I've said it before, I'm a total sucker for lists. "5 Best This." "8 Worst That." "9 Reasons So-and-so Boned Such-and-such." List it and I'm in.
Some will criticize this, and call it a sign of a lazy mind, that I need my world assembled in some subjective yet quantitative form in order to consume it. Fine, whatever. It's for this same reason that I love brackets.
During the month of March, because (a) we're generally lazy and (b) it's March Madness, brackets temporarily become the new lists. So, fresh off voting for the "Sexiest Woman Alive" earlier this morning, I came across a bracket on ESPN SportsNation (go figure) to choose who would grace the cover of Madden 2012.
Thoughts immediately began to race through my head:
1. Obviously, the Madden Curse is the first thing you think about when the Madden cover is discussed, like the billy goat or Bartman when you talk Cubs baseball or Ted McGinley when you discuss sitcoms. Since 1999, virtually every player to appear on the cover has sustained everything from a season-ending injury (multiple players) to eventual incarceration (Michael Vick). Players have declined offers to be on the cover for this very reason. So, as a Texans fan, this immediately makes several of the Madden bracket "matchups" relevant, not the least of which is Andre Johnson versus Chris Johnson as a 6 versus 11 seed (more on this in a minute).
2. Um, we're in danger of there not being a 2011 season, right? So theoretically since none of these players exist right now due to the lockout (think Marty McFly vaporizing on his family photographs in Back to the Future), does that mean the bracket would just default to the Seattle Seahawks' 12th man?
3. What in the blue hell is the Seahawks' 12th man (which is code for "their really loud, liquored-up fans") doing on the bracket, much less as a ten seed?
4. I don't root for injuries. That's not the humane thing to do. However, accepting that Madden-induced injuries are a part of life, I need to think strategically with my ballot -- what selections (and subsequent career-threatening boo-boos) will most help the Texans next season (assuming there is a season)?
So without further ado, my Madden 2012 ballot (with reasons):
1 Aaron Rodgers vs 16 Ndamukong Suh VOTE: SUH. I like Ndamukong Suh. I've had the chance to meet him a couple times, and he's a great dude. He did recently say that he thought that his Lions could go 16-0 next season. So I'm going to go ahead and give him his first dose of victory. If he can somehow carry the Lions to 16-0 AND do it while on the cover of Madden 2012, well, that's like hitting a hole in one...left-handed...blindfolded.
8 Sam Bradford vs 9 Larry Fitzgerald VOTE: FITZGERALD. Bradford missed his entire senior year with a shoulder injury AND was drafted by the Rams in the same calendar year. Hasn't he suffered enough?
5 Hakeem Nicks vs 12 Brian Orakpo VOTE: NICKS. This is a vote done strictly out of fear that trying to put a former Longhorn on the Madden cover might get my car windows punched out in the parking lot.
4 Danny Woodhead vs 13 Steve Johnson VOTE: JOHNSON. When he dropped a pass that would have won a game late last season, Johnson immediately took to his Twitter account and started dog cussing God. I have a rule to always side against the guy dog cussing God. Sorry Johnson.
3 Maurice Jones-Drew vs 14 Dwight Freeney VOTE: FREENEY. It doesn't really matter, whoever moves on to the next round is getting my vote then. If the Texans were the Karate Kid, Jones-Drew and Freeney would easily be two of the Kobra Kai skeletons.
6 Jamaal Charles vs 11 Tim Tebow VOTE: TEBOW. I want to see just how otherworldly Tebow's healing powers are. We've seen him circumcise babies in the Congo; now can he magically reassemble his own anterior cruciate ligament? Only one way to find out -- vote Tebow.
7 Ray Rice vs 10 Peyton Hillis VOTE: HILLIS. A white running back on the cover of Madden 2012. This is a day my people have dreamed of.
2 Matt Ryan vs Jordan Gross VOTE: GROSS. The Texans play the Falcons this season, so I should be voting for Ryan to make the cover (They play Carolina, too, but quarterbacks are more important.), but there's a huge part of me that wants to see an offensive lineman on the cover of Madden, if for no other reason than to see kids in the stores asking their parents, "Dad, who the hell is this guy?" ______________________________________________
1 Philip Rivers vs 16 Darren McFadden VOTE: RIVERS. The easiest vote on the board. Why? This video pretty much says it...
8 Julius Peppers vs 9 Adrian Peterson VOTE: PETERSON. The slavery comment from Peterson was out of line. Since the league can't dole out justice, I'll do it here. Get ready for a lingering hammy, AD!
5 Mark Sanchez vs 12 Jake Long VOTE: SANCHEZ. Making the streets safer for 17-year-old girls everywhere.
4 Drew Brees vs 13 Josh Freeman VOTE: BREES. Texans have both of these teams on the schedule next year. Freeman will probably throw for 350 yards. Brees will probably throw for 500. Let's make sure we get Brees out of there.
3 Michael Vick vs 14 DeMarcus Ware VOTE: VICK. This one's for you, Snoopy. (Picture me bumping my chest with a fist, kissing two fingers and pointing tearfully at the sky.)
6 Andre Johnson vs 11 Chris Johnson VOTE: CHRIS JOHNSON. What, no Cortland Finnegan to go against Dre? Did the person putting this together have NO sense of humor?
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Speaking of humor, click this musical plea from 1560 Program Director Chance McClain to NOT vote for Andre Johnson. It's a must listen.
7 Patrick Willis vs 10 Seattle's 12th Man VOTE: 12th MAN. Only because I want to see how the Madden Curse would affect an entire city of fans. Would there be some sort of virus like in the movie Outbreak where Seattle eventually gets quarantined and the president is forced to issue an "Operation Clean Sweep" order?
2 Hines Ward vs 15 Carlos Dunlap VOTE: DUNLAP. Inflict Madden Curse on wide receiver who intimated that a Dancing with the Stars appearance would wash away some of the pain of losing the Super Bowl, or inflict that pain on a defensive lineman who passed out in the middle of the intersection drunk behind the wheel in college? It's close...closer than you'd think...
Listen to Sean Pendergast on 1560 The Game from noon to 3PM weekdays and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.