There's been a buzz for the last few years as people have noticed the cover athletes featured on the annual Madden NFL releases have suffered unusual bad luck. Electronic Arts' cover announcement is highly anticipated each year, and the selected athlete typically considers it quite an honor. Donovan McNabb, pictured on the front of Madden 2006, is the latest to suffer from the supposed curse. On Monday night McNabb sustained a serious "groin injury" that will likely need surgery before long. Whatever luck the real life players sustain, EA is having a great time with its football franchises and exclusive NFL & AFL licenses. This year's Madden sold more than 1.7 million copies in its first week alone. In addition to its NCAA College game, it will debut two new series in the spring of 2006: Arena Football and NFL Heach Coach, a strategic fantasy football simulation. EA now controls 75% of the North American sports game market, up from 68% last year. Sports titles account for roughly a quarter of video games sold. EA shipped five titles for the new XBox 360 this week, bringing the number of platforms supporting Madden 06 to nine.
- Ray Lewis, Ravens, 2004 Season: The linebacker is probably the NFL's most-feared defensive player, but he breaks a wrist and plays below his own high standards.
- Michael Vick, Falcons, 2003 Season: The elusive Atlanta quarterback suffers a broken leg in the preseason and misses the first 11 games of the regular season.
- Marshall Faulk, Rams, 2002 Season: Regarded as the most-talented player in the NFL, the running back misses six starts and his stats drop off dramatically.
- Daunte Culpepper, Vikings, 2001 Season: The Minnesota quarterback misses the final five games of the season after he suffers a sprained left knee and has surgery.
- Eddie George, Titans, 2000 Season: The running back escapes injury. But Tennessee, a Super Bowl favorite, is ousted from the playoffs when he has a key fumble.