Dear Peyton Hillis,
First off, I would like to extend my most sincere of congratulations to you on becoming the cover boy for EA Sports’ Madden ’12, due out in stores this August. After all, if there’s no NFL season this season due to the continued pissing match between team owners and the players association, then NFL fans will seek to quench their jonesing via their video game.
And being the cover boy of Madden during the year in which football is threatened by unfathomable greed….well, you become something of a savior. It’s achievement enough that you’ve attained your level of fame, hoisted onto a pedestal with fan-bestowed laurels, as well as sashes that read “REALLY FAST WHITE GUY” and “PRIDE OF CLEVELAND”. That last one still has scuff marks from where LeBron James dragged it through the mud, which is sad. Of course, it’s not as sad as when Albert Belle ripped it into a thousand pieces, thinking it was flirting with other men.
Those fans had better get used to continued heartbreak.
Mr. Hillis, if I were you, I would hope that there’s no football in 2011.
Allow me to properly introduce myself. My name is Madden Curse. I was born in early 2001, but am rather verbose and intimidating for my young age. In my lifetime, a toll of no less than ten men has met cruel and untimely fates. All of these men had the same thing in common: they each appeared on the cover of a certain sports video game the year in which they met those fates.
Yes, the very video game which you will adorn this year: Madden NFL.
It started out simply enough. Eddie George, a tough, downhill running back like yourself, graced the cover of Madden 2001 while he was at his career peak on the Tennessee Titans. After appearing in the Super Bowl the previous year, George and the rest of the Titans fumbled their way out of round one of the playoffs the ensuing year. After that, his stats declined more noticeably than Robert De Niro’s ability to pick rewarding scripts.
No one noticed that something was up yet, because one man does not a curse make. But then Daunte Culpepper, a third year phenom quarterback for the Vikings, took a spot on the 2002 cover. He earned that spot by dragging the Vikings to the NFC Championship one year earlier, but then found himself struggling to drag one good game out of himself in his Madden year. 23 picks, a 5-11 record, and a pissed off Randy Moss were all he had to show for himself. But hey, don’t blame me for him developing that stupid double-fisted spool dance. He came up with that himself!
Marshall Faulk in 2003? Knees caved in like the Metrodome roof. Michael Vick in 2004? Tore his ACL in preseason, five days after the game was released. I thought about letting the dog fighting thing come out then, but I figured Michael would just get caught eventually. Besides, being in jail only gives Vick a handful of street cred. But a scrambling quarterback that can’t run? That’s like getting a Porsche for Christmas, except it has no engine.
By this time, some conspiracy minded fools, the basement-dwelling kind that make Jesse Ventura seem lucid, revealed this unfortunate series of untimely afflictions that the Madden models seem to have cursed with.
But I was just getting started.
2005 was Ray Lewis, and he not only busted his wrist, but went the first season of his career without an interception; a career that began in 1996. Coincidence? Madden Curse doesn’t think so.
In 2006, Donovan McNabb thought he had the guts to break this curse. Turns out, his guts were exposed after a helmet shot to the ribs gave him a sports hernia. I don’t know what was worse, the hernia, or Terrell Owens and Drew Rosenhaus’ public circle jerk that became more distracting than an overturned TastyKake truck to Andy Reid.
In 2007, Shaun Alexander, the reigning rushing king, broke his foot; the first serious injury of his career. Man was never the same after that, winding up as a backup to LaDell Betts. Had Alexander gone to jail, he’d have been third string to Maurice Clarett and Lawrence Phillips. He became THAT BAD.
Vince Young in 2008? Statistics that sank like the Lusitania. Brett Favre in 2009? I used “inception” to plant a thought in his head, telling him to photograph his junk and show it to easily-offended women.
In 2010, they tried two players: Troy “Crap, that was my MCL!” Polamalu and Larry “I’m fine, but why are my teammates dropping like flies?” Fitzgerald. Two on one never stopped me.
And so, Peyton, this is your future. Play in 2011, and you might get your leg broke, or you may suffer a head injury, or you may have a nervous breakdown when you remember that Cleveland teams can’t win world titles. I have a litany of ways in which I can ruin your life. I’m the Swiss Army knife of misery.
And if there IS no season, prepare to tear something in a tragic yard work accident. I’m going to watch Maximum Overdrive and take notes, don’t worry.
For every Cleveland fan, or even for every fan that loves gritty white guys that succeed in black-dominant positions (known as having a Welker Complex), when they heard you were the cover boy, they then knew it was over.
It’s over, Peyton Hillis. Enjoy the fame now, because I’ll be seeing you soon.
Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for CamelClutchBlog.com, as well as several wrestling columns a week for WrestlingNewsSource.com and WrestleCrap.com. Justin can be found here on Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/notoriousjrh and Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/cynicjrh.