June 7, 2014

F@*k the Madden Curse

The first 6+ months of 2014 have been the most successful stretch in Seahawks history. The playoff run and victory in Super Bowl XLVIII was followed by an offseason that has seen the franchise achieve nearly all of their short-and-long term goals. Core talents like Michael Bennett and Doug Baldwin agreed to cap-friendly new contracts, and new deals for the Ring of Honor/Canton-bound pair of Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman put them on the path to becoming career Seahawks. With those deals done, PCJS should have no trouble locking Russell Wilson into his own gargantuan long-term contract a year from now. The future of the Emerald Empire couldn't possibly be brighter, and this new reality was highlighted by Richard Sherman's victory in the final Madden "Cover Vote."

Winning the cover spot on the latest Madden game is the 21st Century version of getting your face on the Wheaties box. It's a tremendous honor for Sherman himself, and it's another reminder that the Seattle Seahawks are at the top of the NFL food chain. This is what happens to Champions. They get to go to the White House. Their quarterback does Microsoft ads that run during SportsCenter. The Best Corner In The Game gets the Madden cover. Twelves should be breaking out into elaborate Bollywood dance numbers in celebration, right?

Nope. I've talked to numerous Twelves who are filled with dread about Sherman being on the Madden cover, because they believe in the "Madden Curse."

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a spiritual person. I'm an atheist, and superstition annoys me to no end. I try to have a rational, scientific mindset about life. I'm a Scully, not a Mulder. I'm a Mythbuster, not a Ghost Hunter. I rail against climate change deniers, Anti-Vaxxers, and related dumbfuckery, but few things irritate me more than people who believe in the Madden Curse. It's not just because ALL "curses" are bullshit (they are), it's also because people seem to LOVE this particular curse. Adherents to the Madden Curse can take any negative thing that happened to a player on the cover and twist it into evidence to support this bullplop hokum that they seemingly adore more than their own NFL teams. People seem to actively ROOT for this curse.

There's one broad group of "MadCursers" we can summarily dismiss: The Haters. The same impulse that makes some people relentlessly troll athletes on the internet drives them towards the alluring Schadenfreude offered by the Madden Curse. They root for the Curse because they want the popular and successful to fail and tumble down to their degraded level. That Nation of Millions who already hate Richard Sherman will be watching for ANY sign that "the Curse" is having an effect upon #25, and if he so much as allows a completion, some nimrod will start tweeting "See! It's the Madden Curse!" Fuck these people. I would love to make a Mason Verger-esque martini out of their tears.

The more problematic cohort are those who sincerely believe that the Madden Curse is something that has felled NFL players in the past, and is a tangible threat to Richard Sherman's health/performance. Curse disciples point to season-ending injuries suffered by cover athletes like Michael Vick, or to dips in performance like the one suffered by Shaun Alexander after appearing on the cover in 2006. In a hyper-violent and brutally competitive sport where injuries are commonplace and careers are short, there is no shortage of rational explanations for the tribulations that befall many Madden cover boys (may I point you towards the concept of Regression To The Mean?). Instead, MILLIONS of people prefer to believe that a shadowy, mystical "curse" is the cause of ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING bad that happens to a player on the cover.

-1999: Dorsey Levens has over 1600 yards from scrimmage? The curse made the Packers miss the playoffs!

-2000: Eddie George has 1500 yards rushing and is an All-Pro? The curse made him bobble a pass that Ray Lewis picked off in the playoffs!

-2004: Ray Lewis has a great season and is 1st-team All-Pro? The curse kept him from recording an interception all season!

-2009: Larry Fitzgerald catches 97 passes for 1092 yards? The curse made him miss the Pro Bowl with a rib injury!

-2010: Drew Brees throws for 4600 yards and 33 TDs? The curse made the Saints lose to the Seahawks in the playoffs! (No, Matt Hasselbeck and Marshawn Lynch did that shit)

-2012: Calvin Johnson catches 122 passes for an NFL-record 1964 yards? The curse kept the Lions from winning the Super Bowl (somebody actually said this to me TODAY)!

People have somehow become so emotionally invested in the Madden Curse that they've made it into this elastic, malleable catch-all explanation for all a cover athlete's misfortune. If there really was a "curse," (and remember, the concept itself is utter, uncut horseshit) wouldn't it cut down ALL of the unfortunate mortals who grace the game's cover? What's the causal mechanism here, anyway? Who placed the curse on the Madden Cover? If you're gonna push manner of pablum, you should at least come up with a decent backstory, right?

I've actually spoken to Twelves who DIDN'T VOTE FOR SHERM because they believed in the Madden Curse. Come on, guys. We're not a bunch of cave dwellers thinking thunder is rumbling outside because God is angry. We're probably the NFL's most educated, literate, intellectual fanbase. We're WAY better than this.

Even if the curse did exist, it would be no match for the mighty Seattle Seahawks. I can't wait to hear the blubbering of MadCursers after Sherm wins DPOY and a 2nd ring next February. What will the curse be responsible for then? Sherm's injury in Super Bowl XLVIII? Will it somehow become retroactive?

What do you think, sirs?