Everyone knows about the Madden curse. Whomstever graces the cover of the latest installment of the Madden franchise is doomed to suffer a terrible season. It doesn’t happen every year, but more often than not, having your face on EA’s broken football simulation video game is a horrible omen.
Antonio Brown was on the cover of Madden in 2019. That’s the year AB went absolutely bonkers. 2004 saw Michael Vick as the cover athlete. He suffered a fractured fibula less than a week after the game was released, which limited Vick to only five games that season. Peyton Hillis missed six games in 2012 and averaged just 3.6 yards per carry after recording over 1,000 yards the year prior. You get it. Even Patrick Mahomes is facing some serious struggles after gracing the Madden cover for the second time in three seasons.
The Madden curse is serious, but it’s a joke when compared to the latest curse craze in the NFL: the Manning curse!
In case you haven’t heard, ESPN has been doing two broadcasts of some of their Monday Night Football telecasts. One is the normal, everyday broadcast you would expect. The other has been a telecast of the game with live commentary from Super Bowl-winning quarterback brothers, Peyton and Eli Manning, as well as several special guests ranging from late night show hosts to current NFL players. However, NFL players might want to start avoiding appearances on the ManningCast for the sake of their team’s seasons.
While the ManningCast hasn’t had current NFL players on every week (they haven’t even had a broadcast every week), every player to have appeared on the show has lost the following week.
- In Week 1, Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce and Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson both made guest appearances. The Chiefs lost their Week 2 matchup with Baltimore 36-35, while Wilson’s Seahawks suffered an overtime loss at the hands of Tennessee in Week 2.
- In Week 2, the Mannings had Bucs’ tight end Rob Gronkowski on the show. In Week 3, the Bucs lost their first game of the season, a 34-24 defeat at the hands of Matt Stafford and the Los Angeles Rams.
- Naturally, Stafford made an appearance in Week 3. In Week 4, his undefeated Rams lost their only game of the year to the Arizona Cardinals.
- After a multi-week hiatus, the ManningCast returned in Week 7 and featured reigning Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady, quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs lost their next game, 36-27, to the Trevor Siemian-led New Orleans Saints.
That’s five players to have made appearances on the ManningCast and five players whose teams lost the next week. In Week 8, Buffalo Bills’ quarterback Josh Allen made his first appearance on the show. On the surface, it seemed fun and wholesome. Peyton mentioned how big an Allen fan his son was and that Allen had sent Peyton’s son a game-used jersey.
They talked about the time Allen and Patrick Mahomes forced Peyton to make multiple beer runs during a party at his house once.
However, something much more sinister was at play, as by joining the Manning brothers on Monday night, Allen had unwittingly signed a contract that demands his team to lose in Week 9. This is all part of the Mannings’ plan. Have you noticed that the only team to have two players make appearances is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Who did Peyton and Eli each have a rivalry with during their playing careers? Thomas Edward Patrick Brady, Jr. They want the Bucs to keep losing games. I wouldn’t be surprised if Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and Bruce Arians all get invited to the ManningCast in the second half of the season.
I should also point out that not a single player from the Broncos, Colts, or Giants has made an appearance. Could it be because none of those teams has a genuine superstar on their squad currently? No. I can only be because the Mannings know what an appearance on their telecast means and they don’t want to screw over their former squads.
In all seriousness though, if anyone is going to break the Manning curse, it’s going to be Allen. The Buffalo Bills take on the Jacksonville Jaguars this weekend. That’s a game that no curse, no matter how ritualistic or sealed with goat’s blood, should have an effect on. However, if the Bills lose, I wonder if NFL teams would actually start taking this thing seriously. We know how superstitious athletes can be. While superstition is more prevalent in baseball, there are still several NFL players who carry luck chains, charms, and rabbit’s feet to give their team the best chance of winning every Sunday. So, if Buffalo suffers a defeat to the woeful Jaguars this weekend, will NFL teams actually start ordering their players to turn down invitations to the ManningCast? I wouldn’t be shocked.
Obviously, the Manning curse doesn’t have a huge sample size yet, and calling something a “curse” after just five instances is probably a stretch. All I’m saying is that the Madden curse has a hit rate of about 85 percent since 2000. The Manning curse has a hit rate of 100 percent, so be wary when you see your favorite team’s player scheduled to make an appearance with the Mannings on Monday night, and hammer the moneyline for the opposing team.