NFL superstar reacts to girlfriend's Sports Illustrated cover

Sam Goodwin
·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Christian McCaffrey and Olivia Culpo, pictured here in the NFL and on Sports Illustrated respectively.
Christian McCaffrey has reacted to Olivia Culpo's Sports Illustrated cover. Images: Getty/Sports Illustrated

NFL superstar Christian McCaffrey has congratulated his ‘queen’ Olivia Culpo after she was revealed as one of three cover models for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition.

Sports Illustrated has revealed Culpo, Jasmine Sanders and Kate Bock will grace the cover of the 2020 edition of the famed swimsuit magazine.

‘APPALLING’: Uproar over NFL star's shock Hitler post

'FIRST $500m PLAYER': Mahomes in richest deal in sports history

Culpo, a former Miss Universe contestant and girlfriend of Carolina Panthers running back McCaffrey, said she “popped Champagne” and “got a little emotional” when she found out the news.

“I really am speechless and this still doesn’t feel real. I am so grateful for every experience I have been able to have with my @si_swimsuit family,” Culpo wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of her cover.

“It’s been an honour to be surrounded by so many amazing and strong women.

“The second swipe here is a vision board I made about 4 years ago before I had ever even shot for sports illustrated. I cut out pictures from a huge SI coffee table book I bought and glued my face on it.

“I was debating sharing this but figured if this huge milestone can mean something to someone else out there then it’s an even greater blessing for me.

“To anyone who sees this, never stop visualising and striving for what you want. Don’t lose hope and remain focused and persistent.”

McCaffrey, who has been spending the coronavirus lockdown with Culpo, also shared his excitement.

“Congrats to the queen,” he wrote.

Culpo said the three cover models “genuinely care about each other.”

“I have been friends with them for a very long time,” Culpo told the New York Post.

“During the shoot, we were so kind to each other and wanted to make sure each of us was comfortable.”

Bock is also the longtime girlfriend of Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love, while Sanders has been linked to Phoenix Suns player Kelly Oubre Jr.

Christian McCaffrey the new face of the Panthers

With the Panthers in the midst of a roster overhaul, McCaffrey could have forced his way out of Carolina in hopes of finding a team better prepared to challenge for a Super Bowl title.

But the All-Pro running back said that notion never crossed his mind.

Instead, he signed a four-year, US$64 million contract extension in April that makes him the NFL’s highest-paid running back and the face of the Panthers franchise now that quarterback Cam Newton and linebacker Luke Kuechly are gone.

“I never focused on signing somewhere else - it never occurred to me,” McCaffrey said during a video conference call.

“I want to be in Carolina for my whole career. ... I bought a place in Charlotte. I love the Carolinas more than anything in the world. It is somewhere I would like to call home forever.”

Christian McCaffrey and Olivia Culpo, pictured here at the NFL Honours night in February.
Christian McCaffrey and Olivia Culpo at the NFL Honours night in February. (Photo by Rich Graessle/PPI/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

McCaffrey, who turned 24 in June, will be playing for a new coach in Matt Rhule, catching passes from a different quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater and running behind a revamped offensive line in 2020, if the season proceeds as scheduled amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The changes don’t seem to bother him.

“There is change that goes on in the NFL all of the time,” McCaffrey said.

“You look around the league and see what’s happening. You look at some of the great players of all time and the teams they have gone to.

“You can stay close friends with people and build great relationships but if you stay attached it’s tough, because it a revolving door. It’s such a business.”

with Associated Press