Fans to choose next Madden Curse victim

If I were Jared Allen, Drew Brees, or Reggie Wayne, I’d run screaming from Doritos and EA Sports. Whether you believe in the Madden Curse or not, the fact remains that just about every player that’s appeared on the cover of one of EA Sports’ Madden games has suffered a serious injury or seen his once-dominant playing ability severely decline.

So for Madden NFL 11, Doritos and EA have teamed up to let football fans “log on to to vote daily for one of three nominees for the Madden NFL 11 cover.” The nominees, of course, being Jared Allen, Drew Brees, and Reggie Wayne.

Here’s a brief rundown of past victims of the Madden Curse. Madden titles are a year ahead, so Madden NFL 10, for instance, came out right before the 2009 NFL season started.

Madden NFL 10: Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald. This marked the first time two athletes had appeared on the cover together. Polamalu sprained his MCL in the first game of the season, missed four games, returned for three more, and then injured his PCL to knock him out for the rest of the season. Fitzgerald, on the other hand, had a pretty good year. So maybe the only way to break the curse is to have two people on the cover. Even then, though, there’s still a 50-50 chance of being cursed.

Madden NFL 09: Brett Favre. Seeing as though Favre is the Chuck Norris of professional football, it looked like the curse had finally been broken. However, Favre fell apart in the second half of the season after suffering an injury to his throwing arm.

Madden NFL 08: Vince Young. Pretty good 2007 season, but injured his knee in the first game of the 2008 season. Then he ran away from home. As a grown-up. Then he didn’t play again until mid-way through the 2009 season.

Madden NFL 07: Shaun Alexander. Missed much of the 2006 season after breaking his foot, then broke his wrist during the first game of the 2007 season, sprained his knee and ankle in Week 9, was cut from the Seahawks in April 2008. Remained unsigned until October 2008, was picked up by the Redskins, who cut him a month later. He hasn’t played since.

Madden NFL 06: Donovan McNabb. Knocked out halfway through the season with a herniated disc in his back, the Eagles finish in last place and miss the playoffs for the first time in years.

Madden NFL 2005: Ray Lewis. Also like the Chuck Norris of football, Lewis did an admirable job of keeping the Madden Curse at bay. He had a relatively uninspiring 2004 season, but that’s about it. No major injuries or anything like that.

Madden NFL 2004: Michael Vick. Broke his leg, missed the first 3/4 of the season. Then all that dog-related stuff happened. Not that the dogs had anything to do with Madden.

Madden NFL 2003: Marshall Faulk. Recorded his worst season since 1996.

Madden NFL 2002: Daunte Culpepper. Minnesota finishes 5-11, Culpepper misses four games, worst Vikings record since 1984.

Madden NFL 2001: Eddie George. No injuries and a pretty good 2000 season. In 2001, though, Tennessee finished 7-9 and George didn’t break 1000 yards rushing.

Madden NFL 2000: Barry Sanders. Only kinda, sorta appeared on the cover. Whatever the case, he unexpectedly retired before the season even started.

Madden NFL 99: Garrison Hearst. Only appeared on certain covers, broke his ankle in a playoff game so severely that he missed two seasons.

So looking back on the 10+ years of Madden cover athletes, it seems that a few have dodged major bullets but most have experienced a mysterious dark cloud overhead. And judging by the three finalists for this Doritos thing, I’d venture a guess that Drew Brees may get the nod, especially if his team wins the Super Bowl on Sunday.

At any rate, I’d politely decline if I were Allen, Brees, or Wayne. And if that didn’t work, I’d decline with shouting and arm flailing. Voting ends March 15th.

Doritos Presents: Change the Game [Voting Site]