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This year’s Madden Curse recipient to be chosen by fans

Although the NFL season may be in jeopardy of a lockout, the show must go on—or at least the show must go on for EA and the upcoming Madden release. As the negotiations continue to go nowhere between the NFL players and owners, one of the many victims of a potential lockout will be EA, who stand to lose a substantial amount if fans choose to skip buying the next Madden game.

But don’t cry for the poor multi-billion dollar EA. The publisher managed to negotiate a new deal that has a windfall for the company if the season is locked out and Madden 12 suffers because of it. The title has been in development since even before Madden 11 was released, so it will be released regardless. However, it isn’t clear how Madden 12 will handle the players in the game, and even if the current roster of players is used, certain highly touted features including weekly roster updates will obviously have to be modified or removed.

But, with luck the season will still proceed, and the current worst-case scenarios will all be rendered academic. EA is hoping so, and a new contest has begun to determine which athlete is honored by being featured on the cover–or cursed, depending on your point of view.

The Madden Curse is something that has been joked about for years, and yet it is eerily consistent in its treatment of cover stars. Without fail, something has happened to each of the athletes on the cover of the game, whether it be a serious injury or just a poor season. It looked as if the curse had finally been broken with Madden 11, as the cover athlete Drew Brees had a solid season… right up until his defending Super Bowl champions Saints were bounced from the post-season by the Seattle Seahawks, arguably the worst playoff team in history. Actually it isn’t even all that arguable, since the Seahawks were the only team ever to make the playoffs with a losing record. Some may call it the curse, others may call it coincidence.

Regardless, it is a new year, and a new cover athlete is due to wear the target. But this year, rather than simply picking the person to adorn the cover–and thus possibly doom that athlete–EA and ESPN have teamed up to allow the fans of the series to choose which player might next be horribly injured or have a disappointing season. A bracket has appeared on ESPN’s website, which features a March Madness-style selection grid, where 32 players will be narrowed down to just one.

So head online and vote for your favorite players! Or head online and vote for the player you would most like to see have a horrible season! The voting is open now, and the first round winners will be announced on Monday March 28. The voting will continue through April 27, and the winner will be announced following that, although no official date for that announcement has been given.