Prior to 2000, all of the Madden NFL game box covers prominently featured John Madden only. When EA started to have NFL players on the cover of the Madden NFL games, some later (half-jokingly) speculated that there was a "Madden curse", a coincidental series of misfortunes that befell the product's cover-athletes.
In the 2002 edition of the game, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper appeared on the cover, and suffered an injury plagued year. People started noticing a pattern with St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk, who appeared on the 2003 edition cover of Madden, witnessed a sharp statistical decline the following year. The next year, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was injured during the 2003 preseason after posing for the cover of Madden 2004. Vick suffered a broken fibula the day after Madden 2004 was released to retailers. The injury resulted in a 5-11 year for Vick's team. Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis broke his wrist and failed to record a single interception the season after he appeared on the cover of Madden 2005. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb suffered two injuries during the 2005 NFL season, and the Eagles finished in last place after he posed on the cover of Madden 2006. Then Shaun Alexander suffered a broken foot and was out for more than three weeks after being on the cover of Madden 2007.
EA officials point out that retired halfback Eddie George appeared on the cover of the 2001 version, and had a successful season without injury. Although he had the best year of his career, rushing for 1,509 yards, catching 50 passes for 453 yards and scoring 16 total touchdowns, he bobbled a pass in the playoffs that was then intercepted, ironically, by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, a future cover athlete, who returned the ball for a touchdown. George was never quite the same runningback after that point. George, (up until then) known for his durability, would also get injured the following season. After regularly averaging nearly 4 yards per carry in his first five seasons and rushing for over 1,300 yards in each one, he averaged only 3 yards per carry and rushed for career lows of 939 yards and 5 touchdowns in the 2001 season. For the rest of his career, he never averaged more than 3.5 yards per carry, but did rush for over 1,000 yards twice and scored 14 touchdowns in 2002. Seattle Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander is now also on the cover and had an injury. Alexander's 2006 season was about average until week three, when he fractured a bone in his left foot. On October 16, 2006, head coach Mike Holmgren said that Alexander would be out for at least two more weeks.
[size=14][b]Letters from the procupine, they'll stick straight through you.
So read one anytime you think you've made mistakes.[/b][/size]