Madden NFL 25 cover reveal: Five picks to grace cover of this year's game

Does a certain pop star influence cllct's choices? We're guilty as sin

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Which superstar will grace the cover of Madden NFL 25?

The cover athlete for EA Sports' "Madden NFL 25" will be revealed Tuesday.

A teaser for the reveal, posted on Twitter, shows a photographer at the cover shoot, followed by the EA Sports Logo and the company's “It’s in the game” slogan, but offers no hints as to whom might be gracing this year’s cover.

With the upcoming announcement, cllct presents the five nominees who we feel best deserve to be on this year's cover.


Before we get to the nominees, context is important.

This year will be the 36th edition of the game, with the first being released in 1988. Legendary coach and namesake of the game John Madden appeared on every cover through 2000.

Since then, a player has appeared on the cover of every game, except for Madden 23, when Madden reappeared on the game following his death in December 2021.

In total, 26 athletes have appeared on the cover. Here's a breakdown by position:

  • Quarterback: 12
  • Running back: 7
  • Wide receiver: 4
  • Tight end: 1
  • Defense: 3

So, with all the background, here are cllct’s best guesses for the cover of Madden 25.

1. Travis and Jason Kelce

There are lots of trends being bucked with this nomination, but the Kelce brothers aren’t exactly the type to stay in their lane.

While Travis has long been the face of NFL tight ends, his popularity broke through the stratosphere this past season, in large part due to his relationship with Taylor Swift.

The pop superstar spent most of the NFL calendar as Spotify’s top-streamed artist in the world. And say what you will about Swifties, they are as die-hard as they come. After Swift attended her first Chiefs game in 2023, Kelce’s jersey sales spiked by 400 percent.

Apex Marketing Group estimated Swift brought more than $330 million in brand value to the NFL and the Chiefs, as well as helping the NFL to reach its highest viewership since 2015. This latter fact is in large part to massive audience spikes among women from ages 18-49.

But Swift isn’t the sole reason for Kelce’s enormous following.

According to ispot, Kelce appeared in more commercials during NFL games than “any other athlete, actor and other household name.”

This past season, Kelce earned more than $2.4 million in NFL royalties, ranking him fourth in the league and first among all non-quarterbacks.

Rob Gronkowski is the only tight end ever to appear on the cover (Madden 17), but we're guessing Kelce is next in line.

Despite Travis' spotlight, Jason has become a fan favorite among all demographics nationwide.

The fanfare for Jason really began two seasons ago, when Travis and Jason became the first brothers to ever face off in the Super Bowl. The sound of the national media surrounding the pair was deafening, and the whole family became household names.

Jason’s traction in daily conversation also gained steam due to his podcast, “New Heights”, and the Amazon documentary “Kelce."

“New Heights”, which he hosts alongside Travis, regularly sees itself as the top streamed sports podcast in the country. And it has also given Jason the opportunity to showcase his family on a national platform, which the country has come to love. His wife and daughters starred in some of the podcast’s most-watched and disseminated social-media clips.

This family stardom was further embraced in the “Kelce” documentary, which was released in 2023.

In case you didn’t realize just how popular Jason has become ... he earned more than $1 million in NFL royalties, ahead of players such as Lamar Jackson and Saquon Barkley. No other offensive lineman topped $200,000.

It would also be naive to say Swift didn’t also have a further effect on Jason’s rise in popularity. Her impact on Travis certainly helped boost Jason. My own fiance, self-proclaimed non-sports fan, sends me clips all the time of Jason and his family. How did she discover Jason? Taylor Swift. This is also how she learned of Travis.

Twice, the game has featured multiple athletes on the cover, Madden 10 (Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polumalu) and Madden 22 (Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes). We could be in store for a third.

And if this happens, Jason would become just the second retired player ever to be on the cover, joining Barry Sanders.

2. Micah Parsons

Somehow ... the Dallas Cowboys, the most valuable sports franchise in the world, have never had a player on the cover of Madden.

And if there was ever a Cowboy to change that, it’s Parsons.

The 25-year-old linebacker has only been in the league three seasons and already has earned three Pro Bowl selections, two first-team All-Pro appearances and has finished top-three in Defensive Player of the Year voting each season. He is a certified game-wrecker.

He is also very media savvy. His weekly podcast, “The Edge," gives him a highly visible platform, which isn’t always easy for defensive players.

Parsons has also now led all defensive players for the previous two seasons in NFL royalty earnings, and is only increasing his ranking, moving from 11th in 2022 to sixth in 2023. Oh, and he had the top-selling jersey of any player in the league in 2023.

The last defensive player to don the cover was Richard Sherman for Madden 15. Ten years later, Parsons could come calling.

3. Christian McCaffrey

Just imagine, Madden 25, Run-DMC on the soundtrack and Run-CMC on the cover. It’s poetic.

Despite running backs accounting for the second-most Madden covers (behind quarterbacks), only three backs have been on the cover in the last 15 years, and none in the last 10.

But McCaffrey has a few things going for him that other candidates didn’t. He was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year, scored 20 touchdowns and reached a Super Bowl. And he did it all for one of the league’s most popular teams in the 49ers.

McCaffrey led all running backs in jersey sales last season as well as NFL royalty earnings. After re-signing with the 49ers on a two-year, $38 million deal, McCaffrey could well be the first San Francisco player ever on the Madden cover.

4. Jalen Hurts

Unlike the previous names on this list, this is strictly a popularity pick, rather than a results pick.

The Eagles crawled to an abysmal finish last year, accentuated by a blowout loss to the Buccaneers in the NFC wild-card round.

Hurts regressed mightily from a 2022 campaign that would’ve likely seen him win the MVP, had he not gotten injured at the end of the season. Still, he’s a high-profile, proven QB who garners massive buzz.

Last year’s cover featured Josh Allen after the Bills were embarrassed in a divisional-round defeat to Cincinnati the year before ... IN BUFFALO.

Donovan McNabb is the last Eagles player to earn the cover nod, and that was in 2006 after he only played nine games in 2005. The cover doesn’t always come after a legendary season. Sometimes it comes two years after.

McNabb led the Eagles to the Super Bowl in 2004. Marshall Faulk faced the cover in 2003, two years after winning league MVP. The same could happen with the league’s second-highest royalty earner in Hurts.

Note: In theory, reigning MVP Lamar Jackson should be the QB pick over Hurts. But he has already been on the cover (2021) within the last five seasons, and the only players to appear on the cover twice have been Brady and Mahomes, both Super Bowl MVPs.

We are also not considering Mahomes because no player has ever been on the cover three times, and we certainly don’t expect a player to be on the cover three times since 2020.

5. Justin Jefferson

Jefferson is ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. There’s a very real chance, had the dynamic Vikings receiver and quarterback Kirk Cousins both not gotten hurt, Jefferson could have become the first receiver in NFL history with 2,000 yards in a single season.

In just 10 games last year, he still managed to notch over 1,000 yards. Through four seasons, Jefferson is averaging 98.3 receiving yards per game, most in NFL history, and over 12 yards per game more than the next closest player, Calvin Johnson. He has more receiving yards and more receptions in his first four seasons than anyone else. Frankly, he has been the most productive offensive player in the NFL his entire career.

The last receiver to be featured on the cover was Antonio Brown in 2019. Since Larry Fitzgerald became the first receiver on the cover in 2010, the current five-year gap between receivers is the longest the position has gone.

If any receiver is on the cover before Jefferson, it will be an abomination.

Matt Liberman is a reporter and video producer for cllct.