I just responded to an email from blog reader Scott C. and I thought it might be worth posting to everyone. Scott's email was confirming how crazy the Madden Curse is. (He also points out that there might be an "ESPN Mobile" curse. How is Reggie Bush's draft strategy working out?)
I was thinking about why (or how) the Madden Curse exists and what it means. It might have something to do with this:
EA tends to pick players coming off career years -- applying the ol' "regression to the mean" theory, the cover players have nowhere to go but down, including freak injuries (or other injuries that aren't so "freak").
So it stands to reason that if EA took players on the rise (rather than at the top of their game), yes, they would increase the variance their cover guy might have an off-year -- but also perhaps mitigate the chance they suffer the curse.
(And what's the risk of an "off-year" by a rising player as compared to a season-killing year by the league's biggest star nicked by the Curse?)
Anyway, I have to believe EA doesn't think the Curse is a bad thing. In fact, I strongly believe they think it's incredibly awesome. It gives them a ton more mileage out of the brand -- and keeps people talking about the game long after the game is released and does the bulk of its sales.
(For example, they get a bump when the cover athlete is named AND they get a bump when the cover athlete is inevitably hurt. This bookends the actual "Maddenoliday" release day, which is an event in and of itself.)
I think I wrote about this in the Quickie a few years ago, but it's so obvious now:
The Madden Curse has replaced the SI Jinx as the "cool" cultural milestone for the inevitability of spectacular future failure.