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The Chunky Soup Curse is a mythical hex that seems to follow NFL players who appear in ads for Campbell's Chunky Soup. The Curse was independently discovered and originally popularized by Dan Lewis in September 2002. Offensive players who appeared in Chunky Soup ads tend to fall prey to serious injuries, as often do their backups. A potential reason for the affliction is that the original ads featured actresses purporting to be the players' mothers. This is no longer the case—at least as far as Donovan McNabb is concerned. His actual mother now appears in his ads (as does his father).
Terrell Davis and Kurt Warner, then of the Denver Broncos and St. Louis Rams, respectively, appeared in early ads for the Soup. Each would suffer significant injuries. Davis' knee problems forced him into early retirements. Warner's injuries caused him to miss the better part of two seasons, effectively leading him to a journeyman's role keeping the starting quarterback position warm until a young prospect was ready to seize it.
In November, 2002, Donovan McNabb fell prey to the Curse. While facing the Arizona Cardinals, on the third down of the game, McNabb was sacked by Adrian Wilson and LeVar Woods. McNabb fumbled the ball, fell to the ground, and held his right leg. He went to the locker room to have his ankle taped, but returned for the Eagles' second drive. His injury was reported to be a sprained ankle, but X-rays after the game revealed that it was a broken ankle. He missed the rest of the regular season. McNabb also spent the last seven weeks of the 2005 NFL season on injured reserve with a sports hernia.
Jerome Bettis, while not suffering any major injuries, has been hobbled by various ailments since appearing in the ads, his very successful 2004 notwithstanding.
Both Brian Urlacher and Michael Strahan ended the 2004 NFL season on injured reserve, Urlacher with a pulled left hamstring and Strahan with torn pectoral muscle. Urlacher missed seven games in 2004 to Strahan's 8.
Thus far, only John Lynch and Ladainian Tomlinson has avoided the Curse.
The most recent addition to this list is Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger. He was set to shoot his commercial the day after he went head first into that car on his motorcycle.
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Before Super Bowl XL, the Curse meant no World Championship for you, come back, one year (or rather, never). But Jerome Bettis' Disneyland moment in Detroit has demonstrated that the Curse does not have a true affect on the players' teams.
The Curse also takes its toll on the pitchman's understudy.
After Terrell Davis fell, his backup, Olandis Gary, followed suit. (Gary did have one sterling year). Gary never regained a starting job.
Filling in for Jerome Bettis, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala came in, got eight carries, and tore a pectoral muscle. Duce Staley was signed before the 2004 season to lighten Bettis' load, but Staley fell to injury as well, losing his job to Bettis and eventually, to Willie Parker.
When Donovan McNabb fell to injury in the 2002 NFL season, Koy Detmer was tapped as his replacement. Detmer admirably lead the Eagles for almost three quarters, but dislocated his elbow, ending his season. He has not started a game since.