Originated in 2001 when EA
started putting cover shots of famous football stars on the cover of Madden NFL videogames.
Every player to be on the cover since then has had a season ending injury and/or a losing streak. Examples:
Madden 2001 cover: Eddie George, Titans RB
Before cover: The Titans reached the Super Bowl the prior season and George had gone to three consecutive Pro Bowls.
After cover: George made the Pro Bowl in 2000, but averaged 3.2 yards per carry in 2001 and 2002 and the Titans haven't been back to the Super Bowl.
Madden 2002 cover: Daunte Culpepper, Vikings QB
Before cover: Culpepper threw 33 TD passes and led team to the NFC championship game.
After cover: Culpepper missed five games in 2001 with a knee injury, threw a league-high 23 interceptions in 2002; the Vikings have gone 11-21 since 2000.
Madden 2003 cover: Marshall Faulk, Rams RB
Before cover: Faulk had become the first player in NFL history to gain 2,000 yards from scrimmage in four consecutive seasons; the Rams had been to three straight postseasons.
After cover: Plagued by an ankle injury, Faulk started a career-low 10 games as the Rams missed the playoffs.
Madden 2004 cover: Michael Vick, Falcons QB
Before cover: He was on a roll coming into the year, having set four NFL records in the 2002 season and established a reputation as one of the games' most electrifying players.
After cover: Early in the 2003 pre-season, Vick broke his leg in the first quarter of a game against the Baltimore Ravens. He was out for the first 11 games of the season.
Prior to 2001, John Madden was on the cover of Madden NFL games. John Madden is the only man in history to withstand the power of the Madden Curse.