Josh Allen is the Madden 24 cover athlete

Madden Cover Curse: Cash Out Your Bills Futures?

It’s official: Josh Allen will grace the cover of Madden 24. This is an exciting milestone for Bills Mafia, who have never seen their team represented on the popular video game’s packaging.

Between 2001, when Eddie George became the first Madden cover athlete, and 2018, when Allen was drafted, Buffalo made the playoffs just once, in 2017, when they lost 10-3 to Blake Bortles’ Jaguars in the Wild Card round.

The Madden Curse is internet folklore at this point, and fans often cringe when their favorite athlete is selected as the poster boy. Allen, tied for the lead in MVP odds at +700, has Super Bowl or bust expectations going into the season at +900 to lift the Lombardi Trophy – we’ll see if he is the latest victim.

Madden Cover Athletes
GameCover Athlete
Madden 24Josh Allen
Madden 23John Madden
Madden 22Patrick Mahomes/Tom Brady
Madden 21Lamar Jackson
Madden 20Patrick Mahomes
Madden 19Antonio Brown
Madden 18Tom Brady
Madden 17Rob Gronkowski
Madden 16Odell Beckham Jr.
Madden 15Richard Sherman
Madden 14Adrian Peterson/Barry Sanders
Madden 13Calvin Johnson
Madden 12Peyton Hillis

Curious about just how influential the Curse is, we decided to look at the past cover athletes and their performances following their Madden photoshoots. If you’ve got a Bills Super Bowl ticket, check out our findings before rushing to cash out. 

Cursed – Antonio Brown

Possibly the most damning evidence of the Curse of Madden is the post-cover career of Antonio Brown. Brown was named the Madden 19 cover athlete following a scorching 2017-18 season where he pulled in 101 receptions for a league-leading 1,533 yards.

Brown’s post-Madden season in 2018-19 was also quite productive as he eclipsed 100 catches once again and finished 11th in receiving yards.

The Madden Curse kicked in during Week 17 when he did not appear in a must-win game vs. the Cincinnati Bengals following a disagreement with the Steelers coaching staff.

The rest, as they say, is history and Brown now finds himself a “free agent” after spiraling out of control and burning every NFL bridge he had. This is quite possibly the all-time worst case of the Madden Curse. 

Cursed – Peyton Hillis

If you don’t think Antonio Brown is the most cursed cover athlete in Madden history, we introduce you to Peyton Hillis. Hillis amassed 1,654 scrimmage yards for the 5-11 Browns in 2010 as he won fantasy leagues for players who claimed him off of waivers.

The 2012 cover athlete was decided by a fan-voted bracket, and Hillis defeated Ray Rice, Matt Ryan, Jamaal Charles, Aaron Rodgers and Michael Vick to earn the nomination.

The 2008 seventh-round draft selection fizzled out just as quickly as he burst onto the scene, totaling fewer scrimmage yards in the next four seasons combined than he did in his 2010 campaign.

Hillis can at least tell family and friends that if not for the Madden Curse, he would have been a perennial All-Pro.

Cursed – Calvin Johnson

Megatron didn’t lose his mind or forget how to play football like some of his fellow members on the Madden Curse list, but his misfortune lay in the team that drafted him. The first-ballot Hall of Famer played nine seasons in Detroit, and the Lions made the playoffs just twice during his dominant tenure.

Blaming Madden for Johnson’s lack of team success may be unfair given that Detroit turned in an 0-16 season in his second campaign, years before Megatron was voted cover athlete. Based on the recent state of Detroit sports, there could be an entity much bigger than Madden behind Johnson’s bad luck.

Things do seem to be looking up for the Lions this year, as they are favored at +145 to win the NFC North for the first time ever.

Not So Cursed – Patrick Mahomes

Much like NFL defenses, the Madden Curse has been unable to stop Patrick Mahomes as he builds his Hall of Fame career. Mahomes has represented the Chiefs on two Madden covers – coincidentally the same number of Super Bowl rings and MVP trophies he has earned.

Barring an Antonio Brown-level collapse from KC’s superstar QB, it seems safe to rule out the Madden Curse in his case. The Chiefs are Super Bowl favorites at +600 this season, and Patrick Mahomes leads the way in MVP odds at +700. If a delayed Madden Curse is coming, the sportsbooks certainly don’t expect it.

Not So Cursed – Tom Brady

Tom Brady’s success in spite of his two Madden cover appearances shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, as even Father Time took 23 seasons to deal with the GOAT. It seems that the only beings more powerful than Brady and the Madden Curse are Eli Manning and Nick Foles.

Brady actually led the league in passing yards in both seasons following his Madden cover nominations. Curses clearly don’t work on this guy, and this trend actually suggests that rival AFC East fans should’ve tried cheering for Brady because praying on his downfall clearly does not work.