Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis put fear in opposing defenses last season after tearing through opposing teams like they were made of tissue paper. His offensive output landed him on the cover of the most popular sports video game in the United States - John Madden Football. The bad news, however, is what seems to happen to players after landing on the cover of the game. Numerous times throughout the history of the game players have had injuries or subpar seasons following a feature on the game's cover. Hillis has had a little bit of both this season.
When the Browns dumped head coach Eric Mangini following another disappointing season, gone was a rugged offense that fit Hillis' attributes to a tee. Put in its place was the "West Coast Offense" which thrives on the short passing game. The Browns do not possess the receivers to strike fear in opposing defenses, so they line up daring Colt McCoy and company to throw the ball down field. This has attributed to Hillis' meager 3.5 yard per carry.
While his numbers on the field are shaky, he raised eyebrows in week 4 for not suiting up for a game after being diagnosed with strep throat. Speculation soon shifted to the fact that Hillis was in the middle of contract negotiatons and may have played if he was taken care of by the team. After that incident, Hillis stopped being the featured back for the Browns and the team started to utilize Montario Hardesty more in their gameplan, which fueled rumors that Browns brass may not have been happy that he refused to play. Furthermore, Hillis' agent fanned the flames and told the Cleveland media that he advised the running back not to play while he was not 100%. Things got worse for the Browns star in their loss to the Oakland Raiders yesterday after he sustained an injured hamstring which will be further evaluated today.
While the Madden Curse sounds like some old wives tale, it may have gotten the best of a budding young running back in Peyton Hillis this season.