in the first round but instead were out gunned at Qwest Field and beaten 41 to 36.
There are many more examples of the Madden Curse, not just Brees’ struggles in 2010, and some of the more well known include the seasons of Daunte Culpepper, Michael Vick, Ray Lewis and Shaun Alexander.
Culpepper was on the 2002 cover after a breakout rookie season in 2000. He went on to guide the Vikings to a 4-7 record before injuring his knee and landing on injured reserve for the final five games.
Vick was on the 2004 cover and broke his leg in the preseason missing the first eleven games of the regular season. The Falcons finished the year 5-11.
Lewis intercepted a career high six interceptions in 2003 which has a large part to do with him securing the 2005 Madden NFL cover.
His following 2004 season was a disappointment as he failed to record a single interception, and his team that had secured play-off berths three of the last four seasons, failed to make the post season with a 9-7 record.
Shaun Alexander was named the NFL’s MVP for his 2005 season. He rushed for 1,880 yards, scored 27 touchdowns while averaging five yards per carry. That performance awarded him the 2007 cover.
The following season Alexander broke his foot missing six games, rushed for only 896 yards and scored seven touchdowns while averaging only 3.6 yards per carry. Just like the others his team failed to make the playoffs after doing so the previous year.
So maybe Saint fans shouldn’t get excited about Brees and his second consecutive cover and instead should focus on giving the illustrious honor to Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan or even Packers quarterback Aaron Rogers.