Madden cover boy Cam Newton off to a slow start

On the heels of a disastrous 2011 season for Peyton Hillis after he was named the Madden cover boy, the idea of a “Madden Curse” gained some serious traction, as many football fans and hard core gamers couldn’t get enough of the story. Of course the story is absurd in many ways, but many fans and betters can’t help get caught up in the hysteria. Betters are supposed to rely and cold analysis when picking games, and use resources like stats and some sportsbook review options to make the best picks and find the most advantageous betting lines, but stuff like this always seeps into the equation. Which team has momentum? Which team or player is due?

With Peyton Hillis, he was a one-year wonder with the Browns in 2010, and he proved to be a headcase in 2011, and while he was injured, there are plenty of rational explanations for his terrible season apart from a curse.

Yet while some of the concerns about a curse might be irrational, this year we’re seeing Cam Newton struggle. Now he’s a much better player than Peyton Hillis, so if Newton stumbles, the curse chorus will get even louder. Last night Newton had a very tough game against the New York Giants pass rush, and Newton has looked much more human in 2012. Still, people need to keep in mind that Newton is just in his second season, and many quarterbacks suffer a sophomore slump as defenses in the NFL adapt to your strengths and discover your weaknesses. The truly good players can then also adjust and improve their game.

So whether this is a slump or another manifestation of a video game curse, many eyes will be on Cam Newton to see if he can get back to his 2011 performance levels.


Quinn Pitcock’s Struggle to Tackle His Video Game Addiction

I’ve never really thought I had a problem with video games. Well, I still can’t beat Mike Tyson in “Punch-Out,” and the only reason I’ve ever gotten past that driving level in “Mafia” is by cheating, but what I mean is that I’ve never felt like I’ve ever had trouble balancing games with the rest of my life. While gaming is one of my great passions, I’ve been fortunate enough to find other passions in life that made it impossible to think about spending all of my waking time with just one of them.

However, I do realize that video game addiction is a problem that exists. For former NFL defensive lineman Quinn Pitcock, it’s a very real problem that may keep him out of the league.

Pitcock refers to himself as an introvert who can spend 18 hours a day playing “Call of Duty.” He says that, “The only way I could get my endorphins was by playing video games.” Realizing the depths of his addiction, he has gone to such dramatic lengths as physically breaking his games to try to make up for not being able to stop playing via his own will. Yet for all of his efforts, he has so far been unable to break his crippling addiction.

More than just register as a gross personal flaw, though, this is a problem that may permanently affect Pitcock’s career. That’s because he retired from football in 2008, after a somewhat impressive rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts, and has made two different unsuccessful attempts at a comeback since. Pitcock says he immediately regretted his decision to retire originally, but instead of refocusing his efforts to get back into the game, he instead sank deeper into his drug of choice. While he does play for the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League (and the Indianapolis Colts helped him find a psychologist to help with his addiction), he now has recently revealed that he has a legitimate worry that NFL teams will not trust him to be successful in his recovery efforts.

“They’re more comfortable with a drug addiction,” Pitcock says. “It’s unfortunate. It definitely hinders my chances.”

While that may sound like a ludicrous statement to some, the fact is that video game addiction is a mental addiction, which is considered much more problematic to break than a physical one. Let’s not forget the plight of one of the most talented football players of all time, Ricky Williams, whose addiction to marijuana was so severe that he once stated that his desire to smoke marijuana was greater than his desire to play football. Marijuana, like video games, is not a drug that is considered to be supremely addictive or inherently dangerous. Yet to the right mindset, both can be just as dangerous as any other substance.

I almost wrote this piece as a humorous article. The NFL player who’d rather play “Madden”…something like that. But the truth is that it’s hard not to feel sympathetic to Quinn Pitcock. Like I said, I’ve been lucky enough to find other passions that have kept my life from revolving around video games entirely, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t brief flirtations with having it become a problem.

To make it to the NFL, it takes an almost inhuman mix of skill and dedication. It’s obvious that on some level Quinn Pitcock still has both. However, as Voltaire said, “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.” Hopefully, Pitcock will be able to able to find the right balance in his life for all of his passions, and live without those chains.


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