Vick, Hillis could be doubly cursed

Michael Vick and Peyton Hillis didn’t have a lot in common at the start of their pro football careers. One was an explosive, exciting quarterback out of Virginia Tech and a top NFL draft pick. The other was a bruising fullback out of Arkansas who blocked for Darren McFadden and wasn’t highly touted coming out of college.

Fast forward to the here and now, and this seemingly odd couple suddenly has a lot of similarities. Both had breakout seasons in 2010 and became legitimate superstars in fantasy football. They’re also the final two players left in the voting to see who dons the cover of Madden ’12.

Vick and Hillis also have another thing in common — neither is very likely to duplicate their 2010 success.

The eventual cover athlete for the popular video game almost always suffers either a serious injury or a decrease in their level of production between the white lines. It’s known universally as the Madden curse.

Vick is no stranger to this hex — he was on the cover of Madden 2004, sustained a broken right fibula in a preseason game and was forced to miss the first 11 regular-season contests. He was able to make five starts down the stretch, but Vick finished with just 585 passing yards, 255 rushing yards and five scores.

When you also consider that players coming off career seasons almost never duplicate that same level of success the following year, well, it’s clear that Vick and Hillis have a tough task ahead for 2011.

I’m not saying that I would pass on either player in the right circumstances (I’m not that superstitious), but fantasy owners do need to temper their expectations with this pair of players — especially the one who is voted as the new Madden cover boy. The announcement to reveal the winner is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27.

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