NFL Nation: Madden 15 cover

It’s a nice honor to grace the "Madden 15" video game cover, but superstitious Seattle Seahawks fans who believe in the curse associated with the cover winner probably wish someone other than Richard Sherman had won.

Since players first starting appearing on the cover of the video game in 2000, a lot of bad things have happened to the man selected.

Sherman isn’t buying it.

“I don’t believe in curses,” he said. “I believe in God.”

I’m not one to believe in a jinx or curse, either, but the evidence speaks for itself. Call it a strange coincidence or bad luck.

Barry Sanders surprisingly retired the year he was on the cover. Green Bay running back Dorsey Levens was added to later covers that year, but he injured a knee that season and played in only five games.

Minnesota quarterback Dante Culpepper suffered a season-ending injury after appearing on the cover.

Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick was the cover player for the 2004 version. Do I even need to explain this one?

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb mocked the curse the year he was on the cover, saying it “might be a trend, but I don’t believe in the curse at all.”

In the first game that season, McNabb suffered a hernia and groin pull, eventually having surgery that ended his season.

Heck, there is even a former Seahawks player associated with the so-called curse. Running back Shaun Alexander was on the cover the season after the Seahawks made their first Super Bowl appearance. Alexander broke his foot in the third game that year and missed six games.

Tennessee quarterback Vince Young was the next man on the cover, and went on to become one of the biggest first-round quarterback busts ever.

Quarterback Brett Favre was on the cover the year after he retired in Green Bay, but unretired to join the New York Jets, tore a biceps muscle and finished the season with only two touchdown passes and nine interceptions.

And how about Cleveland running back Peyton Hillis? The year after rushing for 1,177 yards, he made the cover, and frankly, has never been the same player. He never has come close to those numbers while playing for three teams since.

But let’s end with a positive note, namely Megatron. Detroit wide receiver Calvin Johnson was lights-out awesome after appearing on the "Madden" cover. He broke or tied nine NFL receiving records and led the NFL in receiving yards, surpassing Jerry Rice’s single-season mark.

Time will tell how Sherman fares, but it’s clear he isn’t worried about it.
Carolina Panthers first-round draft pick Kelvin Benjamin smiled bashfully when asked if he had played quarterback Cam Newton in the Madden video football game.

"Ok, I've got to confess," the former Florida State wide receiver said this week. "He beat me."

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound rookie paused, then added, "He beat me bad. He beat me by 21 points."

Newton prides himself on having a lethal pair of thumbs when it comes to the video game, but that wasn't enough to get him past Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman in the "Madden 15" cover vote finals that ended Friday.

Sherman won fairly convincingly, denying Newton in the finals for the second time since the Panthers made him the first pick of the 2011 draft.

At least it didn't come down to a few votes. Then Newton could have blamed head coach Ron Rivera, who told he voted for "the opposition" multiple times because he wanted to avoid the curse that often befalls the cover winner.

The good news for Newton is he is only 25, so there will be other opportunities to grace the cover.

That he has made the cover vote finals twice also is good news. That means he's popular among the fans and considered the face of the Carolina organization even if he's not the face of Madden.

That is a positive for a player who, until Carolina's 12-4 2013 season, was questioned about whether he could come out from under his Gatorade towel on the sideline and be a leader.

And win.

Winning on the field is what it's ultimately about, which is why Rivera didn't want to take any chances with the cover curse. Newton would admit the same.

Spending time on and off the field with Benjamin while he recovers from offseason ankle surgery will help that cause.

"We're just building that trust, letting him know that I'll be there always ... bad ball, good ball, I'll make it right," said Benjamin, who spent the Memorial Day Weekend at Newton's home in Atlanta.

But you know Newton wanted the cover badly. Even Benjamin could see that.

"I voted for him, so I really want him to make it on the cover," he said when the vote remained in question. "I think he would be so happy. He's a big Madden fan."