Patrick Mahomes was named Super Bowl MVP after leading the Kansas City Chiefs back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the San Francisco 49ers. Which is notable for a whole bunch of reasons, including that Mahomes, 24, is the youngest QB to win the award – and the youngest player in NFL history to win both a regular-season MVP and a Super Bowl.
It’s also notable because Mahomes was on the cover of Madden 20. And Madden cover athletes aren’t supposed to have successful seasons.
Or at least that’s the theory behind the “Madden Curse,” the
phenomenon fallacy that gracing the cover of the popular video game signals impending doom.
Mahomes, though, rose above it. He led two fantastic playoff comebacks to get the Chiefs to the Super Bowl. On Sunday, he threw for 286 yards, rushed for one touchdown and passed for two, including the game-winning score to Damien Williams with 2:44 remaining.
And he lived a dream that’s stewed inside of him for a while. “I bet it feels amazing to be the quarterback who says ‘I’m going to Disney World’ after winning the Super Bowl,” Mahomes tweeted after the Ravens beat the 49ers in 2013.
I bet it feels amazing to be the quarterback who says "I'm going to Disney World" after winning the Super Bowl #Qbs
— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) February 6, 2013
Standing atop a podium in Miami on Sunday night, Mahomes got to do it. “Something I’ve wanted to say my whole life,” he told Fox’s Terry Bradshaw after the Chiefs were awarded the Lombardi Trophy. “I’m going to Disney World!
And with that, he was off to celebrate – though without losing his modesty, of course:
Patrick Mahomes is asked if he's the face of the NFL, defers and points to Lamar Jackson winning the MVP.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) February 3, 2020
And with all of that, the Madden Curse died for good.
Mahomes is first Madden cover star to win Super Bowl
EA Sports has been placing NFL stars on its Madden covers since the turn of the century. And not once had the cover star gone on to play in and win a Super Bowl the following season.
Some, like Peyton Hillis in 2011-12, didn’t even come close. Others, recently, had been foiled on the doorstep. Richard Sherman was on the cover the year Malcolm Butler picked off Russell Wilson at the goal line. The Patriots won the Super Bowl the year Rob Gronkowski was on the cover, but Gronk was on IR. Tom Brady’s one and only season on the cover ended in a Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.
Of course, there was no actual causation in the relationship between presence on a Madden cover and injuries or failures or statistical declines. Cover stardom itself is the result of sensational seasons. Regression after a sensational season is expected and natural. Injuries happen in football. The probability of a cover star winning an MVP or Super Bowl, inherently, is very low. There’s no need to invent a curse to explain any of that.
But Mahomes overcame the odds. He actually did suffer an injury earlier in the season, but overcame that as well. In reality, he didn’t so much kill off the curse. He just provided a shining example that can be used to refute it for years to come.
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