AFC East will avoid Madden Curse

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The Madden Curse won't strike anybody in the AFC East this year.

The cover boy for Madden NFL 10, the most popular football video game since George Plimpton told us how realistic Intellivision was, will be revealed Friday afternoon at the Edison Ballroom in New York.

None of the nine cover finalists hails from the AFC East -- anymore.

But one made his mark last year for the New England Patriots. Here's the list:

I thought Miami Dolphins quarterback Chad Pennington or running back Ronnie Brown -- the Wildcat formation supposedly has been installed in the upcoming game, due on shelves Aug. 14 -- easily could be justified on that list.

Does Cassel really belong on that list? He might be the one actually chosen for the cover. Cassel, Fitzgerald and Jacobs were the only candidates invited to Friday's unveiling.

I predict Fitzgerald will be selected for the cover.

NFL analyst Cris Collinsworth, the man replacing John Madden in the "Sunday Night Football" booth, and veteran play-by-play man Tom Hammond break down each player in a series of nine videos at the Madden NFL 10 site.

"Probably the most stunning story that I can remember in a long time in the NFL," Collinsworth says. "Here's a guy that didn't even play college football. It was at USC and standing in line behind some great players.

"But you think of taking off not only that gap in years of college but that gap in years behind Tom Brady and then being asked to come in and take over for an undefeated team and the pressure that went with it. He wasn't perfect, but to be put in that situation ... I thought he handled himself tremendously well.

"As far as a great story of what happened in the NFL a year ago, [Cassel] was as good as it got."

Brett Favre was selected last year before he came out of retirement and was traded to the New York Jets. We all know how that turned out.

Other cover boys include Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper, Vince Young, Shaun Alexander and Garrison Hearst.