'Megatron' Calvin Johnson Wins Madden NFL 2013 Cover Vote: 10 Victims Of The 'Madden Curse' [PHOTOS]

on April 25 2012 9:12 PM
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Calvin Johnson (2013)
    Calvin Johnson was voted by fans to be on the next Madden cover in 2012. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Garrison Hearst (1999)
    In the very first year that EA decided to use athletes instead of John Madden for the annual cover of Madden NFL, 49ers' running back Garrison Hearst appeared only on the PAL cover of Madden NFL '99, but that was enough. The next year, he broke his ankle and was out the following two seasons. He never performed the same again. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Barry Sanders (2000)
    Barry Sanders -- pictured in the top right above John Madden's head -- appeared on the 2000 cover, but shortly thereafter, the famed running back abruptly retired before training camp that season. He came up just shy of the most rushing yards ever recorded over an entire career. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Eddie George (2001)
    Tennessee Titans RB Eddie George was happy to grace the 2001 cover of Madden NFL, but that next season, the Titans lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs in dramatic fashion. George had a chance to catch the game-tying ball with the Titans down 17-10 late in the 4th quarter, but he bobbled a pass thrown by Steve McNair. The ball was picked out of the air by future Hall of Fame linebacker Ray Lewis, and run in for a touchdown. George never had a season where he averaged more than 4 yards per carry for the rest of his career. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Duante Culpepper (2002)
    Daunte Culpepper was hot in the early decade: He got his Minnesota Vikings into the playoffs in 2000, but after appearing on the Madden NFL 2002 cover, he went ice cold: He broke the record for most fumbles in a single season, individually threw 23 interceptions, and his team sank to a 5-11 record. He made a semi-comeback in 2004, but he blew out his knees in consecutive years, and hasn't played the same since. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Marshall Faulk (2003)
    After Marshall Faulk's appearance on Madden NFL in 2003, he and his St. Louis Rams experienced an incredible fall from grace. Faulk never again recorded another 1,000 yard rushing season, and he never again averaged more than 5 yards per game. He missed 11 games due to knee injuries that year, and in 2005, he finally underwent reconstructive knee surgery. He retired that same year. The Rams have never recovered either, registering a total record of 15 wins and 65 losses since the 2007 season. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Michael Vick (2004)
    Michael Vick was on top of the world in 2004, becoming one of the league's most diverse quarterbacks after being drafted from Virginia Tech. But after appearing on the Madden NFL 2004 cover, Vick broke his fibula in a meaningless preseason game, and his Atlanta Falcons fell to 5-11. Years later, he was sent for prison for his alleged participation in an illegal dogfighting ring. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Ray Lewis (2005)
    Even though Ray Lewis has experienced much success since his 2005 cover for Madden, the season after he shot the cover, Lewis suffered a wrist injury in Week 15. That season was also his first without an interception. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Donovan McNabb (2006)
    One of the best Eagles quarterbacks of all-time, Donovan McNabb shot the cover of Madden NFL 2006 after he led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl appearance. But after the shoot, McNabb tore his ACL and meniscus in his right knee during a game against the Tennessee Titans, which ended his season. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Shaun Alexander (2007)
    Reigning NFL MVP Shaun Alexander thought he had it all when he made the cover of Madden NFL 2007, but boy was he wrong. That season, he suffered a foot injury that caused him to miss six starts, which substantially hurt his statistics. He never had a season as good as the one before the Madden shoot: He later asked himself, "Do you want to be hurt on the cover, or just hurt?" Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Vince Young (2008)
    Tennessee Titans starting QB Vince Young, after appearing on the Madden 2008 cover, he told Jimmy Kimmel on his talk show, "I've done prayed about it and we're gonna go home and try to get to the playoffs and try to get to the Super Bowl. We'll see what happens." In reality, Young suffered long-term injuries in 2006, and after many emotional disputes between he and his coaches and family, he was eventually released before the 2011 season began. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Brett Favre (2009)
    EA didn't think Favre would come back from retirement, so in his honor, they gave the old gunslinger the cover in his classic uniform. To EA's dismay, Favre decided to return the game, and was traded to the New York Jets upon his announcement. That season, he had a poor on-field performance and was also implicated in a sexual harassment scandal with one of his trainers. He also suffered injuries to his ankle and shoulder, the latter injury becoming a big factor in his decision to end his career. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald (2010)
    EA tried something different for Madden 2010: Two athletes couldn't be jinxed, could they? EA was half right. After the Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald and the Steelers' Troy Polamalu appeared on the cover together, only Polamalu suffered the slings of the Madden Curse. He sprained his MCL in the first half of the first game of the season, and when he returned four games later, he later injured his posterior cruciate ligament, missing even more game time. Fitzgerald came out unscathed, playing in all 16 regular season games and even two playoff games. Courtesy
  • Madden NFL Cover Curse - Calvin Johnson (2013)
    Calvin Johnson was voted by fans to be on the next Madden cover for "Madden NFL 2013." Will Johnson continue the longstanding tradition of the Madden Curse, or will he come out of this season unscathed? Courtesy
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The Detroit Lions' coveted 6-foot-5 wide receiver -- No. 81 Calvin Johnson, a.k.a. Megatron -- will grace the cover of Madden NFL 13, which is currently slated to release on Aug. 28, 2012. Johnson beat out Cam Newton, the second-year Carolina Panthers quarterback, in a fan vote that culminated with an announcement on Wednesday's episode of ESPN's SportsNation program. Johnson won with 52 percent of the fan vote.

Johnson is coming off an incredible season. In 2011, Megatron caught 96 passes for 1,681 yards (a league-best) and 16 touchdowns. From a historical perspective, Johnson became the third player in NFL history to record at least 95 catches, 1,600 yards and 15 touchdowns in a single season, joining Hall of Famer Jerry Rice and future HOFer Randy Moss.

In March, the No. 2 overall pick out of Georgia Tech signed an eight-year deal worth up to $132 million. It's well deserved: Johnson's incredible plays have helped turn around the Lions from a beyond-dismal 0-16 record in 2007 to a 10-6 record in 2011, including a playoff berth -- the team's first in 12 years.

Madden NFL 13's runner-up, former Heisman Trophy winner and AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Cam Newton, had an impressive rookie year, despite the lockout marring preseason team workouts. The No. 1 overall pick in last year's NFL draft set a record for most rushing touchdowns in a single season by a quarterback (14). He also became the first player in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for another 500 yards in the same season -- rookie or otherwise.

While it's an honor for Megatron be chosen for the cover of the annual Madden NFL game, it's impossible to ignore The Madden Curse.

I don't worry about it, Johnson said of the curse. All things come to an end.

Since 1999, when publisher Electronic Arts decided to use a professional athlete on the annual Madden NFL cover instead of John Madden himself, most of the chosen players went on to have unusually poor seasons -- sometimes careers -- often due to injury.  

I don't know that we believe in the curse, said Chris Erb, EA Sports' director of marketing, back in 2008. The players don't believe in the curse. We've had a run of bad luck the last couple of years. But as Shaun (Alexander) said, 'Do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt.'

The famed Madden Curse has claimed many players' careers, at least temporarily: The list includes Barry Sanders, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk, Donovan McNabb, Shaun Alexander, and even the gunslinger himself, Brett Favre. Check out the slideshow above to learn a little more about how the Madden Curse affected these great players' careers.

The most recent victim of the Madden Curse is last year's honoree, Peyton Hillis (formerly) of the Cleveland Browns. Even though the running back said he wasn't afraid of the Madden jinx, the man who ran for 1,177 yards in 2010 missed six games the following year and only ran for a measly 587 yards. 

Do you believe in the Madden Curse? Will it happen again to Megatron? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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