Madden 12 is here and if you were like thousands of sports nerds that waited in line last night at midnight, we’re sure you are already well into October in franchise mode. But before it took you practically a half hour to open the cellophane wrapping, you probably drooled at the cover and then thought for just a second about what the ramifications could be for this year’s cover athlete.
EA Sports has always selected the best-known, highest-performing players to feature on the cover of what has become the biggest spots video game on the market, but it often comes at a steep price. It seems that almost every player suffers an injury or a less-than-stellar season the year they grace the cover and now the “Madden Curse” is after its next victim – Peyton Hillis.
The curse has become a huge deal in the NFL community in recent years thanks to media hype and word of mouth from players and fans. Many feature platers have fallen prey to it in the past and it’s gotten so bad that some players, like LaDanian Tomlinson, have turned down the honor but this year EA Sports didn’t chose who would be featured on the cover. You did.
This brings us back to Hillis.
The 25-year-old Cleveland Browns running back was chosen for the cover several months ago, as he edged out Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in a bracket-style contest that was held on EA’s website. Hillis doesn’t fit the characteristics of the usual candidate. He is hardly a superstar and still flies under the radar of many, less avid, football fans. The fact that he is a lesser star could make him less prone to the curse because there isn’t as far of a fall to failure but don’t be fooled, this guy can run.
Last season, Hillis rushed for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns which ranked him sixth among NFL running backs and even helped earn him the nickname “The Albino Rhino”. So with the dark cloud that is the curse over his head, can he put up similar numbers this season?
Well the threat of an injury is always there, but these things are unpredictable, so you just really never know. However, if he can stay healthy, the 6-foot-1, 253 pound Hillis is certainly built for the long haul. He is one of the largest running back in the league and the size advantage certainly works in his favor.
Don’t forget that he plays for the subpar Cleveland Browns. The Browns are not exactly the New England Patriots and don’t usually spend money on high priced talent to help build their team, so Hillis is kind of on his own. He has looked good this preseason, especially last week against the Philadelphia Eagles, when he totaled 53 yards of offense against a solid defensive line and he left many of the defensive backs on their butts.
We will all know soon enough whether Hillis will fall victim to the Madden Curse or if he will overcome it and pick up right where he left off last season. One thing is certain, history is not on his side and fantasy owners should take that into consideration come draft day.
Photo courtesy of The Associated Press.