Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson won the 2019 NFL MVP with a record-setting campaign. He became the first player in NFL history to pass for 3,000-plus yards and rush for 1,200-plus yards in the same season. His 1,206 yards is a new NFL record for rushing yards by a quarterback. 

Jackson led the NFL in passing touchdowns with 36 and led the Ravens to an NFL North Division title and the league’s best overall regular season record at 14-2.


Madden 21 - Lamar Jackson Cover Story ft. Lil Wayne | PS4


In 2020, Jackson will grace the cover of EA Sports Madden NFL 21. He is also one of the leading favorites to capture the 2020 NFL MVP. The funny thing about that is something known as The Madden Curse.

History of the Madden Curse

Eddie George, Daunte Culpepper, Marshall Faulk, Michael Vick. All were pretty good NFL players. All of them appeared on the cover of a Madden NFL video game. In their so-called “cover year,” each player’s performance took a tumble.

George set a career record for fumbles and never again averaged more than 3.4 yards per carry in his career. Culpepper threw for 33 touchdowns and went 11-5 in 2000. After appearing on the Madden NFL cover, Culpepper suffered through injuries, 16 fumbles, a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 14-to-13, and went 4-7 as a starter.

Faulk and Vick suffered similar fates. Prior to his cover season, Faulk had five straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons. In the cover year, Faulk missed six games and never rushed for over 1,000 yards again in his career.

Vick was the talk of the NFL, but just about a week after his Madden NFL cover was released Vick found himself with a fractured fibula. He played just five games that season and would end up in jail four years later.

There are more stories of the curse as well.

Donovan McNabb, Vince Young, even former Patriots and now Buccaneers TE Rob Gronkowski are among the cursed.

How will the curse affect the 2020 NFL MVP race

Recent History

In 2015, Gronkowski caught 72 passes for 1,176 yards and 11 TDs. He appeared on the Madden NFL cover and played just six games the following season catching a career-low 25 passes.

Patrick Mahomes broke out in his second NFL season in 2018 becoming just the second player in NFL history to pass for 5,000 or more yards and record 50 or more touchdown passes in the same season. The Chiefs quarterback won the league MVP.

Last year in 2019, Mahomes was once again the favorite to win the NFL MVP. In Week 7 against Denver, Mahomes went down with a dislocated kneecap. Miraculously, he did return after missing just two games, but his numbers compared to 2018 suffered. He did go on to take the Chiefs to the Super Bowl and win the game’s MVP.

Can Jackson Repeat?

Mahomes is the +600 favorite to win the 2020 NFL MVP with Jackson not too far behind at +750. Is a bet on Jackson worth it? The short answer is no, and for two reasons.

One, consecutive NFL MVP winners are rare.

The last player to do so was Peyton Manning in 2008 and 2009. Prior to Manning, it was Brett Favre in 1995 and 1996. The likelihood that Jackson will have another season like 2019 and win a second straight MVP is slim.

Two, the Madden Curse.

Peyton Hillis anyone? If you’re enough of a football fan to remember Hillis, he’s another curse victim. Somehow, Hillis managed a 1,000-yard rushing season in Cleveland. He appeared on the Madden cover, went on to miss six games, and became a journeyman backup the rest of his short-lived career.

The curse even got to Brett Favre and Drew Brees, both of whom threw career-highs in interceptions during their cover years.

Is the curse real?

Who knows, but Mahomes is the safe bet for this year’s MVP. If you’re looking for a longshot, try Arizona’s Kyler Murray at +1000. Murray won last year’s Rookie of the Year and he will now have WR DeAndre Hopkins to throw to in 2020.

About the Author

A native of Western Pennsylvania, Rick, a Generation X-er, who now lives just north of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. A former high school, college, and professional football player, Rick now spends his time as a high school coach and as a personal quarterback trainer. An all-state high school quarterback, he went on to become an Academic All-American at Division II Indiana University of PA. He later coached at his alma mater helping lead the program to the 1990 NCAA Division II national championship game. Rick has also served as a high school head coach and as an assistant in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan.

His passion for sports writing started when he was the sports editor for his high school newspaper and continued when he worked as a sportswriter for the Jamestown (New York) Post-Journal in the early 1990s. A true sports fanatic, Rick enjoys all things Pittsburgh: Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. The Immaculate Reception, the 1979 We Are Family Pirates, and the ’91-’92 Penguins are among his favorites. After working as an educator and athletic director for several years, he again took up sports writing and has contributed to several websites and publications, including Coach & Player magazine, X & O Labs, American Football Monthly, and many others.

When not consumed with coaching, watching, thinking about, or writing about football and other seasonal sports, he finds himself working out like he was still in college and reading everything from military history to Brad Thor novels. Rick has also been chasing rock god stardom as a drummer who has played with bands that have opened for the likes of Fuel, Days of the New, and Alien Ant Farm. He continues to play with his church worship group. Most importantly, Rick is married to the love of his life, Lisa, and has two beautiful daughters.

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