Sun. Dec 5th, 2021

Superstitions and sports are as inseparable as Halloween and candy, but a few sports franchises and athletes have endured runs of such poor fortune that they seemingly can only be explained by the supernatural. Hexes such as the Curse of the Bambino and Curse of the Billy Goat that bedeviled the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs are familiar to most sports fans. Here are seven lesser-known sports jinxes:

The Curse of Rocky Colavito
Once the Red Sox and Cubs broke their historic curses, Major League Baseball’s longest title drought passed to Cleveland’s baseball club, which switched its name from the Indians to Guardians following the 2021 season. Much as some Red Sox fans pointed to the trade of Babe Ruth for their woes, Cleveland fans blamed the 1960 swap of the team’s most popular player, Rocky Colavito.

The reigning American League home run leader, Colavito learned of his trade to Detroit while standing on first base during an exhibition game at Russwood Park in Memphis. Perhaps the first sign that the transaction had angered the sporting gods was when the stadium was destroyed in a fire hours after the trade. Although Colavito returned to Cleveland five years later, the team’s 1948 World Series title remains their last.

Cleveland’s long-suffering fans watched their team fail to hold a ninth-inning lead in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series before a Tony Fernandez error contributed to a devastating loss. In 2016, the Cubs broke their curse in Cleveland by winning Game 7 of the World Series in extra innings and adding further heartache to the home team’s fans.

The Curse of the Seven Cats
After one of Argentina’s most popular soccer clubs, Racing Club de Avellaneda, followed its 1966 domestic title with victories in the Copa Libertadores and Intercontinental Cup in 1967, fans of its bitter rival, Club Atlético Independiente, broke into Racing’s home field and buried seven dead black cats under a stadium entrance.

Racing, which had won 15 league titles prior to the interment, subsequently swooned while Independiente captured a string of championships. Racing was even relegated from the top tier in 1983 and temporarily suspended from the league after declaring bankruptcy in 1999.

By that point, six of the cats had been disinterred. However, with the seventh corpse still missing, a priest performed an exorcism in front of tens of thousands of fans. Months after a stadium redevelopment in 2001 unearthed the seventh skeleton, Racing won its first domestic title in 35 years.

The Madden Curse
Garrison Hearst of the San Francisco 49ers suffered a broken leg in a 1999 playoff game against Atlanta.

In 1998, San Francisco 49ers running back Garrison Hearst became the first NFL player to appear on the cover of the wildly popular Madden football video game produced by EA Sports. Although he had a Pro Bowl season, Hearst suffered a gruesome ankle injury in a playoff game. It was the first in a series of injuries and poor seasons that seemed to strike players appearing on the video game’s cover.

According to Digital Trends, 16 of the 22 players selected to appear on the cover through 2021 subsequently suffered troubling or shortened seasons. The list includes Rob Gronkowski, Drew Brees, Donovan McNabb, Michael Vick, Daunte Culpepper and Adrian Peterson.

Although he blamed contract negotiations rather than the supposed curse, running back LaDainian Tomlinson turned down a cover appearance. His replacement on the Madden 2008 cover, quarterback Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans, endured a quadriceps injury and threw nearly twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. Undoubtedly, the injuries had more to do with the bruising nature of football than a video game.

“Do you want to be hurt and on the cover, or just hurt?” asked Seattle running back Shaun Alexander, who broke his foot weeks after fronting Madden NFL 07.

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