Every team has their own set of superstitions. For the Chicago Cubs, the Curse of the Billy Goat has been blamed for keeping the franchise from winning a World Series for over a century.
Then there's the infamous Madden Curse that jumps from team to team. Players who appear on the cover of EA's "Madden NFL" series have either experienced an extreme decline in play or they've somehow gotten badly hurt, with only a few exceptions to the rule. Peyton Hillis, who appeared on the cover of Madden NFL 12 as a Cleveland Brown, attributed his decline to the curse.
Where's Hillis now? He retired in 2015 after failing to latch on with an NFL team due to poor performance and injury woes.
Fans of the Miami Dolphins are no exception, and they have suspected the team has their own curses, one of which is the curse of the number 19, which seems to have claimed its next victim in rookie wide receiver Jakeem Grant.
"Yeah I've seen a lot of things about that," Grant told me. "They (the fans) posted on my Twitter, 'you gotta change that number 19, it's cursed!'"
Ever since the Dolphins drafted Ted Ginn Jr. in the first round with the ninth overall pick (over QB Brady Quinn who everyone was clamoring for) back in 2007, the so-called curse began to take its toll.
Ginn became the first Dolphin to wear #19 since WR Nate Jacquet in 1987. He became infamous for dropping passes and was more valuable as a special teams player than as a wide receiver, and he (and of course his family) was never able to live up the enormous expectations placed on him as a 1st rounder. He was out of Miami after three disappointing seasons, but he has been to two Super Bowls with different teams.
Guess #19 is only cursed in Miami.
The next man up was WR Brandon Marshall. He was the most productive wearer of #19, producing two straight 1,000 yard receiving seasons and a trip to the Pro Bowl with Chad Henne and Matt Moore as his QBs. This would give the impression that Marshall doesn't fall underneath the curse's influence.
Of course, Marshall had his own set of problems, and not all of them were his fault. The now Jets wide receiver was notorious for his strong personality, but more notably, he has a storied history with domestic violence cases. He and his wife Michi Nogami-Marshall (yes they're still married) have come to blows before during arguments, including one case in 2009 where they were charged with disorderly conduct and were released on $300 bond. The charges were eventually dropped.
Then in 2011, the most infamous situation took place when Nogami was charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon after she stabbed Marshall in the abdomen. She was eventually released from jail on a $7,500 bond the next day and Marshall underwent emergency surgery that same morning. Marshall, for his part, tried to protect his wife by lying about what happened, but no evidence was found to give credence to his claim.
That same year he was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which means he has “an inability to process emotions, magnifies the fear of abandonment, and creates heightened feelings of loneliness and boredom. Those suffering from the condition are more apt to self-injure and are prone to suicidal thoughts and actions.”
Joe Philbin became the Miami Dolphins head coach in 2012, and Marshall was shipped to the Chicago Bears for a couple of third round draft picks, one of which was used to draft cornerback Will Davis in 2013 (who is now a member of the Baltimore Ravens), and then Miami traded the Bears' 2012 third rounder to the Chargers for their third and sixth rounders, which were used to draft tight end Michael Egnew and wide receiver B.J. Cunningham.
None of those players were able to make any significant contributions with the Dolphins, so Marshall was removed by Philbin's unwillingness to manage strong personalities, and Miami suffered from a lack of talent at the WR position as a result.
The curse continued.
Since then, #19 has been worn by wide receiver Legedu Naanee, who failed miserably to replace Brandon Marshall despite a strong training camp showing, and wide receiver Armon Binns, who looked good in limited playing time, but became injured and the team eventually moved on from him. He currently plays in the Canadian Football League.
With this long string of drama and failures attached to the number 19, Dolphins have become wary of anyone wearing it, so much so that they've already prepared themselves for Grant to bust.
When the rookie jersey numbers were revealed, fans reached out to Grant via Twitter in droves, ranging from wishing him luck overcoming the curse and begging him to switch numbers before it was too late.
But Grant isn't concerned with the possibility of being touched by such a thing, and he seems confident that he'll be the one to break the curse and turn back into something great.
"I've always been about a challenge, just to prove guys wrong, and I wanna be that guy to come in and just show them Jakeem Grant changed number 19 from a curse to a gift."
Are there really such things as curses? Is the number 19 cursed for the Dolphins? All that is up for debate and honestly depends on who you ask. What is set in stone is Grant's determination to prove that - curse or not - he won't fall to its influence.
It's just another challenge for the 5'6" wide receiver to overcome, just as he's been doing his entire football career.
"That's how I look at it, and I want the fans to know that number 19 is no longer a curse."
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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