Since the release of the best football video game in the history of the universe in the 1990s, Madden has enamored football fans every single year. With the cover player being featured on each new edition, the “curse” has been quite apparent over the last nine or ten seasons. From Vince Young in 2008, Peyton Hillis in 2012, Richard Sherman in 2015, and Rob Gronkowski in 2017, the curse has struck several times over the last decade, seemingly derailing the following season of the cover athlete. Whether it be due to injuries to the cover player, his quarterback, or simply poor performance (sorry Vince), the Madden curse may be looming again this season. Will it affect Antonio Brown?
Despite being just over halfway through the preseason, there have already been a few nicks and bruises that are affecting the Pittsburgh offense. Ben Roethlisberger had been sidelined for a few days with a minor concussion. Due to injury alone, Big Ben has consistently missed games over the last couple seasons, with the exception of 2017. In 2015, he missed four games due to multiple lingering injuries. The following season, he missed another two games due to a sprained AC joint in his shoulder.
Should Big Ben miss any more time in 2018, Antonio Brown would be catching passes from backup signal callers Mason Rudolph and/or Josh Dobbs, two blatantly obvious steps down from the two-time Super Bowl winning Roethlisberger. Were the backups receive a chance to play, it would also be possible for Juju Smith-Schuster and rookie James Washington to see a larger share of targets due to the likely better connection with both Rudolph and Dobbs. Both players possess an enormous amount of talent and are just waiting to explode onto the scene with a larger workload.
There is no denying the skill of the 2019 cover man. Antonio Brown is without a doubt a top-three receiver in the NFL, with Odell Beckham and DeAndre Hopkins occupying the other two spots. Brown has done nothing but torch opposing defenses for the past five seasons, averaging a ridiculous stat line of 171/116/1,569/10. He has caught over 100 passes in each of the previous five seasons, proving himself to be the most reliable receiver of recent memory. We know Brown’s ceiling is elite, and we know his floor of late has been relatively non-existent, but is a potential drop-off in his near future? The “tread on the tires” narrative usually follows running backs, but with Brown seeing almost 900 targets over the past five years, one has to wonder if it is beginning to take a toll.
The curse has taken its toll on several of the previous cover athletes, so based on the trend, it is due to strike again sooner or later. Should a trade offer arrive in your inbox where Brown is leaving your squad, consider it strongly should the value be close. If a package in a Dynasty league such as Corey Davis, Courtland Sutton, and Tevin Coleman, three players who will likely see massive bumps in value, were to be offered, it might be enough for me to part with the next possible Madden curse victim, Antonio Brown.