The Madden Curse for Drew Brees

For the last several years we’ve hooked up our xBox at the tailgate and played the upcoming game on the TV screen before the game is actually played in the stadium.  Every year we look forward to finding out who graces the EA Sports cover of Madden NFL and NCAA football.

In 2010, the Saints brought hope to downtrodden sports franchises everywhere.

But did you hear the news?  For Madden 2011 Drew Brees is on the cover.

Saints fans just remember when the game comes out and you buy your copy, the season is already over.  The Madden Curse lives on in New Orleans this year.

The Curse started with Madden 2000 when EA Sports agreed to a license with the NFL Players Association and decided that it would be a great idea to put Barry Sanders in the background of the standard John Madden photo.  Inexplicably, before he even played a game that season, Sanders retired from football.  He never played again.

Whoa New Orleans . . . a city that already believes in the supernatural… a city that has more voodoo shops per capita than any place in the world… now has to deal with the curses of all curses. The SI Jinx has nothing on what Madden brings.

Check out this partial list:

  • In 2004 Michael Vick landed on the cover of Madden.  One day after the video game hit retail shelves he broke his right fibula in a preseason game.  He didn’t play that year.  Several years later, he landed in jail for dog fighting.
  • In 2008 Vince Young, coming off an all-pro season, missed the first games of his LIFE due to injury.  The first game ever—junior high, high school, college or pro. The next year, the Texas Longhorn standout, ended up on  Coach Jeff Fisher’s bench as well as his suicide watch list.
  • In 2009 Brett Favre graced the cover as a Packer.  He never played another down with Green Bay, as he ended up playing for the Jets.  We know the drama that happened then and still continues through to today.

The city had to see it coming when they set up the online voting in February . . . it wasn’t enough that Brees could win, it’s that EA Sports stacked the deck so heavily in his favor.   Fans could  vote for either Reggie Wayne, Jared Hamilton or Brees.  Really, who else could win?  This was pre-ordained.  If Saints fans would have known about the curse they would have voted for “Other” by the thousands.

But they didn’t.  So Saints fans, enjoy the Super Bowl and the associated glory. There just isn’t any chance of back-to-back Super Bowl action here.  In fact, none of the superstars featured on the cover of EA Sports have ever gone on to win another Super Bowl.  That’s right no one who has ever appeared on the cover has subsequently won the big game again.

You look at the window they climbed through last year and it makes sense that they might have peaked.  Once you’re at the pinnacle there’s truly nowhere else to go but down.

And the fates were pretty gracious to the team.  First, a first round bye after losing the last three games of the year.  Then a lay down game against the Cardinals and a follow-up against the Vikings that they should have lost—save for Brett Farve throwing another season-ending interception.

After the interception in the NFC Championship they choose wisely during the overtime flip of the coin.  So wisely in fact, that the NFL subsequently changed their entire playoff overtime rules.  Only then did a relatively unheard of kicker nail a 40-yard field goal that was put into place by a once in a century pass interference call.  A little good karma to say the least.

During the Super Bowl it took an onside kick and a Manning pick to steal the win.

And know this, I want the Saints to win as much or more than any team.  This isn’t an ominous curse in a “glad this is happening kind of way to an evil franchise” like one might have felt for the Bad Boy Pistons of the early 90’s.  This is much more “uh-oh hate to see bad things happen to a franchise that’s been through so much” like when the ball rolled through Billy Buckner’s legs.

My dad has season tickets and we’ve gone to a Saints game each year for the last decade or so.  There’s greatness at the Superdome, so it’s with great sadness that I acknowledge that bad things are headed the Saints way.   I grew up in Biloxi watching Archie Manning, Chuck Muncie and Wes Chandler.  Saints fans, there’s lots of love here.

For the first time ever though, EA Sports is taking the city under its wing, too.  Check out this logo.

Could the Madden curse really extend to a city though? I’m sorry NOLA, but the answer is YES and it’s already started.

Is it coincidence that bad things have happened so quickly?  Not to Brees per se . . . YET, but the city and region are already taking hits.

The BP Oil Spill is wreaking havoc on New Orleans and the Louisiana coast.  The disaster now trumps the Exxon Valdez as the worst oil spill EVER and its legacy will be felt years from now—if they can even get the problem solved.  I don’t mean to make a light of a terrible tragedy, but the Madden cover announcement and the oil spill happened within hours of each other.

It’s worth considering though and either way we’ve watched 40+ days of an oil spill that’s been like watching another hurricane hit a region that already knows way too much about hurricanes.

Then approximately 10 days after the Madden cover announcement, Geoffery Santini, a former Saints Security Director filed a lawsuit against head coach Sean Payton.  The suit alleges that the Saints tried to cover-up Payton’s theft of Vicodin and other pain killers from the Saints medical offices.  Mr. Santini issued notice that he would file the lawsuit in September of last year, but it took a Madden cover to get the ball and the legal proceedings rolling.

I’m just saying . . . that’s two national level and noteworthy news events and we’re just turning the corner into June.

New Orleans is a great town. Bourbon Street is one of the best tailgate locations in the world and Drew Brees is a great quarterback and leader of the city.  However, now that Brees is on the cover of Madden 2011 he AND the city of New Orleans should be on the lookout.

The game will hit store shelves on August 10, 2010.

You can read other posts by Foster “Jim” Flint by clicking here.

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