April 24, 2012 at 10:27 pm Lions' Calvin Johnson doesn't fear the 'Madden curse' By Rod Beard
The Detroit News Calvin Johnson: "You’ve been hearing about the curse forever." (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
Allen Park — Lions receiver Calvin Johnson doesn't fear many things.
He's not afraid to go across the middle of a defense with ferocious linebackers bearing down him. He has no fear of a safety running with a full head of steam toward him as he leaps for a pass between two defensive backs.
And he's not afraid of the "Madden curse."
Johnson will find out Wednesday if he'll grace the cover of EA Sports' new "Madden 13" video game. The winner of the week-long fan voting will be announced at 5 p.m. on ESPN2's "SportsNation" show.
Johnson is a finalist, along with Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, to have his likeness on the game's cover — and to challenge the perceived curse, which many fans believe has led to injury or a significant drop in production.
"I'm not a big guy for curses and I don't even think about it," Johnson said Tuesday. "It's not surprising because you've been hearing about the curse forever. It doesn't surprise me; I hear about it from the fans."
Despite the potential notoriety and honor, being on the cover is not a win-win proposition for Johnson. In fact, it might even be the opposite.
"Most fans want me to get on it because it's a lot of good things for the city. Some fans don't want it — those are the big football fans, but it's going to be good either way."
Johnson is coming off the best season of his career, with 96 catches for 1,681 yards and 16 touchdowns. Johnson has formed one of the best QB-WR tandems in the league with Matthew Stafford, who passed for more than 5,000 yards last season.
Those numbers have some fans thinking that Johnson could defy the Madden curse. Despite all the hoopla about the jinx, Johnson sees being in the finals as a good opportunity for himself and his Calvin Johnson Jr. Foundation, which would get a donation from EA Sports if he wins.
"I'm looking forward to it. It would be very cool to have that. It'd be good for the city, this organization and my foundation," Johnson said. "It's definitely a lot of monetary support that comes from EA and doing things with them that's going to help my foundation tremendously."
The competition began with 64 players in a bracket-style tournament. Johnson was a No. 6 seed and in the earlier rounds beat Chiefs receiver Dwayne Bowe, Texans running back Arian Foster and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski before upsetting Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the semifinals.
Newton stirred the pot in the competition when he created a YouTube video in which he challenged Johnson to play a game of Madden.
Johnson doesn't play Madden as much as he used to.
"Everybody played Madden coming up. Everybody saw all the guys that were on the cover," Johnson said. "I remember when I was in college, I was a big Madden player. It's a big deal for ball players."
Since college, though, Johnson admits that he doesn't play much Madden, but finds time for other games.
"I'm not the best (at Madden); I play rarely. I play the real thing (football)," Johnson said. "I'm more of a FIFA guy … more of a soccer guy."
Though he probably won't accept Newton's challenge to play, Johnson said he would be putting together a response to Newton's video.
"Don't worry — I've got something for that. Just leave it at that — we've got something for that," he said. "Everybody likes to call me out but I don't have to call anybody out. For what? We receivers in general have something we'll put out there." Madden covers
1998: John Madden
1999: 49ers RB Garrison Hearst
2000: Lions RB Barry Sanders / Packers RB Dorsey Levens
2001: Titans RB Eddie George
2002: Vikings QB Daunte Culpepper
2003: Rams RB Marshall Faulk
2004: Falcons QB Michael Vick
2005: Ravens LB Ray Lewis
2006: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb
2007: Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander
2008: Titans QB Vince Young
2009: Packers/Jets QB Brett Favre
2010: Steelers S Troy Polamalu / Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald
2011: Saints QB Drew Brees
2012: Browns RB Peyton Hillis
From The Detroit News: http://www.detroitnews.com/article/2012 ... z1t2uI8Fa2