Is Favre Latest Madden Cover Jinx?

For the 20th-anniversary edition of its Madden videogame franchise, EA Sports wanted an NFL icon for the cover: Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre. On March 1, EA sent him an offer; the next day he accepted. Two days later he announced he was retiring. The timing, says EA marketing director Chris Erb, "was certainly funny." The notorious Madden "cover jinx"—which stung Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper and Donovan McNabb, all of whom suffered severe injuries the year they were cover boys—had struck again.

But then in July, Favre unretired, and suddenly the pick looked ingenious—even, dare we say, conspiratorial. Was EA in on the Favre flip-flop all along? "No," Erb says, "but we felt he might come back." They didn't anticipate, though, what happened next: the Packers no longer wanted Favre. Trade rumors ensued. Favre was headed to Minnesota, then Chicago, then Tampa Bay. EA scrambled, releasing screen shots online of Favre in various jerseys. Finally, on Aug. 7, five days before Madden '09 hit the shelves—too late for a recall—he was traded to the New York Jets. So on its Web site, EA posted a new, downloadable Jets roster featuring Favre. Jinx avoided? Only if he gets through the season in one piece.