The Madden Curse—Don’t Vote for Peyton Hillis

Cleveland may have a new curse to worry about.

Browns running back Peyton Hillis appeared on ESPN with Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to discuss the NFL lockout situation, and the cover of EA Sports® video game phenomenon, Madden NFL 2012.

An online ESPN vote will determine which one representative per NFL team will be featured on the game’s cover this year. I haven’t included the link because I don’t want any of you to vote for Hillis.

For years, players and teams featured on the cover of the Madden game have suffered through injury plagued, scandal-ridden seasons of disappointment. Fans and players alike have come to call it the Madden Curse, for obvious reasons.

So don’t vote for Peyton. There’s no way he could overcome being on the cover of Madden AND playing for a Cleveland team. This curse is a sure thing, and to prove it, here’s a recap of what’s happened to the previous players who’ve made the cover…

Garrison Hearst, 1998
The Madden Curse enters the world with a bang. Hearst has a Pro Bowl season the year he’s on the cover, leading the Raiders to a 12-4 record and a playoff berth. But, he breaks his ankle so bad in their playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons that he’s forced to miss the next two full seasons. Ouch.

Barry Sanders, 1999
Sanders gets the Madden cover after finishing off his tenth consecutive Pro Bowl season. Wow. Then, he suddenly retires prior to the start of his cover-year and never plays again. Think he knew something?

Eddie George, 2000
The curse comes in all forms. George has a fantastic season while he’s on the cover, rushing for over 1,500 yards and 14 scores. But he carries the ball a ridiculous 403 times, plus another 50 catches. It winds up killing him. He never averages over 3.4 yards per carry in four seasons after, and now nobody leans on their running backs like that anymore.

As much as Browns fans might think Eric Mangini over used Peyton Hillis last year, by comparison, he carried the ball 270 times plus 61 catches = 121 less touches than George in 2000.

Daunte Culpepper, 2001
In his year on the cover, Culpepper misses four games to a knee injury, and sees his TD pass total drop from 33 to 14. The Vikings also fall from 11-5, to 5-11, and head coach Dennis Green is fired before the end of the season. Daunte has a nice rebound period from 2002-2004, but another major knee injury in 2005 pretty much stops the clock right there.

Marshall Faulk, 2002
Marshall still makes the Pro Bowl in his Madden cover-year, but the curse survives still. Faulk drops from 30 total TDs to 10, and the Rams finish with a losing record after three straight playoff appearances and two Super Bowl runs. His rushing yardage also drops from 1,382, to 953. He never rushes for over 1,000 yards in any of his three injury marred seasons after that.

Michael Vick, 2003
My choice for the “Most Impressive Curse Award.” In Vick’s first year as a starter he sets the league on fire, makes it to the Pro Bowl, and becomes the first player ever to defeat Brett Favre in the playoffs at Lambeau Field. He gets the Madden cover the next year and breaks his leg in a preseason game litterally the same day the game hits stores. He’s only able to start four games and the Flacons miss the playoffs.

Two seasons of declining play later and he’s in freaking jail for operating an illegal dog fighting ring in his backyard. He misses two more full seasons, but returns to Pro Bowl form with the Eagles in 2010.

Ray Lewis, 2004
The perennial All Pro and Browns torturer has had a hall of fame career, before and after his cover-year, and there’s nothing we can do about it. He does break his wrist while he’s on the Madden cover, but somehow only misses one game, and is still named a first team All Pro.

He misses 11 games the following year, but that doesn’t count, he’s clearly above curses, and the law too if you know what I mean.

Donovan McNabb, 2005
McNabb gets the cover after making it to (but not winning) the Super Bowl with star receiver Terrell Owens. During his Madden cover-year, he misses seven games to sports hernia surgery while TO goes into locker-room-cancer mode to help destroy the season. The Eagles finish 6-10. McNabb made the Pro Bowl five of six years before he was on the cover. Since then, he’s been there once in six years.

2006, Shaun Alexander
Wait, the only team that doesn’t learn from Eddie George Dead Leg Syndrome is Mike Holmgren’s 2005 Seattle Seahawks? Come’on Man.

Alexander wins the 2005 MVP Award carrying the ball 370 times in Holmgren’s West Coast Offense and is never the same. He gets the Madden cover and breaks his foot three weeks into the season. Two years later, and just two years into an eight-year $61-million contract with Seattle, he’s released.

Vince Young, 2007
Young graces the cover of Madden after a scintillating rookie year that sees him rip off 6 straight wins after starting the season on the bench. Vince misses a game to injury and his stats do suffer while he’s on the cover, but he still leads the Titans to the playoffs. You could even say they catch a lucky break…

In 2007, the Titans and Browns finished the season with identical 10-6 records, but the Titans kept the Browns out the playoffs because they had a better record against the AFC. They won that tiebreaker by defeating a Colts team who was resting their starters on the last day of the season (PS – If I ever meet Jim Sorgi, I will fight him). The curse of Cleveland supersedes all I guess.

After this however, Young struggles with injuries and maturity issues, is yanked in and out as starter, and is currently set to be released or traded by the Titans.

Brett Favre, 2008
Lord Favre gets the Madden cover after the Packers finally say enough is enough, and trade him to the New York Jets. The Jets start strong at 8-3, but Favre injures his arm and sinks the team down the stretch. They lose four of their final five games and miss the playoffs. The Jets then release Brett and fire coach Eric Mangini, but the curse doesn’t stop there.

Brett’s final downfall will eventually be traced back to his inappropriate cell phone seduction of Jenn Sterger, whom he met while with the Jets, and yes, while on the cover of Madden.

Larry Fitzgerald / Troy Polamalu, 2009
Following one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever, EA Sports decides to put two players from that game on the Madden cover for the upcoming season. Fitzgerald follows his tremendous Super Bowl run with a very good season, and the Cardinals even make the playoffs again.

Troy is not so lucky. He suffers a knee injury in the season openner and is only able to play in five games. The Steelers miss the playoffs and lose to the Browns for the first time in five years.

Drew Brees, 2010
The only player other than Troy Polamalu to get the cover after actually winning the championship – maybe the Madden Curse coincidentally rides alongside that other curse infecting teams that lose the Super Bowl?

Either way, Drew stats drop only slightly, despite one embarrassing loss to the Browns in Colt McCoy’s first start. Brees avoids injury and his Saints make the playoffs, but do manage to fall to the Seahawks, the only team ever to make the playoffs with a losing record.

So, what do you think?

If Peyton Hillis does make it, he’ll be the first player who did so without making the Pro Bowl the previous season.

Would you risk Peyton’s 2011-2012 season in return for him being the first Brown ever featured on the Madden cover?

Next Browns Game View full schedule »
Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug8:00St. Louis RamsBuy Tickets

Tags: Peyton Hillis

  • ltmurray23

    um bro, I hate to bust your bubble but how the hell do you think this guy has any possible chance to ever make the cover of Madden? Why would they even consider putting someone from Cleveland on the cover. Only hardcore fans even know who Hillis is. I was waiting for you to say somewhere in your article that this probably wasnt possible. I don’t get how this was even a discussion.

  • Brady

    Ltmurray, I’m aware that Hillis is a terrific back, and i’m a Steelers fan! That’s gotta be something considering the Steelers and Browns history, right?:P

    • TallyDawg

      ltmurray is just upset: obviously he is a Broncos fan who is still upset of the Hillis + picks for Quinn trade. :-)

      GO BROWNS!!!

  • Jimmy Weinland

    OK, OK, here is the ESPN link to vote. It’s set up like an NCAA bracket:

    Hillis is 10 seed facing the Ravens 7 seed Ray Rice. He should be at least a 5 seed.

    I can see him getting by Rice, and then the 2 seed Matt Ryan who had a bad playoff game. Maybe.

    Ndamukong Suh got jobbed as a 16 seed against Aaron Rodgers. I think Rodgers is the favorite since Danny Woodhead is Patriots rep at the 4 seed instead of Tom Brady.

    I think Hillis loses to Rodgers in the Final Four.

  • Clayton

    Um, bro, Murray, bro, dude, fella – where u from? Miami?

  • Jimmy Weinland
  • ltmurray23

    It will be 10 years before any Browns member is on the cover of Madden. it has been the most poorly run franchise since their original team moved and has become a yearly contender. Maybe the Lions have been a little worse but they have some star players at least. Hillis had a great year but you think he’s gonna get more votes then ray rice in whatever matchup your talking about? don’t think so guys. Clevelands best player is their center, who they traded down to get. who trades down when you need big time players. who gets basically nothing in return for their best receiver? Who drafts a star tight end who misses two first full season then realizes potential, then lets him walk, who drafted tim couch and courtney brown number one overall in back to back years followed by gerrard warren at #3? CLEVeland!!! I like Haden, Hillis, Joe thomas, and mack. mccoy is not going to be a good qb. id rather start seneca wallace quite honestly. Maybe if your town’s biggest celeb, Drew Carey introduces them again this year they will make the playoffs. Drew Carey? really? that was the best they could do when they gave that city another team? Can holmgren turn them around? I hope so. For the hope of ever having a brown s player on the cover’s sake

  • JM


    10 years eh? Who invited Cleo to this site? Who loves Google? I do.
    “The Thunder need some butter because they are on a roll heading into the playoffs. I’m betting they make the finals this year. Thunder fans unite. If you take anything from this post, let it be this; Never bet on white.” Great take….not. Lovely longwinded article about a who-cares game. Who is this poser-racist mother fuck3r? 7 articles: 10 comments. Half of which are from, guess who… himself. Clearly, people care what he has to say. Uber weak.

    Holy Sh!t!!! Check this out… How spot-on was my poser call? He’s a Grizzly fan too?! Wow… As Golem once said….Go away and never come back! I hope his sky diving skills are just as good as his writing abilities. Epic fail my friend. Seriously, as a great poser once wrote “if you take anything from this post, let it be this”, if you are going to write- make sure you actually have something to say.

    If he is this much of a poser, can you imagine how racist he is too?

  • ltmurray23

    It’s called humor bro. Not lame ass ridiculous posts like this. For you to think your team is anywhere close to relevant is a joke.

    A poser? your obviously a f#ckin clown bro. WHat does my post have to do with being a poser? why are you so offended i went in on your franchise? I didn’t say anything about your boring writing other then the fact this article is completely irrelevant. don’t take things so serious because it’s obvious from your writing your not the kind of guy to back it up in person. stay in cleveland, the most pathetic city on earth.

    make sure you keep reading my racist, poser posts bro. and dont use the word uber when im involved. its pretty gay bro. sorry to offend you but your article is the least relevant thing ive ever read.

    Your devoted fan,

  • JM

    Wow…. you reek of ignorance. You are dripping in it. Save us all the trouble and end yourself.

    Your humor? Forgive me, I must have missed it. Did your comments here include an attempt at humor? Please cite examples? Fail. Also note, this might help your confusion- I had only actually read your most recent article from the Oklahoma City site… scratch that- I did have to skim it so I wouldn’t fall asleep. Fail. I didn’t actually read any of your other ‘fan’ articles from the Grizzlies site. I was afraid of how dirty I might feel from reading them after knowing you also love the Thunder. Does your mother know?! On second thought, that is pretty funny- to claim to be a such big fan of 2 teams in the NBA, both teams in the West no less (poser example A).

    Where exactly did I claim “the Browns are anywhere close to relevant”? Fail. But that’s ok- lets expand: that the Browns are anywhere close to relavant… I will take the easy route by simply comparing the Browns to the NFL team in your city…. Memphis?: fail, or do you live in Oklahoma City… oops, not one there either?- fail. Or, do you actually live somewhere else and claim to be a fan there as well?

    My boring writing? Huh? Your utter dumbness is making it difficult to communicate. When exactly did I write any articles? Please let me know so I can claim all royalties. Fail. Actually, I’d rather just read them. Some I like, some not so much. Yours seem to fall into the latter category, but that’s for another day. But when morons from other cities come in and post their shortsighted thoughts (poser example B), sometimes I’ll take a minute out of my day to call them out on it. What you don’t realize is Cleveland is the hungriest city in America for a title. Period. You simply don’t understand. You cant, and that’s ok. I’m good with that. But theres something that tells me you are the same kid who shows up at a party where you weren’t invited, and nobody knows you, but you go around acting like its all kosher, drinking too much beer, none of which you purchased and calling everyone ‘Bro’? Hit the nail on the head? Maybe you’ve never been invited to a party and have no ‘real’ friends but think you’ve got hundreds (based on your daily Facebook count)? You’re that guy. Hey, Look at that?! Now I’m Cleo! Moving on… See, if Browns fans think that Hillis being on the cover of a video game gains Cleveland some notoriety, something you so eloquently pointed out is lacking (Notice the tone and how I am talking to you like a child?), they will sit on their computer and vote for him all day long. Ultimately, potentially, resulting in just another hurdle the city needs to overcome for what we all want so much. But that’s not something you can conceive. Again, that’s ok. Do you really think you know our market so well there is no chance that can happen? Don’t be so naïve. Do yourself a favor and do some research. Put together some decent data and maybe you will have a nice little thesis for a real article. Good luck with that.

    I was going to overlook this, figured I covered it the first paragraph, but I just cant seem to let it go… Are you really calling me out? That I “won’t back it up in person”? On the internet? Really??? Pot… Kettle… Black…

    Almost forgot… uber.

  • ltmurray23

    I write for both teams because the websites hired me. I am a fan of the game and would enjoy writing about pretty much any team. I am from Seattle and now live in San Diego. I don’t drink and if I did I don’t think i’d be going to parties without knowing anyone. “cleveland is the hungriest city in America for a title.” More like most desperate. The Brown are cursed. The Cavs lost the greatest thing to ever come out of that sh!thole of state, and even the Indians are a joke these days. I miss the days of Albert Belle and Carlos Baerga. I really used to like those teams and I liked watching the Cavs. Now they are all arguably the least watchable teams in their respective sports. You city will not get peyton Hillis on the cover bud. I like and respect the guy but they usually put guys on winning teams on the covers of video games. Maybe I’m just bitter I drafted Jerome Harrison in my fantasy league. I don’t need to do research, everybody already knows. Anyone I know from Ohio admits that it sucks. Drew carey is your biggest star. him and lil Bow wow, whom i’m sure you roll around in your cellica bumping all day. I don’t f^ck with C%ckboys like you. I’m 6 2 230 and would probably eat your trick as$ alive. Your city sucks, your writing sucks, i’m sure your girl is weak if you have ever had one, and your responses are so annoyingly bad i had to chime in one last time but this will be the last year hear from me my friend. I probably won’t be needing to read anything about the Browns for oh I don’t know, at least 4 years. Thanks for taking the time to write a 1000 word essay about me though. Keep visiting the thunder site. it gets me exposure. actually i’ll check back here if I here hillis gets anywhere close to getting voted on Madden cover. Have a good one and enjoy another “hungry” season because you guys are gonna be starving for a long time.

  • Clayton

    Surfs up Murray. Go Chargers (oh sorry – the bolts still [playin?).

  • JM

    Burn, he sure got me good! I am really going to miss our great talks Murray. Godspeed.

  • Jimmy Weinland

    What do you know. Mr. Hillis has indeed defeated Ray Rice in fan voting, and has moved on to the 2nd round.

    See it here:

  • JM
  • John

    I’m voting for Hillis just because I think it’d be hilarious if he lands on the cover of Madden. Besides, I bought Madden 11 and am not planning on buying 12 — might as well see a total random player on the cover!

  • sriman2011
  • awahani