Anyone who knows of EA Sports' flagship football franchise knows of the supposed "Madden curse" that comes with it. It's an urban legend that resurfaces every year when the video game developer announces the cover athlete, and this year's cover went to none other than Patrick Mahomes, who was fresh off of a dominant first full season as an NFL starter -- landing league MVP honors in the process. And with the reveal came predictions of doom and gloom for Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, but instead they went on to finish with a 12-4 record before mowing through the playoffs to square up with the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
There was still time for the curse to kick in, though. With the Chiefs down 20-10 on the back half of the fourth quarter, most felt Mahomes' second interception of the night sealed the deal for the 49ers. Instead, the Kansas City defense clamped down and Mahomes caught fire with the help of wide receiver Tyreek Hill and running back Damien Williams, and suddenly the score was 20-17.
And then the Chiefs took a 24-20 lead and never looked back en route to a 31-20 final score, their first Lombardi trophy in 50 years, and a Super Bowl MVP nod for Mahomes only one year after is aforementioned league MVP honor.
To be fair to those who believe in the superstition of the Madden cover, their prediction of catastrophe nearly came to pass earlier in the season.
Mahomes went down in excruciating pain against the Denver Broncos in Week 7, following a quarterback sneak gone horribly wrong. At first glance, even he thought his 2019 season was over, but it was determined he suffered a dislocated knee cap and would return eventually. Bucking the curse (and conventional wisdom) altogether, he went on to miss only three games because of the injury, and returned to finish the season with 4,031 passing yards and 26 passing touchdowns to only five interceptions.
And as far as his knee goes? It's just fine, as evidenced by his 137 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns in the playoffs.
Maybe the Madden curse is real, and maybe Mahomes is simply too magical for it to have any effect on him. After all, he is the only NFL player in the history of the video game's franchise to win the Super Bowl the same year in which he was awarded the cover, with the other being retired and future Hall of Fame tight end Rob Gronkowski (2017). Since EA Sports began naming cover athletes at the turn of the century, 12 of them failed to make the playoffs in their respective year, five lost before the conference championship, and two made it to the Super Bowl but lost.
That's a success rate of only 9.5 percent (21 athletes due to double athlete cover on Madden 10), so maybe folks are onto something. I mean, Antonio Brown was the cover athlete for Madden NFL 19, and that alone will keep the urban legend alive and thriving until the end of time -- because yeesh.
It doesn't apply to Mahomes though, but then again, he's barely human anyway.