49ers’ Christian McCaffrey Unbothered by Chatter About ‘Madden’ Cover Curse

EA Sports announced Tuesday that San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey will grace the cover of Madden NFL 25 when it’s officially released later this summer.

Is McCaffrey concerned at all about the infamous curse that many fans bind with being featured on the cover of the NFL’s annual video game?

“I’m not superstitious at all about it. I was so excited,” McCaffrey told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero on Tuesday. “This was such an honor. When I first got the call, I was in shock. It was something I never thought would happen to me. I never thought that somebody would call and tell me I’m on the cover of Madden.

“When I got the call, I wasn’t thinking about any curse. I was just excited. I think that stuff is kind of myth. Whatever happens, happens.”

49ers running back Christian McCaffrey celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs in the first half in Super Bowl LVIII at Allegiant Stadium.

John Madden himself, the late, great former NFL coach and broadcaster, was featured on the cover for each annual game from the original in 1988 until 2001, when Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George was selected to be the game’s first cover athlete.

Since that year, players ranging from George to Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis to Cleveland Browns running back Peyton Hillis have been featured on the cover.

However, Vick (Madden ’04) fractured his fibula shortly after the game’s release and was sidelined for all but five games of the 2003 campaign. Donovan McNabb (Madden ’06) suffered a season-ending injury in Week 10 of the 2005 season. Shaun Alexander (Madden ’07) saw his streak of five straight seasons with at least 1,000 rushing yards end in his cover year. Vince Young (Madden ’08) threw nine touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2007 and lost his starting job the following season.

And so began the infamous Madden curse.

The curse is far from a science, of course. Taking the cover of Madden didn’t prevent Calvin Johnson (Madden ’13) from setting the NFL record with 1,964 yards in 2012, or Tom Brady (Madden ’18) from winning his third MVP award at age 40, or Patrick Mahomes (Madden ’20) from claiming his first Super Bowl title.

A curse? A jinx? A coincidence? No matter what you believe, McCaffrey doesn’t want to hear it.

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