Josh Allen is doomed. DOOOOOMED, I say!
Allen was selected to be the cover athlete for Madden 24, the latest edition of the popular football video game series and therefore he is subject to the infamous "Madden Curse." This hex states, unequivocally, that any athlete whose visage graces the game's cover be immediately subject to great calamity or, failing that, some really bad stats.
Allen, his sorcery limited only to his impeccably powerful flinging of the cowhide, is helpless against escaping the curse's clutches. Oh, if only he had known to do as many who have preceded him have, to pen a letter to Electronic Arts, beseeching their mercy and to instead subject some other individual to this malediction.
Any seasoned aficionado is well-versed in the unfailing power of a sports curse.
The Curse of the Bambino. The Curse of the Billy Goat. The Socceroos Curse. The Superdome Curse. The Curse of Billy Penn.
Well folks, this curse is real, nasty and more powerful than all of them combined.
Consider: 56% of past Madden cover athletes saw at least an 80-point decline in PPR fantasy production in the season they were selected. That's greater than the percentage of games that Christian McCaffrey has played over the past three seasons.
Among those cover athletes, 37% suffered a significant, often season-ending, injury. That's greater than Justin Jefferson's target share last season.
However, chronicling the specifics of the curse on an individual even better exemplifies its ironclad grasp.
Garrison Hearst, the game's first cover athlete on the European edition of Madden 99, fractured his ankle during the 1998 divisional round, costing him the entirely of the next two seasons.
Madden 2000 cover athlete Barry Sanders opted for retirement over the curse dishing him out a harsher fate. Sanders' replacement for the European edition, Dorsey Levens, fell victim to multiple knee surgeries the following season and was released by the Green Bay Packers in 2001.
Marshall Faulk, whose unprecedented streak of four consecutive seasons with at least 2,000 yards from scrimmage earned him the honors of being on the Madden 2003 cover, strained a tendon in his foot midway through the following season and was never close to the same player thereafter.
Just five days after the release of Madden 2004, cover athlete Michael Vick, fractured his fibula, costing him the season's first 15 games.
Shaun Alexander, one of only 10 players since the merger to lead the league in attempts, yards and touchdowns rushing in the same season, graced the cover of Madden 07. He then broke his foot in Week 3 of the following season, missed six games, saw his touchdown total decline by 21 and was out of the league two years later.
Vince Young captured the Madden 08 cover after a promising rookie campaign and saw his interception total swell to 17 as a sophomore. He lost his starting job the following year and never truly recaptured his prior form.
Fresh off a breakthrough 1,177-yard, 11-touchdown rushing campaign, Peyton Hillis won the Madden 12 fan vote and a place on that year's cover. However, preseason contract squabbles, a severe case of strep throat and a nagging hamstring issue would derail his follow-up season, and he would make only three more NFL starts after that.
Rob Gronkowski grabbed the cover of Madden 17 and then suffered a hamstring injury, pulmonary contusion and ultimately underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back that forced him to watch the New England Patriots' come-from-behind Super Bowl victory from the sideline.
Speaking of curse-driven Super Bowl heartbreak, the seemingly curse-proof Tom Brady graced the cover Madden NFL 18 and fell prey to the utter shame of losing to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
Lamar Jackson led the league with 36 passing touchdowns and set a single-season quarterback record with 1,206 yards rushing in 2019, securing the cover of Madden 21. Dismally, he was incapable of repeating the effort, throwing for 20 fewer touchdowns and rushing for 201 fewer yards while THE Baltimore Ravens settled for wild-card playoff spot that season. The horrors!
And, in perhaps the worst hex yet, Brady and Patrick Mahomes -- each recklessly subjecting themselves to the curse for a second time -- both appeared on the cover of Madden 22, and neither one was capable of leading their team to the Super Bowl. Curses!
The naysayers may regale us with "facts," such as Mahomes' Super Bowl LIV championship and MVP award, which came in the wake of his Madden 20 cover appearance. Hogwash. Mahomes dislocated his kneecap during the regular season, painfully costing him two games, not to mention the two interceptions he tossed in the big game. He clearly swindled the more deserving Damien Williams of MVP honors. A subterfuge of the Curse? I think not.
Moreover, these same folk might point out that many of the curse's earlier victims were running backs beyond the prime of their careers or one-year wonders. To that, I say, getting old is a curse -- migraines, knee pain, reading glasses, an advisable switch from white to whole-wheat bread.
Or they might say that not one of the past five Madden cover athletes has felt a meaningful effect of the curse, Mahomes included? Nonsense. Why, then, has none of those players been the No. 1 draft pick in fantasy football leagues during that time? Why have five of those six players failed to accomplish something so easy as to win his team a Super Bowl championship? Moreover, why did three of these individuals see a decline in fantasy-point production in the season that immediately followed? It was all the curse, again, doing its dirty work. It always finds a way.
The evidence therefore is overwhelming, I rest my case. Allen, most unfortunately, is now undraftable in fantasy football leagues!
Take this to heart, especially those of you playing against me this season. The last thing you want to do is have me present to witness you making such a foolish pick.
Tracking the "Madden Curse"
Victims of the curse (13): Garrison Hearst, 1999; Barry Sanders, 2000; Dorsey Levens, 2000; Daunte Culpepper, 2002; Marshall Faulk, 2003; Michael Vick, 2004; Donovan McNabb, 2006; Shaun Alexander, 2007; Vince Young, 2008; Troy Polamalu, 2010; Peyton Hillis, 2012; Adrian Peterson, 2014; Rob Gronkowski, 2017.
Avoided the curse (9): Larry Fitzgerald, 2010; Calvin Johnson, 2013; Richard Sherman, 2015; Odell Beckham Jr., 2016; Tom Brady, 2018; Patrick Mahomes, 2020; Lamar Jackson, 2021; Brady, 2022; Mahomes, 2022.
Debatable (5): Eddie George, 2001; Ray Lewis, 2005; Brett Favre, 2009; Drew Brees, 2011; Antonio Brown, 2019.