Panther Nation, we have a situation that has been collecting strength over the past month, and it involves our franchise QB, Cam Newton. It is the dreaded Madden NFL ’15 cover contest and it has come down to our Superman vs. Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman.
Let me preface this conversation by saying that this is not a video game review, rather it is a look at the potential ramifications that this urban legend has on our cornerstone leader on offense.
For those that are not aware of the Madden Curse, allow me to summarize it quickly. In 2000, EA Sports moved away from slapping John Madden on the cover of the self-titled NFL games, and started featuring NFL players on the cover instead. Over the next 14 years, there would be a string of players that were honored with being named to the cover. Along with being named to the cover, there was also an eery trail of injuries and subpar seasons linked to almost every respective player.
The list of players that have fallen “victim” to the supposed curse sparks debate every year when the anticipation of who will don the cover is building up. For every injury or poor season, there is a player that escaped unharmed. Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly were among the 16 finalists looking to have their mug splashed on the cover, but Newton survived as Kuechly was ousted by San Francisco 49ers-quarterback, Colin Kaepernick. Newton will battle it out against Sherman in the Finals, but if Cam wins this fight, he will have another challenge on his hands - staying healthy and productive during the 2014-15 season.
Newton is an avid Madden player and lost out to Calvin Johnson for the cover in 2012. Johnson went on to have a phenomenal season setting a career high in receiving yards. He followed that up in 2013 with arguably the second-best season of his career. Drew Brees had similar success after he was the Madden poster-boy in 2010. Brees, coming off a Super Bowl victory the previous season, enjoyed a very respectable year as his Saints went 11-5.
Cam Newton, if he should win, will look to follow in the footsteps of Johnson and Brees. He is aware of the supposed curse, yet chooses to remain unfazed by its’ twisted folklore. A folklore that has seen its’ fair share of problematic demise over the years.
- Former Titans’ running back, Eddie George was the inaugural Madden Cover recipient on Madden 2001. His 2000-01 season was his best statistic season, though he did cough up a costly fumble in the AFC Divisional Playoff game. 2001 is where the curse bit George as he hobbled through an injury-riddled season posted career low numbers.
- Dante Culpepper graced the cover for Madden 2002 after he put up near-MVP numbers the previous year. His 2001-02 season ended in week 11 with a back injury, and he threw 13 interceptions to only 14 touchdowns prior to his early departure.
- Michael Vick is probably the most popular example for “pro-curse advocates” as his season crumbled almost immediately. In 2003, only five days after the release of Madden, Vick fractured a fibula in a meaningless preseason game. He returned to compete in the final five games, but the Falcons’ season was already lost.
Newton is nursing an ankle injury, but appears to be ahead of schedule as he was throwing comfortably at OTAs last week. Our star quarterback is poised to have an exciting season in ’14 as he has a new set of shiny receiving options that better fit his playing style. He and rookie-Kelvin Benjamin have already begun connecting on and off the field, so expect big things from those two.
The question is how confident are you in Cam’s 2014 season if he wins the Cover Contest? Do you think it’s just a ridiculous superstition that has no real merit, or is it something that Panther Nation should be concerned about? What is your take on this Panther fans?