The John Evans Curse

17 Nov

Anyone who has followed Northwestern’s football team this year knows that there is an invisible, intangible and entirely irreversible curse working against them. That’s not to say that the team should be 9-0 (there has been some less-than-stellar playing all around), but something is clearly afoot. It simply cannot be denied after losing to Ohio State because of a controversial spot on 4th and 1, losing to Iowa in overtime, losing to Nebraska because of a 50-yard Hail Mary touchdown with 4 seconds left, and now losing to Michigan on a last-second haphazard field goal that couldn’t even happen in Madden 2014.

But anyone who has spent a quality evening watching Pirates of the Caribbean knows that curses do not fall arbitrarily. There is always a backstory: a curse happens for a reason, and it happens on very specific terms. The Jacksonville Jaguars, for example, do not suffer from a curse; they suffer only from the misfortune of being a professional sports team in Jacksonville. The Northwestern Wildcats suffer from a veritable curse, and until it is lifted, the team will be hindered in many ways.

Northwestern is suffering under the 100-year curse of John Evans.

John Evans, inadvertent dicker-over of the Northwestern Wildcats (via

For those who don’t know, John Evans was a founder of Northwestern University and the first president of the Board of Trustees, in addition to being the namesake of Evanston, the town in which Northwestern resides. But Evans was much more than a mere university administrator. He owned dozens of properties in Chicago, and in 1871, he sold many of these properties before going on a trip to England. While he was there, the Great Chicago Fire wiped most of them out. More importantly, during his stint as Governor of the Colorado Territory, he oversaw (and possibly ordered) the Sand Creek Massacre. He decorated the commander of the attack, Colonel John Chivington, and his men for slaughtering over 160 unarmed Indians. John Evans was a man that spent his entire life building up bad karma and good luck, and these are two things that must always be repaid.

Unfortunately for the Wildcats, the curse is likely in its infancy. The most logical explanation is that the curse wasn’t placed until 1997, 100 years after Evans’ death in 1897. Seeing as Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl in 1996, we have concluded that from 1997 to 2097 (100 years is a pretty standard length for a curse), the #EvansCurse will prevent Northwestern from attending the Rose Bowl. Furthermore, the curse will subject the team to uncontrollable bouts of bad luck — last-second Hail Marys, last-second field goals, overtime losses, key injuries, etc. It’s terribly sad for Wildcat fans, but it’s the only way the forces of nature and reciprocity can make John Evans pay for his deeds.

The #EvansCurse is real, my friends. And until it’s over, expect more continuous disappointment from Northwestern football. They might be lucky enough to make a bowl game, and even win it, but until this curse is lifted, they will not play in the Rose Bowl and they will not have luck on their side.

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