49ers' Christian McCaffrey to be Madden NFL 25 cover athlete

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 11, 2024

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- In the long and storied history of the San Francisco 49ers, the franchise has earned nearly every honor and accolade available, except one. Since the Madden video game series switched to featuring players on the cover in 2000, no Niner had been chosen -- until now.

When Madden NFL 25 releases Aug. 16, 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey will be the cover athlete, EA Sports announced Tuesday.

In addition to being the first Niner on the cover in the player-centric era, McCaffrey is the first running back to be on the cover since Adrian Peterson and Barry Sanders in 2013, and the first non-quarterback since Antonio Brown in 2018. Former Niners running back Garrison Hearst appeared on the cover of the international edition of the game in 1999.

"It's really humbling," McCaffrey told ESPN. "I feel really grateful because obviously stuff like this is a testament to my teammates, my coaches, people who have helped me be in the position to have success, and so I feel really grateful for that.

"This is such a cool milestone for me, and to be on the cover, I think of those people who have helped me along the way, and obviously being the first 49ers player is really humbling when you think about how many greats have played for this organization. Definitely feel very fortunate."

The Madden honor is the latest addition to what is shaping up to be a big summer for McCaffrey. Coming off a season in which he won the NFL's Offensive Player of the Year award after posting 2,023 scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns and made his first Super Bowl appearance, McCaffrey on June 4 signed a two-year, $38 million extension to stay with the Niners through the 2027 season. Since then, he celebrated his 28th birthday and is getting married in the coming weeks.

For McCaffrey, the chance to be on the cover of Madden was a surprise.

McCaffrey was in his car when his agent called with the news. McCaffrey has long been a fan of the video game series and recalled playing the Nintendo 64 version of the 2001 game with his brothers (Max, Dylan and Luke), choosing the Denver Broncos and exclusively throwing the ball to the digital version of their father, Ed McCaffrey, and fellow receiver Rod Smith.

"It's a call I honestly never thought I would get," McCaffrey said. "I've always envisioned playing in the league and hopefully having success in the league, but it's just something that I never thought would happen to me, so it was definitely a surprising call and one that I'll always remember."

Madden has also played a prominent role in McCaffrey's philanthropic efforts. Each year, his foundation hosts "The Logan Bowl," which features NFL players competing against one another in games of Madden. That tournament raises money for "The Logan Project," which launched in 2022 and works to provide gaming consoles and games to children's hospitals all over the country.

Kansas City Chiefs receiver Marquise Brown won the 2024 tournament, which raised more than $158,000. McCaffrey said he hopes his team can find new ways to expand the project given his newfound cover status.

"I think this is just a little cherry on top and something that we'll have to put our creativity together with my team and figure out some different things that we can do," McCaffrey said. "But obviously the goal being put as many gaming consoles in hospitals as we can for these kids who are going through a lot. I don't know if it adds anything specific, but we'll definitely get creative and do some cool things with it."

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