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Every year, football fans everywhere anxiously await the current season’s edition of Madden NFL video game. While there’s plenty of excitement—who doesn’t love logging some couch time with the elite coach—there’s also a certain amount of anxiety. Each Madden cover also carries a curse; this year, that honor went to Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The regular season, however, has come and gone, and the Chiefs are one win away from a Super Bowl title. Does that mean Patrick Mahomes has officially broken the Madden Curse?

The history of the Madden Curse

In the early days of John Madden’s video game franchise, the iconic coach graced the packaging. After a few editions, though, a player started appearing on each season’s cover.

While earning a spot on the Madden cover is an honor, it’s also carried a curse: that player, more often than not, struggles during the next season. Michael Vick, for example, broke his leg during the 2003 preseason after appearing on the cover of Madden 2004; Peyton Hillis won a fan vote to become the face of Madden 2012, but never replicated his break-out season.

Many skeptics contend that the Madden Curse isn’t perpetrated by mystical forces, but by simple regression. Players tend to land on the cover after a statistically great season; it’s unlikely that anyone, even the NFL’s top players, will have two career seasons in a row. It’s also worth noting that several players, like Calvin Johnson and Eddie George, did manage to excel during their supposedly cursed campaigns.

Patrick Mahomes’ close call

When the Kansas City Chiefs started the season 4-0, it seemed like Patrick Mahomes had avoided the dreaded Madden Curse. Despite a baulky ankle, everything was going well. That changed, however, in Week 7.

During the Chiefs’ game against the Denver Broncos, Mahomes called his own number and dialed up a quarterback sneak. When the referees pulled everyone off the pile, though, there was a problem: Mahomes was in pain. Trainers popped his kneecap back into place and gingerly helped the quarterback off the field.

While it initially seemed like the Madden Curse had claimed another victim, Mahomes rebounded. An MRI confirmed that the young quarterback would miss a few weeks rather than the rest of the season, and, sure enough, he bounced back. Thanks to a combination of genetics, the Chiefs’ training staff, and rest, Mahomes only missed two starts. Since returning, he has led the club to eight consecutive wins, including two historic postseason comebacks.

Has Patrick Mahomes officially broken the Madden Curse?

On the football field, Patrick Mahomes has proven that he can do just about everything. Even if the Chiefs don’t win the Super Bowl, he’s managed to avoid the Madden Curse like it was an onrushing linebacker. Completely breaking the curse, however, might be beyond even his powers.

While Mahomes bounced back from injury and has his team on the brink of a championship, we’ve seen other players shine during their season on the Madden cover. The curse, however, hasn’t vanished; the next time a cover star goes down, the whispers start right back up.

If next year’s cover athlete remains healthy and posts another strong season, maybe we can add ‘curse breaker’ to Patrick Mahomes’ legacy. Even if he didn’t manage that supernatural feat, though, a Super Bowl victory would be a nice consolation prize.


Patrick Mahomes’ Road to the NFL May Have Gotten a Boost From Mother Nature