And Then There Were 8: A Madden Curse Update

Tell me he wouldn't look great on the Madden cover! (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

OK, now it's time to get serious.

While Gronk has been off Spring Breaking, spiking melons, and serving customers at a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru, we've all been here in the trenches doing our part to make sure that he is on the field and healthy for the entirety of the 2012 NFL Season. And so far, all of our efforts have come up snake eyes; we're now in the Elite 8 of the Madden Cover Contest, and as we all expected, Rob Gronkowski beat out Jared Allen to advance into Round 3. Not to fear, though; while I'd be absolutely panicking under different circumstances, nobody in their right mind could have expected Brandon Lloyd or Jaren Allen to take down Gronk in this tournament - he's just too freaking awesome. So, he's still in the dance and we're all stuck sweating out the Madden Curse for another week. But that's OK, because now it's down to the Big Boys.

Here are the final four matchups:

The good news is that now the competition is really starting to stiffen up. Pretty much all of these players are All-Stars, so we're now at the point where Gronk has a very legitimate chance to get knocked out. His latest opponent, Megatron, is coming off a 96 catch, 1681 yard season in which he hauled in 16 touchdowns and had eight 100+ yard games, including that 11 catch, 244 yard day against the Packers in the playoffs. The guy is an absolute monster and a member of a fairly likable team. He also has the allure, the skill, and the starpower to be a legit Madden Cover player, and in my opinion is second only to Cam Newton in mass appeal. The Lions are my second favorite team in the NFL, courtesy of the 90s and Barry Sanders, and I've always rooted for them whenever they aren't playing the Pats. So, there is definitely a part of me feels bad for wanting Johnson to win this matchup and exponentially increasing his chances of doom. However, a much, much bigger part of me really wants to win another damn Super Bowl, so it's with very little regret that I implore you all to click here to vote for Johnson and keep the Madden Curse away from the Gronkle.

I also couldn't help but notice that, once again, the player I backed to win the whole thing is no longer in the running. First, Tim Tebow lost out to Arian Foster in Round One. I wasn't happy about it, but I understood it. Now Victor Cruz has taken down Darrelle Revis, which is a much tougher pill for me to swallow. I know that receiver is a more glamorous position than defensive back, and that Cruz and his salsa dancing legs are one of the feel-good stories of the 2011 season - but come on! Revis is the best cornerback in the game! Why couldn't he have suffered a serious injury won? I'm calling shennanigans on that one. However, no amount of complaining is going to change the situation, and we just have to vote for who is left. I think it's in everyone's best interest that I just stop endorsing other players and stick to the script.

In fact, if Gronk wins again to move into the Final Four, I may have to launch an all-out "Gronk for Madden ‘13" campaign to completely ensure that he doesn't win it. I don't know how well the Shane Curse can match up against The Madden Curse, but I'm more than willing to sacrifice myself for Gronk in this case. It's the least I could do.

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