Only 12 games into his NFL career, ascending New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was officially offered the cover of next year's Madden NFL football video game Thursday morning. But history proves that he might want to turn it down, or, at the very least, the Giants might want to mummify their young star in bubble wrap to make sure the acrobatic pass catcher survives what awaits him in the coming season.
Because the Madden Curse is alive and well. So many guys who've walked in his shoes before have stumbled and gotten hurt — in some cases horrifically, with injuries that threatened their football careers. San Francisco 49ers RB Garrison Hearst, the first Madden cover boy in 1999, suffered a career-threatening ankle injury in the playoffs after appearing on the game.
The following year, the legendary Barry Sanders was originally the cover of Madden 2000, but retired shortly after the game was released. Packers RB Dorsey Levens replaced him on a re-release, made it through the season unscathed, but suffered an injury a season later that led to his own retirement. 2001 cover athlete Eddie George made a bad turnover later that season in a playoff game against the Ravens and was never the same dominant runner.
Madden 2002 cover star Daunte Culpepper, the Vikings QB, suffered a season-ending knee injury months after appearing on the game. Rams RB Marshall Faulk was never the same after he was featured on Madden 2003. Falcons QB Mike Vick broke his fibula in a preseason game and missed 11 weeks during the season in which he graced the cover. A season after appearing on the cover, Ravens LB Ray Lewis suffered a torn hamstring that ended his year.
Eagles QB Donovan McNabb was hobbled by a groin injury after he appeared on the cover of Madden 2006. Madden 2007 athlete Shaun Alexander suffered a broken foot just weeks after he made the game. Titans QB Vince Young's career went into quick decline after he was featured in 2008 (this, after LaDainian Tomlinson declined, fearing the curse).
Madden 2009 cover boy Brett Favre unretired after he was featured on the game, went to play for the New York Jets, got busted sending photos of his junk to a female employee, and never really regained the magic of his younger days. The 2010 game featured Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and Arizona WR Larry Fitzegrald on the cover. While Fitzgerald escaped without incident, Polamalu sprained his MCL in the first game of the season.
Drew Brees didn't get hurt after he was featured on the cover of Madden 2011, but he turned in a disappointing season and threw a career-worst 22 INTs that season. Peyton Hillis made the cover of Madden 2012 based on his breakout 1,177-yard season a year prior, but accumulated only 587 yards after he became the cover boy and missed six game that year.
Madden 2013 cover athlete Calvin Johnson turned in a career year, putting to rest some of the fears of a Madden Curse, but the following year Adrian Peterson was forced to shut it down early because of a foot injury. Last year, Richard Sherman graced the cover of Madden 2015 and, like Megatron, was unfazed by video game voodoo.
Two out of the last three years, the Curse seems dead. But you never know.
Beckham will wear the cover title for the next year, after he edged New England TE Rob Gronkowski for Madden 2016. Going into his sophomore year, ODB is primed for a letdown after emerging as one of the most dangerous receivers in the league and posting such gaudy numbers in only 12 games last season.
It almost seems too perfect that Beckham, who wears the unlucky No. 13, could be in line for a disaster season. He became the first rookie in NFL history last year to record more than 90 receptions (he had 91) and more than 10 TDs (he caught 12), including what some have called the greatest catch of all-time.
At least the Giants know if something happens to one of his hands, Beckham only really needs one to make plays.