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A Closer Look at NFL Curses: Drew Brees, Clay Matthews, Robert Griffin III and More

We’ve all heard of the Madden curse. There has been a disturbing trend of injuries and mediocrity following players getting cover spots for EA Sports’ Madden NFL Football for the past decade. However, it seems like any type of advertisement seems to be hurting NFL stars in the following seasons. Are there fates being doomed in the stars? Does the camera add ten pounds…of failure? Does Roger Goodell practice voo doo? Yes, yes he does, but I propose there are much simpler explanations as to why ads feature players that underperform in the subsequent seasons.

Drew Brees was clearly busy during the whole bounty-gate and hold out fiasco. Whether he’s getting his plate spilled on his suit for NFL Mobile©, keeping his kid from breaking windows on Chase©, showering with eye black on for Dove Men+Care©, catching “zzz’s” thanks to Vick’s©, leading a Saints chant for Verizon© even if Mario Williams didn’t like it, or singing and dancing in multiple Pepsi© spots with gender-bending teen heart throbs One Direction. This season, the Saints came out flat, (not just because of Brees mind you) lost their first four games, and will likely post their first losing season since 2007.

Clay Matthews is often seen in clips with QB’s, but it’s more often than not taking them to the ground. Matthews has stolen spots on both State Farm’s© discount double-check ad featuring teammate Aaron Rodgers, and also Brees’ NFL Mobile© ads. He fills the role of “guy you don’t want to piss off at the airport” very well in the Verizon© ads as well. He’s a FatHead© poster boy, and his ultimate claim to ad fame is with the Depends© adult diaper ads. He started the season a man on fire, but recently pulled a hammy at the worst possible time and will likely be missing a step heading into the playoffs. Hammy-stretch, Double-Check.

Troy Polamalu’s Head and Shoulders© ads are hilarious, missing ¾ of the season however is not very funny. Fellow teammate Brett Keisel’s Head and Shoulders© ad is equally funny, but the Steelers defensive struggles are far more demure. Maybe if Troy could get after the ball the way he got after his Coke Zero© then they would be in better situation. They sit firmly in second place behind the Ravens in the AFC North as they watch as the Baltimore Dark Knight rises.

RG 3’s adizero© ad is a 30 second work of art, but his shoes aren’t apparently light enough to keep him from spraining his LCL in his no-slide world where we all say “well, we knew that was going to happen” as he gets carted off the field. The kid is a phenom, and is really fun to watch, I just hope that adidas©, Subway©, and Gatorade© are paying him enough just in case his career is short.

Greg Jennings encourages us all to believe in our “smellfs”…from the Packer sidelines, as he and Ray Lewis star in Old Spice© ads that are funny albeit a little confusing. Did I mention that Ray is on the IR?

Larry Fitzgerald is a sad story. He’s like a McDonalds All-American on a middle school basketball team. He can be in all the Nike©, EAS©, IHOP©, University of Phoenix©, and ESPN© ads, but maybe if he took a break the NFL gods would bless him with a quarterback.

Not to say we all don’t love seeing NFL players on TV out of uniform, that’s hardly the case. The real answer is that marketing does well when people are wrapped up in something, namely here in the NFL season. That means the players you see in ads are often not busy in the weeks leading up to the season, especially the ones in a lot of them. Those players usually have some conflict that will effect team chemistry, timing, even fitness. I’m sure some of them are distracted from the game in the off season by worrying about their sponsors as well. I’m not sure if we can blame them for getting paid to say a few lines at the expense of their game, they are only human. Hang on, Megatron Calvin Johnson was on the Madden cover, did he get hurt? Or flop? Oh wait, that’s right, he’s not human.


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