20. Peyton Hillis – Madden 12
After suffering from quite possibly the worst case of the “Madden Curse” yet, Peyton Hillis never built upon his one successful year in the NFL. Originally drafted as a fullback from Arkansas, the 6’2” 250-pound wrecking ball made a name for himself at the collegiate ranks as a lead blocker for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones.
Hillis was awarded the cover by a poll ran by EA – first time the cover athlete was voted on – and his internet stardom greatly aided his campaign. He’s the only cover star to never reach a Pro-Bowl, and only has one 1,000-yard season to his name. The 7th round pick made a career for himself in that one season though, totaling 1,654 yards from scrimmage with 13 touchdowns. His feel-good story of 2010 in which he bruised defenses – including a 184-yard performance against the New England Patriots – never materialized to much more.
19. Vince Young – Madden 08
The former Texas Longhorn was selected with the third overall pick in the 2006 draft following one of the greatest performances in BCS National Championship game history. Young was a true dual-threat during his time in Texas, and hit the ground running with the Tennessee Titans, leading the team to a playoff berth in just his second season. Young was voted to the Pro Bowl in his sophomore year, and graced the cover of the 2008 version of Madden soon after. He kept the “Curse” alive, only suiting up for three games the following year, but did valiantly bounce back in 2009 by winning the Comeback Player of The Year. Unfortunately, off the field troubles and inconsistency throwing the football proved to be his ultimate demise. One of the greatest collegiate players ever was never able to put it all together in the NFL.
18. Daunte Culpepper – Madden 2002
Equipped with one of the strongest arms the league has ever seen, Daunte Culpepper – along with Randy Moss and Cris Carter – helped forge the dynamic Minnesota offense that lit up the league in the early 2000’s. Culpepper found success early with the Vikings, leading the franchise to an 11-5 record in his first full season under center. The electric gunslinger suffered a leg injury that derailed his 2001 season, but regained form in 2004, throwing for 39 touchdowns and 4,717 yards to earn his third Pro Bowl selection. That year would be Culpepper’s last as a quality NFL quarterback, as the rest of his career would be marred by injuries and inaccuracy. The Central Florida product only made the postseason once in his career, but was highly entertaining in his time with the Vikings.