Curses! Madden '13 cover down to Final Four
Per the fan vote, your four final contenders for Madden cover boy are Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis.
The full, updated bracket is now available over at ESPN. It's Cam Newton vs. Patrick Willis in the, ummm, Left-handed Side of the Bracket Regional. The other bracket pits Aaron Rodgers against Calvin Johnson. The two finalists will be announced on April 18.
If you believe in the so-called "Madden Curse", gracing the cover of Madden '13 might be even unluckier than ever. After all, there will be a number "13" on the cover of that video game!
Whomever wins might as well just break a mirror and play drums for Spinal Tap.
If you don't believe in the so-called "Madden Curse", then consider some simple socio-economics that may be contributing to this phenomenon. The Madden cover boy receives bonuses and royalties from EA. Last year, CNBC's Darren Rovell reported that cover boy Peyton Hillis received $125,000 for making the cover -- and that's before a single unit was even sold.
That may not sound like much, but it is to lesser-known players and post-lockout rookies. Cam Newton's base salary last season was only $375,000. Yes, Newton was a No. 1 overall pick and also received a $15 million signing bonus.
But if it were Victor Cruz or Rob Gronkowski on the cover, that Madden bonus would account to the equivalent of 25-30% of his playing salary. These players then get additional endorsement opportunities, simply because they're on the Madden cover. When your Madden bonus rivals your annual salary, it's probably a distraction.
The player must also then embark on a week of public relations duties. autograph signings, and talk show appearances. For some, these may overlap with off-season team activities.
It's possible that guys like Troy Polamalu and Peyton Hillis suffered injuries because their Madden promotional schedule affected their off-season conditioning.
The winner will be announced on April 25 on ESPN's SportsNation at 5 p.m. EDT.
That's not the only bracket-related big news out of EA Sports today. In a separate vote, EA has been declared "The Worst Company in America" by the web site Consumerist.