Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis has had one of the most bizarre seasons in recent memory. From sitting out a game due to strep throat to messy contract negotiations to a nagging hamstring injury that kept him out for five straight games, this has been a season to forget for Hillis.
But could it all really stem from the dreaded Madden curse?
At the beginning of the season, it was certainly something to scoff at. There was no way it would happen to the “Madden NFL 12″ cover boy – the big, bruising back would surely build on his 2010 campaign, in which he rushed for 1,177 yards with 11 touchdowns, adding 477 receiving yards and two extra touchdowns.
But after the season he had, did Hillis starting buying into the curse? Apparently so.
“No doubt about it,” Hillis finally admitted Thursday. “Things haven’t worked to my favor this year. There’s a few things that happened that made me believe in curses. Ain’t no doubt about it.”
With the way his season has gone, it’s hard not to feel the same way. He’s been a victim of nearly every on- and off-field distraction (save for anything illegal, thankfully) there is and has essentially been an afterthought in a disappointing season for the Browns.
But the difference for Hillis is that he’s had the opportunity to redeem himself and has taken advantage of it. His 112 rushing yards against the Baltimore Ravens last week was a season-high, and he’s been running with authority ever since he returned from that hamstring injury.
With the way he’s closed out this season, it seems to be a much easier decision for the front office as to whether Hillis should be re-signed.
But that certainly doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. Head coach Pat Shurmur declined to say if the Browns intend on bringing Hillis back for next season, though that’s not a surprising comment. Like so many decisions with this team, it’s going to require a long, hard look in the offseason.
Even though Hillis eventually bought into the Madden curse, combined with everything he went through this season, he still wants to be a member of this team. Therefore, not being re-signed could be the biggest fallout of all from the Madden curse. For Hillis’ – and the Browns’ – sake, it would be best to avoid that.