Rory McIlroy replaced Tiger Woods on the cover of EA's golf game this season (now titled Rory McIlroy PGA Tour). Two weeks before the game's release McIlroy suffered a season-ending ankle ligament tear playing soccer. McIlroy is not the first victim of the EA cover jinx, a phenomenon SI knows something about.
MADDEN NFL 2004
Cover subject Michael Vick of the Falcons was virtually unstoppable in this version of the game, the most dominant sports video-game character of all time. The real Vick was, however, eminently stoppable. Five days after the game's release, in '03, he broke his leg in a preseason game, missing six weeks.
Brazilian soccer star Kaka was the subject of two press releases on Aug. 5, 2010: one, from Electronic Arts, announced that the midfielder would appear on the box of FIFA 11; the other, from Real Madrid, announced that the team's star player had undergone knee surgery. He would miss nearly five months.
NBA LIVE 2002
Chosen as the box art for the game's eighth edition, Rockets point guard Steve Francis missed 25 games in '01--02 due to plantar fasciitis and symptoms related to Ménière's disease, which included migraines and hearing loss. It wasn't all bad, though—after the 28-win season Houston won the draft lottery and picked franchise center Yao Ming.
MVP BASEBALL 2003
Curses! The Diamondbacks' reigning NL Cy Young winner, Randy Johnson, and the A's reigning AL MVP, Miguel Tejada, shared the cover. Johnson was hurt (knee) for much of the season and went 6--8 with a 4.26 ERA (a year after going 24--5 with a 2.32 ERA), and Tejada hit .278, a 30-point drop from the previous season.
EA SPORTS (COVERS)