We're all familiar with the Madden curse. Seemingly every year the player(s) featured on the cover of EA's Madden NFL video game goes on to suffer a disappointing season. The Madden curse is one of the most reliable and consistent "curses" in existence. It's also barely a story now that it has proven itself year after year. We've come to expect it. Frankly, it's boring.
Move over, Madden curse. There's a new curse in town courtesy of Nike that has us all wearing tinfoil hats.
Nike released their "Fast is Faster" ad on their YouTube page on April 26, 2012. The ad is a cinematic masterpiece, combining star athletes with impressive visuals displaying their skills in dramatized situations.
Aesthetics aside, let's look at this with a curse in mind. We'll first look at which players are shown in the Nike ad in the order that they appear.
Marshawn Lynch is the first NFL player we see in this ad and he's also the player that's having the best season of the eight stars Nike featured. Through 14 games Lynch is averaging almost 100 rushing yards a game and has 10 scores to his name. To top it off, his Seahawks are 9-5 and making a big push for a playoff spot.
Lynch's success isn't enough to derail this curse.
Troy Polamalu is quickly becoming more well known for his Head and Shoulders commercials than he is for his play on the field. He has appeared in just five games for the Steelers so far this season due to a calf injury. When he has been fit to play, Polamalu hasn't been the intimidating force we've typically seen on the field, as proven by his interception total (zero) and his visibly slower play.
Our argument for the Nike curse is carried by Polamalu's injury but it reaches new heights thanks to Larry Fitzgerald and Darrelle Revis. Fitzgerald is having an absolutely horrible year, averaging just 48.1 yards a game in 2012 – a career worst. To make matters worse, the Arizona Cardinals are sitting comfortably at the bottom of the NFC West. As for Revis, we really don't need to say much aside from the fact he's on the New York Jets, one of the most comical teams (for all the wrong reasons) to play the game of football. You can't really blame the Jets' woes on Revis as he has only suited up for two games all season long thanks to a knee injury.
Calvin Johnson appeared on the cover of Madden 13 and appeared destined to be the next cursed athlete. Through 14 weeks, Johnson is averaging almost 120 yards a game. However, his touchdown numbers are way down and the Lions, a team many believed might be on the cusp of big things, have fallen off the map. You can make a decent argument that Johnson's play refutes both the Madden curse and our proposed Nike curse, but we'll just argue that his team's record (4-10) and the fact he has just five TDs through 14 games after averaging 14 TDs over the past two years as proof both curses are alive and well.
Like Darrelle Revis, it's not really kind to pile on LeSean McCoy. He's appeared in just 10 games this year. He's only found the end zone twice. His team has just four wins and are arguably the most disappointing NFL team this season. Do you really need to ask how he fulfills the Nike curse?
Alex Smith. Poor, poor Alex Smith. He has such optimism in the ad above, completely unaware that by this stage of the season he'd be benched behind a guy loaded up with tattoos.
We'll close on Ndamukong Suh, a guy that like fellow teammate Calvin Johnson has actually had a pretty decent year. You know, that is if you toss out all of Suh's unruly behavior, lack of discipline and constant fines. Oh, and if you forget that the Lions made the playoffs in 2011 only to have the carpet ripped out from under them in 2012.
It's also worth noting that the voiceover, which is terrifically executed, was performed by Giancarlo Esposito. Breaking Bad fans may know him as Gus Fring. We won't mention any spoilers from the show but let's just say the irony of using Esposito is rich.
There you have it. Eight NFL players entered Nike's "Fast is Faster" campaign. Only one appears to have left unscathed (Lynch). The other seven men have emerged with varying degrees of bad fortune. Is this enough proof to label Nike as the hottest curse in town? Stay tuned.
A tip of the tinfoil hat to Ben Koo, our fearless leader and curse monger.