Perhaps the most unique Madden Curse belongs to Brett Favre, who -- quite the opposite of Barry Sanders -- was named to the cover immediately after retiring from the Packers. Naturally, he appeared on the cover in a Packers uniform-- the only one he'd truly been known to where.
Until he un-retired later that summer and was traded to the New York Jets -- where he led the league with 22 interceptions. Another quirk: He wasn't actually on an active roster when the game was released. A subsequent online roster update placed him on the Jets.
(Photo by: Diamond Images/Getty Images)
9. Eddie George, 2001
We'll cut Eddie George some slack, because he did post his best statistical regular season while on the cover of Madden. But in the postseason, trailing the Ravens by a touchdown late, George famously dropped a pass that led directly to a Ray Lewis interception return for a touchdown -- ending Tennessee's season.
(Photo credit should read NEIL BRAKE/AFP/Getty Images)
8. Donavon McNabb, 2006
The Eagles' 2005 season is probably remembered by most Philly fans as a never-ending Terrell Owens soap opera. For that reason, we'll take it a little easier on Donavon McNabb, who had to put up with his No. 1 receiver hating his guts. But let's be clear: He did not escape the Madden Curse.
While on the cover, McNabb played just nine games. His team finished 6-10 and missed the postseason all together. The next year, Owens was a Dallas Cowboy.
(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
7. Drew Brees, 2011
When named to the cover of Madden NFL 11, Drew Brees seemed like the obvious choice. He'd just led the Saints to Super Bowl win in fairly dominant fashion. But as the cover man, the Saints went just 11-5, and lost in the first round to the Seahawks, who made the postseason with just a 7-9 record -- the first losing team ever to do so.
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
6. Daunte Culpepper, 2002
After going 11-5 in his first season as starter with the Minnesota Vikings, Daunte Culpepper was awarded the Madden cover for 2002. What followed, he'd like to forget. He led the league with 23 interceptions and a whopping 23 fumbles. He recovered quickly enough to go on and enjoy some success later in his career, but the Madden Curse still qualifies here.
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
5. Vince Young, 2008
In the early portion of his career, Vince Young was actually living up to expectations. In his rookie year, he led the league with five come-from-behind drives to win games. But he started just one game in 2008, and was out of Tennessee by 2010. His last NFL gig was with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2011, where he threw four touchdowns and nine interceptions.
(Photo by Matthew Kutz/Sporting News via Getty Images)
4. Peyton Hillis, 2012
When the cover was first opened up to fan voting in 2011, of course it was the Browns that messed everything up. Peyton Hillis ran for 1,177 yards in 2010, earning him the fans' admiration and a trip to the Madden cover.
To begin the next season, his agent famously told him to sit out with a minor injury so that he could get a better contract. He never quite found the groove he was in the precious year, and was let go by Cleveland after the 2011 season.
He's ran for 1,258 yards in the four years since his 2010 season.
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
3. Shaun Alexander, 2007
When Shaun Alexander was named to the 2007 cover, it made all the sense in the world. He was coming off a season in which he ran for an astounding 1,800 yards and an amazing 27 touchdowns. But that was the last success he'd find in the NFL.
He broke his foot in Week 3, missed a handful of games, and didn't run for 1,800 yards again for the entire remainder of his career. He was out of football by 2008.
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
2. Barry Sanders, 2000
This one is more complicated than the rest. After appearing on the cover (next to John Madden) of Madden NFL 2000, Barry Sanders abruptly retired from the league at age 31.
(JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
1. Michael Vick, 2004
After gracing the cover of Madden NFL 2004 (and being one of the most dominant players in any Madden installment), Michael Vick broke his leg in the preseason -- the day after Madden released. He missed the first 11 games of the season, and the Falcons started 2-10 before finishing strong to salvage 5-11.
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BACK TO SLIDE
By JOHN DORN
As Madden NFL 16 releases today, we have one wish: for cover athlete Odell Beckham Jr. to stay healthy and prosperous.
Thing is, history doesn't exactly have us feeling optimistic.
Though the sentiment has regressed in recent years, the so-called Madden Curse has dominated the conversation regarding cover athletes since the players started appearing on the covers -- from Barry Sanders in 2000, to Michael Vick in 2004 all the way on to Peyton Hillis in 2012. Cover guys tend to dip in performance in the season they grace the game -- not always, but at an alarming historical rate.
Above, we ranked the 10 times the curse struck the hardest. Click through to see which NFLer was hurt the most by this honor, and watch the video below to hear more from Beckham's surprising take on what he'd change about the NFL.