Madden NFL 13 (Xbox 360, PS3, Wii) features Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions on the cover. (

One National Football League player I’m watching closely this season is Calvin Johnson, the fabulous wide receiver for the Detroit Lions.

Why? It’s not because Johnson led the NFL in receiving yards last season with 1,681 yards. Or because he has a cool nickname — Megatron — that makes him sound like a superhero.

No, I’m keeping an eye on Johnson because he’s on the cover of this season’s Madden NFL 13 video game.

I don’t usually talk about video games. I think kids should play games where they move their whole bodies, not just their thumbs. But the Madden game is interesting because folks say there’s a curse on the game! They say the player on the cover is doomed to have a bad season.

When you look at some of the players who have been on the Madden game cover, it makes you think.

Brett Favre handout image (Brett Favre handout image)

Last year, Cleveland Browns star running back Peyton Hillis was on the cover of Madden 12. Sure enough, Hillis had a bad season. His rushing yards dropped from 1,177 to just 587, and he scored only three touchdowns.

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees had a terrific season the year before, when he was on the cover of Madden 11. But the Seattle Seahawks upset his team in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

There’s more. Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis and quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Michael Vick all were injured during the season they were on the cover of the Madden game.

Quarterbacks Brett Favre (Madden 09), Vince Young (Madden 08) and Daunte Culpepper (Madden 02) had terrible seasons in which they threw loads of interceptions when they appeared on the game’s cover.

Now, I don’t believe in curses. After all, baseball fans said the Boston Red Sox were cursed because they hadn’t won the World Series for more than 80 years. They called it “The Curse of the Bambino” because the Sox, my favorite team, had traded Babe Ruth (who was called “The Bambino” and may have been the best player ever) to the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and 2007. So I guess there was no curse.

Some Chicago Cubs fans think their team is cursed. They haven’t won a World Series for more than 100 years. Washington Capitals fans are beginning to think their team is cursed. In the National Hockey League, the Caps always seem to lose a heartbreaker in the playoffs.

Calvin Johnson got off to a great start Sunday in the season opener. He caught six passes and gained 111 yards in the Lions’ 27-23 win over the St. Louis Rams.

Can Megatron break the Madden Curse? Keep an eye on him.

Fred Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 18 sports books for kids. His latest soccer book, “Go for the Goal!,” has just been published.