The Madden Curse has struck again, and this time it hit a man thought untouchable.

Every year since Madden 2000, the athlete featured on the game’s cover has fallen from grace, usually due to injury. It happened to Faulk, Vick, and Culpepper. It laid low Ray Lewis, Donovan McNabb and Shaun Alexander. It even gave Vince Young his first career game missed due to injury. It’s called the Madden Curse.

Perhaps it’s all superstition, or perhaps the super-stars who make the cover are just unable to maintain the level of greatness that got them on the cover. Either way you look at it, the Madden Curse is a disturbing trend.

It looked like the curse would be put to rest in an ingenious way in 2009. Put a retired guy on the cover. But the fabled quarterback Brett Favre just couldn’t stay retired. And, now that he’s playing for the Jets, will he suffer the same fate? Will his glorious resurrection be heralded as a Phoenix rising? Or will he merely burn out like so many superstars who can’t give up the game?

Or has the curse already been cast? Hit the jump for some superstition speculation.

With Favre retired after a spectacular year, it looked like the golden boy of Green Bay would make the perfect cover athlete. Everyone loved him, even if they hated him, as the good ol’ boy of Green Bay, he was one of those athletes everyone could respect. And the curse would hurt no one, it seemed, as Favre would not have another season to screw up.

But now that’s changed. Favre has caused a sport sensation by coming out of retirement, drawing the ire of long time admirers and putting himself in the spotlight in a negative way for perhaps the first time.

In a way, this is the most insidious form the Madden Curse has ever taken. The people of Green Bay are torn, their shining idol has fallen faster than that statue of Saddam, and in the end no one on either side has come away unscathed.

The team management will be reviled for cutting Favre loose, and Favre’s legacy has already been tainted by the bizarre drama that has unfolded this summer. As a New York Jet, he’ll likely go from messiah to pariah before anyone has a chance to throw the red flag and view the replay. Number 4, who had MVP-worthy season, taking his Packers to the NFC Championship Game, will now be playing for a team that won only four games last year.

Maybe its time to go back to putting John Madden on the cover.