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Exclusive: Electronic Arts Planning ‘Madden Curse: The Movie’

Pat O’Brien, VP of EA Entertainment, will produce the sports comedy


What started as a simple joke may now become a motion picture.

Electronic Arts is developing "Madden Curse," a sports comedy that incorporates the infamous jinx, believed to strike NFL players who appear on the cover of EA's popular "Madden" video game with injury or poor performance.

The story will follow a former Madden video game champion who is forced out of retirement just as he finds himself on the corner of the game's cover — and subject to the curse.

Pat O'Brien, VP of EA Entertainment, is spearheading the project as one of its producers.

O'Brien wasn't immediately available for comment on Monday, but an individual at Electronic Arts confirmed that the company is developing a movie about the so-called curse.

In 2007, EA Sports' director of marketing Chris Erb told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "I don't know that we believe in the curse. The players don't believe in the curse."

Tell that to LaDainian Tomlinson, the former San Diego Chargers running back who turned down the opportunity to appear on the 2008 cover of Madden. Tomlinson cited contract negotiations as the chief reason why he turned down the cover, but perhaps Tomlinson is a bit more superstitious than he's willing to admit.

The Madden franchise has already spawned a reality TV show, "Madden Nation," which has aired on ESPN2 since 2005. The series follows top players from around the nation as they compete for the chance to win a $100,000 grand prize.

Regardless of whether the Madden Curse actually exists or not, it certainly has a spooky history (outlined in great detail below; thus ends news about the potential film).

NFL legend John Madden appeared on the cover of all the Madden games until 1999, when San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst had the unfortunate honor. Hearst played well throughout the regular season but broke his fibula in the NFC divisional playoffs. He missed two full seasons rehabbing his leg and never fully recovered from the injury.

In 2000, the Madden cover featured runnings backs Barry Sanders and Dorsey Levens. When Sanders retired before the season, EA Sports released new copies of the game with Levens on the cover. He injured his knee and never won his starting job back.

The Madden Curse struck 2001 cover subject Eddie George a year late, though his career was cut short nonetheless, while QB Dante Culpepper suffered a season-ending knee injury after appearing on the 2002 cover.

After rushing for more than 1,300 yards for four straight seasons, 2003 cover Marshall Faulk was bothered by a lingering ankle injury that limited him to under 1,000 rushing yards.

Michael Vick broke his leg one day after Madden 2004 was released with his photo on the cover. He only played in five games all year.

After earning the honor in 2005, perennial Pro Bowler Ray Lewis failed to record a single interception, and a torn hamtring forced him to watch the Ravens fail to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. He also broke his wrist and missed 10 games the following year with a thigh injury.

In 2006, Donovan McNabb said publicly that he didn't believe in the curse. The Philadelphia Eagles QB suffered a sports hernia in his first game before opting for season-ending surgery after eight games.

In 2007, running back Shaun Alexander broke his foot and missed six games, never regaining his Pro Bowl form.

After Tomlinson turned down the 2008 cover, EA turned to Tennessee Titans QB Vince Young, who was swiftly struck by the curse, which limited him to just five games thanks to a quadriceps injury. The following year, he suffered a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the season.

Madden 2009 featured golden boy Brett Favre on the cover, but even the Madden Curse couldn't keep him out of the lineup.

The 2010 cover featured both Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu, the latter of whom sprained his MCL in the season opener before tearing his PCL later in the season. As for Fitzgerald, he suffered a rib injury that caused him to miss a playoff game, as well as the Pro Bowl.

New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees appears on the cover of the latest incarnation of Madden, and while he has managed to stay healthy this year, there are still two weeks left in the regular season for the curse to take its toll. Don't say we didn't warn you.