Since 1998, when Garrison Hearst became the first person besides John Madden himself to appear on the cover of EA’s monster franchise, eleven NFL players have graced the series’ box. And, as we’ll see in a minute, yes, bad things happened to some of them. But you know what? Bad things happen to a lot of people in the NFL. We’ll see that in a minute, too.

“Look, some of the things that happen to guys on the cover, they’re legitimate”, says EA Sports’ Chris Erb, who I had a chat with to discuss the curse. “Vinnie Young, for example. We put him on the cover [last year], he missed a game, and he’d never missed a game in his life.” The same is true, he says, of Madden 06 star Donovan McNabb. “He’d never had surgery in his life, ever, but the year he was on the cover, he went under the knife. So these kind of things get into people’s minds”.
“But none of us truly believe in it” Erb is quick to add. “The media tends to play this sort of thing up, but…I mean, the chances of a player being injured in the NFL are so high that we laugh it all off, because it’s unfounded”. So the curse doesn’t put players off appearing on the cover, then?

“No way. We’ve spoken to plenty of guys from within the league, and they don’t think it’s a jinx. The players, who we work closely with, they definitely don’t think it’s a jinx, because they know better than anyone how easy it is to get injured, or to have a bad season.”

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