In 2017, there are few experiences more terrifying than checking the news each morning. You never know whether you’ll wake up to a fresh threat of nuclear annihilation or to the President of the United States having a Twitter-based, real-time meltdown worse than James Harden’s performance in Game 6 against the Spurs.
Friday morning was no exception. We were blessed with another Trump come-apart, and, while we didn’t have to read about a North Korean missile heading for the United States, Patriots fans were faced with something arguably worse: the news that Tom Brady will grace the cover of Madden 2018.
For those of you confused as to how this would be a bad thing, let me explain: Some conspiracy theorists believe that if a player appears on the plastic case* of EA Sports’ popular NFL video game, that player will have a bad season. They call it the Madden Curse. Because, once you become a Madden Guy, Madden Guys often either suffer an injury, like Shaun Alexander in 2007 or Donovan McNabb in 2006, or just start to suck, a la Vince Young in 2008.
*I don’t know how video games work, but why are we still packaging them? Aren’t we supposed to be streaming everything now? It’s 2017. We have robots for this shit.
A hypothetical Tom Brady injury or the start of his slow decline into non-G.O.A.T.ness (a slide which will inevitably happen, despite the man’s best attempt to travel a wheatgrass-based, gluten- and sugar-free path to eternal youth) are the two worst things that could happen to a Patriots fan. Second only to Bill Belichick losing the horcrux — yes, that’s a Harry Potter joke, deal with it — in which his Dark Football Lord powers reside.
A Brady cover is made even more terrifying to New England Patriots patriots because the region’s beloved large adult son, Rob Gronkowski, held the honor last year — and subsequently spent most of last season with a busted-up back.
The reason I’m telling you all of this — which if you’re reading a sports website, you probably already know — is because I want to be sure that I have all the legal documentation necessary to put forth my conspiracy theory about the conspiracy theory.
Here it is: I think Madden is doing the curse stuff on purpose, this year at least.
Because at this point, there’s no way the video game nerds over at EA Sports (no offense, EA Sports nerds) don’t know exactly what they’re doing. Even as a Patriots fan, I have to commend them: The strategy is absolutely brilliant. With Patriots players on the cover in two years in a row, they’ve galvanized a fan base of righteous and obnoxious Pats fans (@ me, I don’t even care) to rally around their heroes, beat their blue and red chests, and cry out, “BRADY WILL BE THE ONE TO DEFY THE CURSE!”
Even Brady himself said so.
Meanwhile, NFL fans outside of New England, most of whom hate the Patriots, are like, “Please, for the love of God, let this curse be a real thing.” And with Brady, Madden has set itself up to deliver on that better than it could with any other player.
I say this because, at 39, Brady is no spring chicken; the odds of injury or declining levels of play do increase with age, no matter how pliable he keeps his muscles.
There are also the far-off rumblings of a potentially thunderous trade: Tom Curran over at CSNNE put together a coherent argument for the possibility of Brady being shipped off to another team on a funeral pyre sometime in the near future. (In fact, Curran’s exact words were: “the pyre has been built.”)
Brady has even acknowledged this possibility: He knows the Patriots are the most cold-blooded organization in sports. They’re not going to risk losing Jimmy Garoppolo, potentially their next franchise quarterback, just to save their current — but not forever — king.
In short: The slow and cruel march of time implies that the story of the next few years probably won’t end with Brady still at the top of his game in a Patriots jersey (although I would love to be proved wrong about that). So no matter the outcome, people can point to the plastic box and exclaim — “it was the Madden curse!”
Given that no publicity is bad publicity, the more cursed the video game, the more it sells.
EA Sports nerds, you are beautiful, evil geniuses.