No “Curse” for Arian Foster
Who doesn’t love them some Arian Foster? Those familiar with the breakout game against Indy in 2010 on opening day (33 car/231 yds/3 TD,) with that Pro Bowl season and rushing title, to carrying the load throughout the season and the playoffs last year, recognize what a special cat this player is. From Arian’s crazy-graceful cutbacks and ridiculous will to win, to his philosophizing tweets, he seems to be a truly fascinating human being. It is for this reason Texans fans are either lucky enough or smart enough to keep our guy #23 off the cover of Madden NFL ’13.
The video from Bleacher Report via YouTube enchanted many fans, convincing us maybe we’re wrong about all this. “Arian wants this and we love Arian, so just vote for him,” or something to that effect, was posted on Texans fan pages everywhere. For Tebow’s sake, – he beat the man himself in the first round. And given that Texans fans seem to place Arian’s well-being as a top priority, many of us capitulated and clicked the magical button that would lead to another notch on his way to the cover. But now that Arian’s been eliminated, there have been a lot more sighs of relief than disappointment it seems.
Why? You know why. That infamous Madden Curse that appears to afflict virtually every player selected to appear on the cover of the game, seeming to earn the honoree either a significant injury or production drop off of noticeable proportions. Sure, it sounds supernatural and ridiculous but unfortunate facts point to the very real existence of SOMETHING going on here. Do we truly want to risk our star RB, the very player whom Andre Johnson points out as the offense running through, enough to make this gamble? Arian Foster deserves every bit of recognition, fan support and bandwagon-ers blown away by his dazzling presence in the Texans offense throughout the last 2 ½ seasons. However, this is one accolade Texans fans hope Arian can live without.
Let us look at the very real results of the superstar players who were at the top of their game one year, earn the Madden cover prestige, then see what happens that season. Guaranteed, nine of ten times, it isn’t pretty.
Madden Curse: The Season Following the Cover
1999: Garrison Hearst, broken ankle, never returns to previous form.
2000: Barry Sanders, retires just short of the NFL All-Time Rushing record.
2001: Eddie George, last quarter of AFC divisional game, bobbles a pass, intercepted by Ray Lewis for a TD, Titans lose. George never again averages over 3.4 YPC in his career
2002: Daunte Culpepper, sets record for most fumbles ever in a single NFL season and leads Vikes to a 5-11 season.
2003: Marshall Faulk, suffers a steep decline in production and retires after knee replacement in 2005.
2004: Michael Vick, fractured fibula in pre-season, Falcons go 5-11.
2005: Ray Lewis, torn hamstring and first season in Lewis’ career with zero INTs in a season.
2006: Donovan McNabb, sports hernia landing him on IR; torn ACL and meniscus the following year, finishing season again on IR.
2007: Shaun Alexander, a broken foot and offensive line injuries ensure Alexander is unable to maintain his previous production.
2008: Vince Young, strained quad, loses starting job to Kerry Collins in 2008.
**Notable point here: LaDainian Tomlinson was the original choice for the 2008 cover, but San Diego fans revolted. There is some question as to why LT declined the cover but that’s what he did.**
2009: Brett Favre, retirement drama, a horrid season with the Jets, Jenn Sterger anyone?
2010: Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu share the cover. Perhaps this saved one of the two: Fitz finished a Pro-Bowl eligible season with a career high 13 TDs, and remains one of the most formidable WRs in the NFL. But Polamalu’s season? The defending Super Bowl champ first suffers an MCL sprain, then a posterior cruciate ligament injury. The Steelers narrowly miss the playoffs.
2011: Drew Brees, played every game but at least 6 were played with a torn MCL. Brees doubled his INTs over the previous Super Bowl MVP season, his QB rating drops 20 points, and the team is beat in round one of the playoffs in a stunner by a 7-9 regular season Seahawks team. Now there’s Bounty-gate and contract drama. Madden-related?
2012: Peyton Hillis, the first player voted to the cover by fans and became the poster-boy for the Madden curse. Hillis suffered from multiple hamstring injuries, “strep throat,” (aka, I-don’t-like-my-contract-sitch, so-my-agent-says-don’t-play) and verbal diarrhea within the locker room and in the press. After reportedly laughing in the face of the Madden curse following his cover shoot and saying how sad it is “how many people believe in curses,” Hillis changed his tune following a dismal 2011 outing, saying: “No doubt about it, things haven’t worked to my favor this year. There’s a few things that happened that made me believe in curses. Ain’t no doubt about it.”
Of the 15 players “honored” with a Madden NFL cover, each except Larry Fitzgerald, underwent a lackluster (by their standards) season. Many cover stars, excluding Brees, Vick, Lewis, Polamalu and possibly Hillis, experience a lackluster remainder of their career. Some Madden honorees endured episodes that were career-tarnishing. Could we accept the possibility of a 2012, possibly more, with an Arian Foster who is lacking in luster? Why would we want to risk it? As silly as a curse seems, we can’t argue with the facts above.
Arian is future of the Houston Texans franchise and as much as he and we all crave his greater recognition and notoriety, Arian can achieve it through other means and we’ll support him all the way. Imagine Peyton Hillis’ disappointment in his Madden follow up season. For Arian to experience one iota of that discontent would affect both him and us profoundly. Surely Arian’s melancholy at being kept off the Madden cover pales in comparison to injuries and a decline in his formidable skills. He’s only 25 and has many great years ahead. No one’s saying it definitely would have happened to Arian, but isn’t it relieving we don’t have to find out?