Hillis over Rodgers: 'Madden Curse' lives!

In these locked-out times, I'm quite sure I wasn't the only loser -- er, interested party -- refreshing the ESPN.com's "Madden 12" bracket page Monday afternoon to find out whether either of our NFC North players had advanced to the finals.

Alas, they did not.

And it wasn't close.

Neither Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers nor Minnesota Vikings tailback Adrian Peterson will be on the cover of 'Madden 12' this year.

I can see Vick, the electrifying quarterback of a 2010 division winner, defeating Peterson, the All-Pro tailback of a last-place team in 2010. (The final vote was 59-41 percent.) But Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis over Rodgers? I think we know what's happened here.

I'm sure I'll get some hate mail from Browns fans over this one, but I'm pretty convinced that the so-called "Madden curse" played a big role here. Rodgers tweeted last week that he didn't believe in the curse and that he wanted to win this tournament, but I can't tell you how many Packers fans I've heard from who were actively voting for Hillis in fear of the curse.

As we documented a few weeks ago, there have been a number of instances in which "Madden 12" cover honorees suffered some level of downturn the following season. I obviously didn't conduct a poll of ever Packers fan, and it is true that the Browns heavily promoted Hillis' candidacy. But how else can we explain the Super Bowl MVP losing -- by a 61-39 percent landslide -- to a running back with 1,574 yards rushing in his three-year career?

Based on your initial reaction, the answer is obvious:

@Bri_Fuller: that's cause some packer fans were voting for Hillis because of the curse..rather have a #SHIP than a Madden Cover though

@ericelstad: SB repeat for sure now with no curse coming @AaronRodgers12 way!

@schlizzag: I am perfectly happy with this. No Madden Curse in Green Bay this year! #gopackgo

I have to admit to being caught off guard by how seriously people have taken this tournament. Short of tracking IP addresses, I don't think we'll ever know how many of Hillis' votes were actually intended to "help" Rodgers avoid the Madden Curse. The Browns have a deep and passionate fan base as well, but it's not hard to put two and two together here.

So much for being the Epicenter of Gamenity. I guess we'll just have to settle for having the best two teams in the NFC last season, and the eventual Super Bowl champions, in our division.