Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Rob Gronkowski makes good on promise to smash Jared Allen

Posted by: under Vikings, NFC, Brett Favre, Jared Allen Updated: April 4, 2012 - 10:37 AM

Good news for Vikings star Jared Allen: he no longer has to worry about being swallowed up by the Madden curse.

This year, EA Sports is using a bracket format and fan voting to determine which player will be put on the cover of its "Madden '13" NFL video game. In the first round of the tournament, Allen cruised past Dallas' DeMarcus Ware, winning 58 percent of the vote in that head-to-head matchup.

But in the Sweet 16, Allen was handily beaten by New England tight end Rob Gronkowski -- 65 percent to 35 percent. Gronkowski guaranteed such a destruction, channeling his inner-Gallagher and smashing a watermelon which he said represented Allen.

Gronk, who just might have been seperated at birth from Ronnie of MTV's "Jersey Shore", now moves on to the Elite Eight of the Madden cover vote bracket where he'll next take on Detroit's Calvin Johnson.

The other three quarterfinal matchups: Aaron Rodgers vs. Ray Rice; Cam Newton vs. Larry Fitzgerald; and Patrick Willis vs. Victor Cruz.

As for Allen, this is one loss he might actually be celebrating. After all, appearing on the cover of Madden might seem like an honor. In truth, it's a trap door into misfortune. Some of the more notable victims of the Madden curse:

2001 (Madden '02 cover) - Daunte Culpepper suffered a career-altering knee injury.

2002 (Madden '03 cover) - Marshall Faulk was bothered by an ankle injury and struggled through an unproductive year.

2003 (Madden '04 cover) - Michael Vick broke his leg in the preseason.

2005 (Madden '06 cover) - Donovan McNabb suffered a sports hernia early in the season, struggled to play with it and later went on the shelf for the final seven games of the season.

2006 (Madden '07 cover) - Shaun Alexander suffered a broken foot early in the season.

2007 (Madden '08 cover) - Vince Young went down with a quadriceps injury.

2008 (Madden '09 cover) - Brett Favre led the New York Jets to an 8-3 start then faltered down the stretch, his shoulder pain contributing to the Jets' four losses in the final five games.

2009 (Madden '10 cover) - Troy Polamalu suffered a sprained MCL in the Steelers' season opener and missed 11 games.

2011 (Madden '12 cover) - Peyton Hillis was banged up all season, missed six games and rushed for 587 yards, less than half of what he totaled in 2010.

So, yeah, maybe it's best for Allen the way this has worked out. And just for the record, two NFC North superstars are still alive in the Madden bracket. For whatever that's worth.

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