Christian McCaffrey Is 'Genuinely Shocked' to Land Madden NFL 25 Cover: 'It's Pretty Surreal' (Exclusive)

"It's something that I never even envisioned myself doing or accomplishing," the running back tells PEOPLE exclusively

<p>EA Sports</p> Christian McCaffrey

EA Sports

Christian McCaffrey

Christian McCaffrey is the face of Madden NFL 25's cover, an honor the San Francisco 49ers running back says he wasn't expecting.

"This is a dream come true," McCaffrey. 28, tells PEOPLE on the set of the shoot in Los Angeles, California.

Despite being among the most popular players in the NFL and having played, albeit a loss, in the 2024 Super Bowl, McCaffrey says he was "genuinely shocked" to have been selected for the cover.

"I never expected to be on the cover of Madden. It's something that I never even envisioned myself doing or accomplishing so when I got the call, I felt unbelievably grateful," McCaffrey shares.

"I was genuinely shocked, but happy and excited and all of the emotions."

Related: Olivia Culpo and Christian McCaffrey's Relationship Timeline

McCaffrey grew up with the iconic football video game, and specifically remembers playing the 2001 edition with his brothers. "Eddie George was on the cover and we played it on the Nintendo 64," says the cover star, whose father is former wide receiver Ed McCaffrey.

"I have three brothers and there were four controllers, so it was perfect. We'd do two on two and we'd play with the Broncos, when you had my dad and Rod Smith and Terrell Davis and all those guys, so it was just a lot of fun."

<p>EA Sports</p> Christian McCaffrey

EA Sports

Christian McCaffrey

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At the time of the shoot, McCaffrey's selection as the 2025 cover star was under wraps, and he hadn't even told his family yet. "They don't even know yet. So I think maybe I'll tell them when it comes out and we'll see what they say," he says.

When it comes to getting in front of a camera for a shoot, McCaffrey admits, "The core part of me doesn't like it."

"But if you're shooting for the cover of Madden, you better learn to like the camera," he quips. "I've just tried to soak in this whole thing and enjoy it while it's happening."

Related: All About Christian McCaffrey's Parents, Ed and Lisa McCaffrey

The shoot was "a blast" for the running back, he says. "It's pretty surreal. We had a lot of fun with it," he adds.

And when the game releases Aug 16, McCaffrey predicts, "It'll be the most played video game I'll ever play, for sure."

The NFL star admits he's not the most formidable opponent when it comes to Madden, though. "I've always been good. I wouldn't say I'm great. I run the ball just about every play, so that only gets you so far."

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