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Is there an EA video game cover jinx?

By Josh Zelman
CNN Headline News

EA Sport's "Madden 2004" with the Altanta Falcon's QB Michael Vick on the cover.

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(CNN) -- Computers, cell phones, cars, and consoles -- just about everywhere you turn these days video games are staring you in the face.

And while it might be tempting for an athlete to seek a slice of the multibillion dollar pie, the payout for doing so could be a season on the brink.

Just take a look at what's happened to these gridiron players. All were cover boys for the best selling John Madden series of football games by Electronic Arts.

2004 cover: Michael Vick -- Quarterback, Atlanta Falcons

Before cover: 24 touchdowns, almost 3,000 yards passing, more than 700 yards rushing

After cover: Broke leg in preseason, yet to play this season

2003 cover: Marshall Faulk -- Running Back, St. Louis Rams

Before cover: 21 touchdowns, more than 2,000 total yards

After cover: 10 touchdowns, fewer than 1,500 total yards

2002 cover: Daunte Culpepper -- Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings

Before cover: 16 games, 40 touchdowns

After cover: 11 games, 19 touchdowns

2001 cover: Eddie George -- Running Back, Tennessee Titans

Electronic Arts
Video Games

The star of John Madden 2001 was no different. George registered a dramatic decline in rushing and receiving yards a year after putting his mug on EA's popular football franchise.

So what explains the so-called "EA jinx?" EA didn't have any comment and Bryan Intihar, associate editor with Electronic Gaming Monthly, told me he couldn't really explain it.

However, before you stop putting EA stars on your fantasy football list, remember, "the curse" isn't proprietary to Electronic Arts.

After all, anyone familiar with what happens to athletes who grace the covers of Sports Illustrated or cans of Campbell's Chunky Soup should be familiar with this.

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