I’m a superstitious man. I won’t walk under a ladder. I don’t open an umbrella until I’m outside. And if the Pittsburgh Steelers win on Sunday, I make sure to put aside my socks, underwear, and whichever of my twelve jerseys I was wearing so I’m sure to wear them again next week.
Hey, don’t laugh. They won the Super Bowl didn’t they?
So you can imagine my horror when I found out Troy Polamalu was going to be on the cover of the Madden 10 video game. You see, there’s this thing known as the Madden Curse. Whoever graces the cover is doomed to a season filled with injury and failure. This isn’t superstition, this is fact.
Ray Lewis was the cover boy for Madden 05 and suffered a season ending hamstring injury. Okay, in that case, it wasn’t so much a curse as divine justice. Donovan McNabb was featured on Madden 06. His season ended with a torn ACL. Shaun Alexander, the running back who propelled the Seahags to Super Bowl XL where they were humbled by the Steelers, was rewarded with the cover of Madden 07. He sustained a foot injury that caused him to miss almost half the season and was never the same again. There are several more examples.
When Polamalu left Thursday’s season opener against the Titans, many thought he’d eventually return. I knew better. I knew he had been Cursed. The only question in my mind was what misfortune had the Football Gods chosen to bestow upon him.
Turns out, Polamalu got lucky. He only suffered a sprained MCL which will keep him out for 3-6 weeks. If that diagnoses sounds familiar, it’s because that is the same injury Hines Ward suffered in the AFC Championship victory over Baltimore. Although Hines returned only 2 weeks later, he’d be the first to tell you he was in tremendous pain and only operating at about 1/5 of his regular ability.
Polamalu has a history of knee problems, likely due to his Tasmanian Devil style of play. In 2007, he missed several games with a nagging quad injury which severely limited him most of season. The Steeler defense had a lot of problems that year, culminating in a humiliating referee-assisted first round playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. We’re a deeper team than back then but a healthy Troy is still vital to the team’s success.
Nobody wants to go a month without one of their best players. Considering his knee got folded up like an accordion, this is definitely a best case scenario. Of course, we should know by now to never trust the Steelers when it comes to accurately reporting injuries. However, in this case, I’m going to rub my rabbit’s foot, kiss my blarney stone, and cross my fingers while hoping for the best.