Stargazing

Beware the Madden curse? Polamalu and Fitzgerald will find out

The Madden Curse is said to be the most reliable one in professional sports, bedeviling any player featured on the cover of EA Sports' Madden NFL.

So this year, there's double trouble afoot.

For the first time the game will feature not one but two players on the cover of Madden NFL10: Hot wide receiver

Larry Fitzgerald

of the Arizona Cardinals and strong safety

Troy Polamalu

of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The game debuts Aug. 14.

Gerald Villoria

at GameSpy was quick to present the evidence that both players better watch their backs, ankles, toes, ACLs and mouths this season. Here's part of Villoria's list of the trouble that curses Madden NFL cover boys:

1999:

Garrison Hearst

was the first player ever on the cover. After posting his best career year, he snaps his ankle, then makes inflammatory, homophobic statement to the press in 2002.

2000:

Barry Sanders

, a week before training begins, suddenly retires, even though he was closing in on

Walter Payton

's all-time rushing record.

Dorsey Levens

ends up on the game cover, only to be released by the Pack shortly thereafter. Ends career with a whimper.

2001:

Eddie George

fumbles in the playoffs, costing the Titans the game. Never had another 1,000 yard season. Nagging toe injury commonly blamed for performance issues.

2002:

Daunte Culpepper

posts his worst career year after being on the cover.

2003:

Marshall Faulk

, after winning two Super Bowls and making the cover, injures his ankle and misses five games, ending the season with under 1,000 yards.

2004:

Michael Vick

fractures his fibula in preseason and misses 11 games. Now he's doing time for doing bad things with dogs.

2006 -

Donovan McNabb

suffers a sports hernia in first game of the season and later suffers a torn ACL.

2009:

Brett Favre

comes of retirement to play for the NY Jets and injures his shoulder, keeping the Jets out of the playoff hunt.

| Lisa Gutierrez, The Star

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