In 2000, Daunte Culpepper was a shooting star in Minnesota by being named starter and then winning his first seven games at quarterback. He passed for nearly 4000 yards and 33 touchdowns with only 16 interceptions, but also ran for another seven touchdowns while covering more than 450 yards on the ground. His huge linebacker-like physique and speed made him a threat on every play, and he led his team to the NFC Championship during an 11-5 season. As a reward for an excellent season, he was featured on the cover of Madden in 2001.
During the 2001 season, though, Culpepper’s season was a complete 180 from the year before. After posting a record of 4-7 as starting QB, he was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury. His team missed the playoffs after having nearly made it to the Super Bowl only a year prior. In 2002, Culpepper posted the worst passer rating of his career with 23 interceptions and only 18 touchdowns. In 2004, Daunte posted career numbers that would have earned him the MVP trophy during any other year, but it was unfortunately the year that Peyton Manning set the single-season touchdown record with 49. Culpepper’s bout with the curse may be over, but fans are eager to see what he does in his new home down in Miami with the Dolphins.
Perhaps the greatest piece of the “Greatest Show on Turf,” Marshall Faulk was selected for the cover of Madden 2002 after his St. Louis Rams made it to the Super Bowl, losing in the last seconds on an Adam Vinitari field goal. Faulk was the APs Offensive Player of the Year for his versatility as a running back and receiver. Marshall Faulk, was, and is, a shoe-in for the Hall-of-Fame.
2002 marked the slow beginning of the end for Faulk’s career. After appearing on the cover of Madden, his production was lessened considerably. He also suffered an ankle sprain and was sidelined for six games. Faulk failed to reach 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in seven seasons, ending his reign as the most potent offensive weapon in the league. The Rams, realizing Faulk’s age and increasing injury issues, drafted Steven Jackson to succeed him. Knee and ankle problems kept Faulk from his MVP-form for the remainder of his career. After failing to recover fully from knee surgery this past off-season, Faulk is questionable to return to playing football after the 2006 season, and has taken a position as an analyst with the NFL Network for this year. Aging, and not the Madden Curse, could be the demise of Faulk’s career, but the compiling list of ruined seasons is too hard to ignore.