Many feel Tom Brady’s Super Bowl LI win cemented his status as the greatest quarterback of all time, but now it’s official. With a spot on the Madden NFL 18 cover, Brady joins a fraternity of immortals that includes Peyton Hillis and Vince Young. It’s fitting: Like Brady, Madden video games are roughly the same every single year, and are still wildly successful.
Of course, this should be a major concern for Patriots fans. Last year Rob Gronkowski was on the cover of Madden, and Gronk suffered a back injury that ended his season after just eight games. It was such a cataclysm that the Patriots almost didn’t win the Super Bowl. He was the latest victim of the Madden curse, a plague that occasionally befalls those who are pictured on the game’s cover. We were safe for a few years there — Calvin Johnson, Richard Sherman, and Odell Beckham Jr. appeared on the game without having problems — but there have been plenty of examples. Michael Vick broke his leg, Donovan McNabb got hurt, Shaun Alexander fell off a football cliff, Adrian Peterson got suspended, and perhaps worst of all, Brett Favre got traded to the Jets.
Brady says he doesn’t believe in curses, smashing mirrors and walking under a ladder in a video released on Facebook to promote the cover announcement. But this is a situation the Patriots have prepared for. Last year, New England signed Martellus Bennett in the offseason, and perhaps you assumed it was because they wanted to run two–tight end sets. No — it’s because Bill Belichick prepares for every scenario. When Gronk got the Madden cover, Belichick knew he had to get a suitable backup, and it helped them win the championship.
And thus we have an explanation for the Patriots’ decision to hold on to Jimmy Garoppolo, letting the trade value for their talented backup quarterback disintegrate as other QB-weak teams drafted potential franchise quarterbacks. It’s not that they’re planning for a future beyond Brady’s retirement — after all, Brady says he’ll be playing until he’s 45 and Garoppolo would be able to leave in free agency well before then.
It’s because the Pats knew that Brady was going to be on the cover of Madden, and that there’s some circumstantial evidence that appearing on video game packaging seriously increases a player’s chances of suffering a season-ending injury. This might sound dumb, but the Patriots don’t take chances. My sources tell me that the reason the Patriots haven’t resigned LeGarrette Blount in spite of his NFL-leading 18 rushing touchdowns last year is because a black cat broke into his home and he tried to fend it off using an opened umbrella.
So congrats to Tom Brady on the honor, and to either Brady or Garoppolo on leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl next year. By the way, when I said the list of Madden cover athletes was a fraternity, Gronk really takes that seriously, so look out for that.