Odell Beckham Jr. May Be Cursed, But Electronic Arts Inc (EA) Isn't

Odell Beckham Jr. will grace the cover of "Madden 16" -- but can he avoid the curse?

May 14, 2015 at 10:24 AM
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"Madden 16" -- the wildly popular NFL video game made by Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) -- has announced its cover model: New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. At age 22, he'll be the youngest player ever to represent the Madden franchise.

The honor is well-deserved. Beckham -- who beat out Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski -- broke out during his rookie season, catching more than 90 passes for over 1,300 yards and 12 touchdowns (in just 12 games!). The wideout was also propelled into the spotlight following this sick one-handed catch.

Beckham will now try to build on the success of his rookie season, and avoid a sophomore slump. On top of that, he'll need to avoid the so-called "Madden curse." If you're unfamiliar, players that appear on the game's cover have a really bad track record, marred by injury and underperformance.

A few examples worth considering:

  • In 2001, just months after making the cover following a 4,000-yard season, Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper shredded his knee and was lost for the year. He came back the following season, but was a shadow of his former self.

  • Following a huge 2005 season, Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander won the Madden cover vote. The subsequent year, he broke his foot; the year after that, he suffered wrist, knee, and ankle injuries.

  • Browns running back Peyton Hillis had a breakout 2010 season and surprisingly won the vote to become Madden's featured athlete. However, his 2011 campaign was marred by a contract dispute, strep throat, and a hamstring injury.

Clearly, Beckham has cause for concern -- the curse is real. However, shares of Madden's maker -- EA -- are far from cursed. The shares have surged 32% year-to-date to trade at $62.22, and are within striking distance of their 10-year high of $63.46, touched on Monday.

Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:EA) could also benefit from a capitulation among skeptics. Over 16 million shares are sold short, which would take more than a week to buy back, at the stock's typical daily trading levels. In other words, EA could be on the verge of a short-covering rally.

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