SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS

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Niners Fans May Want to Avoid Messing with the 'Madden' Curse

Linebacker Patrick Willis has made the second stage of voting to be on game's cover, so it might be time for fans to start voting ... against him

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Why take a chance on Patrick Willis getting hurt next season as part of the "Madden curse"? (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

    If you’re a San Francisco 49ers fan, you might want to go to ESPN.com over the next few days and cast a vote.

    It’s Round 2 of voting to find the next cover boy for the Madden NFL 13 video game, and one bracket matching pits Niners linebacker Patrick Willis vs. Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew. Willis won a first-round matchup over Bears running back Matt Forte (62 percent-38 percent), and if he wins this round – with voting through April 4 – he’ll move on to Round 3, with the semifinals to follow and the final-round of voting April 18-25 to determine the featured player on the cover of the next edition of the EA Sports game.

    Even if the Niners are your favorite team and Willis is your all-time favorite player, you might want to consider voting against him.

    Why take a chance, after all, that Willis or the Niners suffer the “Madden Curse” in 2012?

    Last year, Browns running back Peyton Hillis was featured on the cover, after a 2010 season in which he rushed for 1,177 yards and scored 11 TDs while playing a full season. This past season, he played just 10 games, scored only three TDs and rushed for just 587 yards.

    In the season following his cover appearance, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu suffered two serious injuries to miss nearly half the season. Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander, Eagles QB Donovan McNabb, Falcons QB Michael Vick, Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper and Lions running back Barry Sanders also were injured, suffered huge falls in production or -- in Sanders' case -- suddenly retired after being featured on the cover.

    And then there was 49ers running back Garrison Hearst, who was featured on the cover in 1999 after a terrific ’98 season (1,570 yards rushing) but then broke his ankle, missed two seasons and was never the same again.

    In a live chat with readers on ESPN Friday, Willis never brought up the curse, and neither did questioners.

    When he was asked if he thought he’d look good on the cover, however, Willis wrote:

    “I really haven’t thought about it. It would be amazing. Sometimes, people come up to me with pictures and it looks like I’m a skill position or something. I want to look like I’m in a LB stance. They’ll have to come up with something good. But I won’t complain.”

    Many fans, however, are aware of the curse. On one of the 49ers’ fan forums, there’s a thread titled “Do not vote for Patrick Willis.”

    Wrote one poster about this year’s voting: “This is hilarious. You can tell people are trying to vote against their superstars.”

    So, is being on the cover of the game box an honor or a curse?

    The answer is a question: Why take a chance?