Sherman doesn’t fear the Madden curse, but I do

Most NFL athletes will tell you team accolades take precedent over personal ones, settling on a go-to phrase like “Super Bowl or Bust.” That being said, there are few higher honors in professional football than that of gracing the cover of the Madden NFL 15 video game.

Fresh off a Super Bowl win, Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman has the best of both worlds. His team proved itself as the best in the nation, and he is the newest Madden cover athlete.

This part of Sherman’s fame, however, is both a blessing and a curse. For several years, Madden cover athletes have suffered injuries that are unrelated to the video game itself, yet eerie in nature. And so was born the “Madden curse,” which apparently causes no concern to Sherman.

“I don’t believe in curses,” he told ESPN. “I believe in God.”

Such an answer is not surprising. Not many players will admit they are superstitious enough to predict their own vulnerability in the upcoming season. Despite that, this situation should alarm Seahawks fans more than usual.

Think back to the last time a Seahawks athlete was featured on the Madden cover. Running back Shaun Alexander earned the accolade for Madden 07 following a season in which the team reached the Super Bowl and Alexander ran for 27 touchdowns and 1,880 yards. Sherman could be on track to meet Alexander in the history books, but not in a good way. The similarities of the two situations are hard to ignore.

Both players were coming off strong statistical performances that one might even call their best yet. Sherman picked off eight passes in both 2012 and 2013 and returned one of those for a touchdown in each of the two seasons. Alexander had rushed for more yards and scored more touchdowns than ever before.

Both Sherman and Alexander appeared on the Madden cover after Super Bowl runs. This isn’t unnatural, but it’s still worth noting. Each time was a first in its own way for the Seahawks franchise. Alexander led the team to its first Super Bowl appearance, while Sherman was an integral part of the Seahawks winning their first championship.

Perhaps the most interesting similarity between the two stars is the money they earned after their impressive seasons. Alexander signed an eight-year, $62 million contract that made him the highest-paid running back in the NFL at the time. Recently, Sherman was awarded a four-year, $57.4 million extension that makes him the highest-paid cornerback in the league.

The decline of Alexander began after he broke his foot during the following season. He was never the same again. He played not once in the 16 games from 2006 to 2008, never reached 1,000 rushing yards, and scored only 11 rushing touchdowns over those three years.

Sherman might not believe in the curse, but Seahawks fans ought to remember when the Madden cover made an example of Alexander.