Calvin Johnson broke the record for receiving yards in a season thanks to a 225-yard performance in Saturday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons, but as the Lions wide receiver surpassed Jerry Rice on the all-time list he also did something else — he crushed the so-called Madden Curse.
The Madden Curse has grown into a legend among football fans, and states that the player featured on the cover of the Madden NFL video game will go on to suffer a drastic drop-off in performance that year. The idea is so prevalent that NFL.com kept a weekly blog watching to see if the Madden Curse is playing out.
The Madden Curse gets some credence from the myth-debunking site Snopes, and there is even some historical evidence to the idea. In 2000, Lions running back Barry Sanders graced the cover, but retired in the offseason and never played a down that year.
In 2002, Daunte Culpepper followed a fantastic season and a Madden cover by leading the Vikings to a 4-7 record before suffering an injury and missing the remaining five games. The next season the same fate befell Rams running back Marshall Faulk, who saw a season hampered by injuries after gracing the Madden cover.
If there was a curse, it appears to be dead now after Calvin Johnson’s record.
In the game against the Falcons, Calvin Johnson was nearly unstoppable as he cruised to the record, NFL.com noted. He caught passes over the middle, down the sideline, and using a variety of routes.
Calvin Johnson now has the record for receiving yards, with 1,892 yards, and with one game left has a good chance to be the first receiver ever to break the 2,000-yard mark.