History of EA Sports Madden covers:
2001: Eddie George, he gets injured after the Titans make the Super Bowl run and the team suffers (hasn't averaged 4 YPC since his cover debut).
2002: Daunte Culpepper, Misses 4 games and has a horrible season overall after high expectations (Has been an interception machine since).
2003: Marshall Faulk, injured much of the season and the Rams start 0-5 on their way to a poor season (hasn't rushed for 1,000 yards since).
2004: Michael Vick, Breaks his ankle instead of the ankles of defenders everywhere. Falcons tank.
2005: Ray Lewis, the only player in the history of Madden to escape the curse.
2006: Donovan McNabb, currently nursing a chest injury, abdominal injury, shin contusion, and a possible sports hernia.
Me thinks McNabb is getting the worst of it. He's got all sorts of injuries that are not enough collectively or individually to prevent him from playing. That's gotta be some sort of hurting. Although despite it McNabb is having his best passing season yet (leads NFL in passing yards at 964, tied with Palmer for NFL lead in TD passes at 8, and 4th in passer rating at 99.4 which is his second highest).
Barry Sanders started it, he was on the 2000 cover in one of the stickers next to Madden's head.