The fate of New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne and Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen is in the hands of the people. According to ESPN.com, the three NFL players are in the running to appear on the Madden NFL 2011 cover.
Gracing the cover has been considered a curse by many. So who will have continued success, and who will have a doomed career? For the first time, the answer will be determined by a vote. Voting began Feb. 4 and will continue through March 15.
“The idea behind this promotion is that throughout the years, no matter who we end up putting on the cover, it’s never the right choice,” Chris Erb, senior director of partnership marketing for EA Sports, told ESPN.com. “So the idea here is to bring the consumers into the process and have a voice.”
Whether the Madden cover is a curse or just bad player selection, some Madden cover athletes have had poor seasons following their appearance. The list includes Marshall Faulk, Brett Favre, Daunte Culpepper and Vince Young. All of them played notably worse following their Madden debut.
If there was any doubt that the Madden cover appearance was a bad omen, former Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, former Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander and Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu drove the idea home. Vick broke his leg in a 2003 preseason game following his Madden appearance. Alexander suffered a serious foot injury in 2006 and declined as a player after being a Madden cover star. And Troy Polamalu injured his knee in the first game of the 2009 season after sharing the spotlight on the Madden cover last year.
The silver lining for the 2011 contenders is that there is an exception to every rule. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who was also featured last year with Polamalu, had a great season in 2009.
But not everyone believes there is a Madden curse.
“People forget that 50 percent or 60 percent of the guys get hurt every year,” Alexander said in USA Today. “I tell everybody the same thing like I told Tom Brady and LaDainian Tomlinson. After I won the MVP and got on the cover and LaDainian came out the next year and had a great season and said, ‘I’m not going to get on the cover. I don’t want to get hurt.’ What’s he do? He gets hurt. Tom Brady comes out the next year after LaDainian and is MVP, doesn’t want to be on the cover and what’s he do the first game? He gets hurt. Football is a physical sport and people get hurt. When you are on top of your game, you are going to win awards and be on the cover of video games and people are going to gun for you. If they get a big hit on you, that’s just the intensity of the game.”
Allen, Brees or Wayne? You make the call. Fans can pick their favorite player or strategically choose their least favorite candidate, depending on their beliefs in superstition.
“It will be very interesting to see if people want their team on the cover or if they vote for other people to not have their team on the cover,” Erb told USA Today. “I think the voting could go both ways.”
Fans can vote daily and will be entered for a chance to win prizes, including a trip to the 2010 NFL draft or the Madden NFL 11 cover unveiling.