Monday, July 15, 2024

Christian McCaffrey is cover athlete for Madden 25, first 49ers player to receive honor

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San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey will be the latest Madden video game star. Electronic Arts announced the reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year will be the cover athlete for Madden 25.

The game will be released on Aug. 16.

“It’s really a dream come true. I think this is something that I never really expected,” McCaffrey told USA TODAY Sports. “When I got the call, it was such a great surprise. I was on cloud nine.”

It’s a “full circle moment” for the 49ers star, who has longed played and continues to play the Madden franchise. He reminisced about playing the game in the early 2000s with his brothers and being able to play as his father, former wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, when the elder McCaffrey was a member of the Denver Broncos.

Christian McCaffrey will be the first running back to be the cover athlete of the Madden video game franchise since Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson in 2014, and he will the first 49ers player to be the feature player in the worldwide cover of Madden. In 1999, former running back Garrison Hearst was on the international edition.

It may come as a surprise given all of the stars the 49ers have had in the 21st century, and McCaffrey believes there are some current teammates that are worthy of being on the cover. But he sees this as a big moment for the 49ers faithful.

“It’s just extremely humbling,” McCaffrey said. “It’s a good thing for Niners fans and me and my family, but really just I feel so grateful to be a part of a great organization that’s helped me have have so much success and reach a milestone like this in my career.”

McCaffrey has been one of the premier running backs since he entered the league in 2017, but 2023 was arguably his best in his first full season with San Francisco. He ran for a career-high 1,459 yards − most in the league − and 14 rushing touchdowns, while tallying 564 receiving yards and a career-high seven receiving touchdowns. His 21 total touchdowns was tied with Raheem Mostert in the NFL. In the Super Bowl 58 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, he had 22 rushes for 80 yards and eight receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown.

There’s plenty of hoopla about the “Madden curse,” which is when cover athletes have bad seasons after being featured on the game. There are plenty examples of it, but there’s also proof it doesn’t get everyone; Patrick Mahomes was on the cover of Madden 20 and he wound up winning his first Super Bowl.

Whether it’s a blessing or a curse, McCaffrey doesn’t believe it’s a bad omen.

“I definitely don’t buy into it,” he said.

Madden video game cover athlete history

The Madden franchise began in 1988, but the video game did not have NFL stars on the cover until 2001. The early editions of the game featured the namesake, John Madden, on the cover.

Here are the Madden cover athletes by year:

Madden NFL 2001: Eddie George

Madden NFL 2002: Dante Culpepper

Madden NFL 2003: Marshall Faulk

Madden NFL 2004: Michael Vick

Madden NFL 2005: Ray Lewis

Madden NFL 06: Donovan McNabb

Madden NFL 07: Shaun Alexander

Madden NFL 08: Vince Young

Madden NFL 09: Brett Favre

Madden NFL 10: Troy Polamalu and Larry Fitzgerald

Madden NFL 11: Drew Brees

Madden NFL 12: Peyton Hillis

Madden NFL 13: Calvin Johnson

Madden NFL 25 (2014): Barry Sanders and Adrian Peterson

Madden NFL 15: Richard Sherman

Madden NFL 16: Odell Beckham Jr.

Madden NFL 17: Rob Gronkowski

Madden NFL 18: Tom Brady

Madden NFL 19: Antonio Brown

Madden NFL 20: Patrick Mahomes

Madden NFL 21: Lamar Jackson

Madden NFL 22: Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes

Madden NFL 23: John Madden

Madden NFL 24: Josh Allen

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