When Patrick Mahomes was announced as the cover athlete for Madden 22 alongside Tom Brady, Kansas City Chiefs fans feared the possibility of their talented quarterback falling victim to the infamous “Madden Curse,” a superstitious belief that athletes featured on the cover art will endure a significant decline of performance or suffer from injuries the following season, hampering the Chiefs playoff chances.
But after first appearing as the cover athlete for Madden 20, the “Madden Curse” was short-lived on Mahomes, who recovered from a knee injury quicker than anticipated and led the Chiefs to their second Super Bowl victory over the San Francisco 49ers while earning SB MVP honors. Mahomes completely dispelled any speculation or doubts regarding the “Madden Curse."
Fast forward two years, Mahomes once again starred as the cover athlete alongside Brady, in an artwork dubbed as his introduction to the G.O.A.T discussion. That season, Mahomes continued his dominance and ended the lingering myth of the “Madden Curse,” proving that it had no effect on his play.
In just his fifth season in 2021, Mahomes solidified himself as the face of the NFL while representing one of the most exciting teams in recent memory, shattering records across Kansas sports betting and joining exclusive clubs comprised of the best signal callers in league history.
But in terms of best seasons after a player appears on the Madden cover art, where does his 2021 season compare to the campaign of other players that have graced the front page of the video game?
Still Trailing The GOAT
One would back that Mahomes is expected to produce the best season. However, there is one particular name that remains ahead of him on this list. And to no one’s surprise, he continues to pursue this player’s accolades relentlessly.
Following the announcement of Josh Allen as the Madden 24 cover athlete, BetKansas.com, your home to Kansas sports betting apps, utilized Pro-Football-Reference.com's approximate value stat to determine which athletes have had the most productive seasons immediately after gracing the cover.
We excluded John Madden, who has been on the cover 12 times, and Barry Sanders, who was retired while on the cover for Madden 25 (2014). Sorry for the reminder, Lions fans.
Madden Cover Athletes with the Best Seasons
Based on the 2021 season, Mahomes by our methodology had an approximate value of 18 points, tied with the likes of Lamar Jackson, Richard Sherman, and Ray Lewis for the second best mark behind Brady in 2018. The signal-caller led the Chiefs to a 12-5 record, winning the AFC West division for the sixth consecutive year and reached their fourth straight conference championship appearance. He's the biggest reason the Chiefs Super Bowl odds are +650 over at BetMGM Kansas currently.
Those team accomplishments are evident through the contributions of Mahomes. The star quarterback threw for 4,839 yards, third most of his career, along with 37 touchdowns and only 13 interceptions. His 66.3% completion rate was also the third-highest of his career.
The Chiefs would find themselves hosting and falling in the AFC Championship game against the Cincinnati Bengals, following a historic comeback led by Joe Burrow. The Bengals erased a 21-3 halftime deficit to beat the Chiefs 27-24 in overtime and face the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LVI.
The only individual who has had a better season after an appearance as the cover athlete of Madden, is, you guessed it, Tom Brady. Arguably the greatest football player to ever exist still tops Mahomes’ Madden cover season. That alone will add fuel to the fire as Mahomes has another item to scratch off his to-do list.
To follow up with the Chiefs’ upcoming season and the best Kansas sports betting promos, keep tabs with BetKansas.com.