John - 12/20/2007, 1:02 PM - Victims
Jonathan Vilma was on the fast track. A three year starter at the University of Miami, known for putting the best linebackers in the game on the field, Vilma was drafted by the New York Jets in 2004.
"I remember a friend saying, 'The Jets?! You're screwed now!'" said Vilma. "But, I remember a guy like Ray Lewis leaving Miami and going to Baltimore Ravens -- who back then were a step above a pee-wee league team."
Vilma dodged the curse of New York Jets. He won Rookie of the Year honors in 2004. In 2005 he led the NFL in tackles. He was rewarded with a trip to the Pro Bowl in 2006. Then it all fell apart.
"I thought I was set; I could make this Jets thing work," Vilma added. "But, then I took on a evil, cursed endorsement deal. Chunky Soup."
A defensive player, Vilma couldn't be picky about his endorsement deals.
"He wasn't some pansy who throws a ball for a living," said Eric Mangini, the Jets head coach. "I can't blame him. NFL careers are short and you gotta make enough money to cover you through the four remaining decades of near immobility it causes."
Vilma's agent, Mitch Frankel, said the choice was a business decision. "Jonathan's a smart guy with a degree from one of the better business schools out there."
Vilma said, "I saw what happened to McNabb, and he endorsed that evil soup forever. I thought maybe I take this endorsement deal now, while I know it can't hurt a sucky team like the Jets."
Then on October 21, 2007 it all went wrong. Coach Mangini pulled Vilma from a 38-31 loss to the Cincinatti Bengals.
The next day team doctors were horrified to discover that Vilma's entire knee was porous and near turning into powder. It was a classic symptom of the Campbell's Chunky Soup Curse.
Team doctors speculated about what to do. Amputate the leg? Unacceptable. Stand by as a man in his twenties turned into a jellyfish while his skeleton whithered? Immoral.
"We even talked about getting Jonathan a cyborg killing leg, similar to the cyborg killing arm that Kurt Warner is using so well this year," said team doctor R. Elbert Kung.
Vilma expressed regret about the situation. "The sad part is, I should know better. My parents come from Haiti. I know all about evil curses ... it's just ... it's ..."
Vilma teared up.
"Who ever heard of a curse coming in a can with a heaping helping of large beef chunks?"
Vilma hopes to return healthy in 2008. However, previous Curse victims can attest, Vilma faces a rough road.
The elder statesman of the Curse, Kurt Warner, said, "I hope he's right with God. Look what happened to Reggie White."
The youngest member of the Curse's senior's league was less bloody-minded. Said Ben Roethlisberger, "Quit endorsing it. Look at me. Look at Urlacher. We recovered. Hell, even Donovan McNabb is sort of doing better -- he's still on the field in December!!"
Vilma's agent says no decision has been made about his future as an endorser of the evil soup.