Ten things you probably don’t know about Christian McCaffrey, the do-everything running back the Carolina Panthers selected at No. 8 overall in the NFL draft Thursday night:
1) THE PIANIST: Besides playing running back, wide receiver and kick returner, McCaffrey also plays the piano. This gives Carolina two amateur pianists at running back – starter Jonathan Stewart has long been known for the way he tickles the 88 keys.
2) THE PINK SLIPPERS: McCaffrey’s mother cried when she had him because she wanted a girl. Lisa McCaffrey was a soccer player at Stanford, where she met future NFL wide receiver Ed.
Their original plan, she told Sports Illustrated in a well-done and comprehensive 2016 story, was to have one boy and a girl. They already had a boy when Lisa got pregnant a second time and told Ed by wrapping up a pair of baby slippers colored pink.
“Poor Christian,” Lisa McCaffrey told Sports Illustrated. “When I found out he was a boy, I cried.”
3) THE SUPER BOWL: Christian McCaffrey attended the 50th Super Bowl in California, watching his future team (the Panthers) play his dad’s old team (the Broncos). Obviously, Christian was cheering for the Broncos given the circumstances.
Ed McCaffrey, his wife and Christian’s two youngest brothers still live in Colorado and until recently Ed McCaffrey was also part of the Broncos’ broadcast team. As for his father’s current allegiance, Christian McCaffrey said Thursday night about his dad sporting a Broncos jersey during the NFL draft: “We threw it off and put a Carolina Panthers jersey on.”
4) THE BROTHERS: All four of the McCaffrey boys – Max, Christian, Dylan and Luke – are immersed in football. It is conceivable they could become a smarter, tamer version of the Gronkowskis and all be in the NFL at the same time one day.
Oldest brother Max McCaffrey was a wide receiver who went to Duke. He went undrafted but will be in Green Bay’s training camp in 2017 and may well make the Packers’ final roster.
Dylan McCaffrey is a freshman quarterback at Michigan. Luke is a high school quarterback in Colorado just finishing his sophomore year who is already getting scholarship offers, including one from Michigan.
5) THE BLOODLINE: The McCaffrey bloodline extends out much further than the immediate family in terms of athletic formidability. Uncle Bill McCaffrey, for instance, won a national basketball championship at Duke in 1991 – he scored 16 points in the title game against Kansas in a contest where Christian Laettner had 18 points, Grant Hill 10 and Bobby Hurley 12. He would later transfer to Vanderbilt and become an All-American.
6) THE ESTRANGED GRANDFATHER: The most internationally recognized athletic star in the McCaffrey family is Christian’s grandfather, David Sime (who is the father of Christian’s mother, Lisa Sime McCaffrey).
David Sime also went to Duke and was, for a time, the fastest man in the world. Later, he was a 1960 Olympic silver medalist in the 100-meter dash, missing gold by an eyelash. He later became a famous ophthalmologist in Miami and had patients who included Mickey Mantle, Richard Nixon and Ted Williams.
But Sime, who died in 2016, also was estranged from the McCaffrey clan following his divorce from Christian’s grandmother in 1997. In that same Sports Illustrated story in 2016, Lisa Sime McCaffrey said of her father: “I had an awful dad. He didn't even know my younger kids' names. He never once came to one of my kids' sporting events. He was abusive, alcoholic, a womanizer, cheated on my mom for 38 years. Hit me several times in the face. Just not a very good person….. One reporter wrote, ‘Dave's genes are coursing through Christian's veins.’ If Christian is one ounce like my dad, I feel like I failed as his mom. My goal is to make sure none of my kids are anything like my dad.”
7) THE PHONE: Christian McCaffrey once posted a screenshot on Twitter that read in part: “My advice to the younger generation ... Enjoy the authenticity of this world. Read a book, ride your bike, go to the park, play in the backyard, or build a fort. Do something with your friends that will spur your imagination. ... Put the phones down!”
Of course, McCaffrey actually posted the note itself from a phone – and noted the irony himself – but you get the idea.
8) THE VIDEO GAME: It’s not like McCaffrey never uses a smartphone, of course. He told a group of assembled media in 2016 that he had gotten temporarily addicted to “Pokemon Go” and was glad for their distraction. “I’m happy you guys are here,” he said. “You got me off of ‘Pokémon Go.’”
9) THE MISSION TRIP: McCaffrey is an avid Christian. He spent part of the summer of 2013 on a mission trip to Rwanda. Said McCaffrey of his usual TD celebration: "I beat my chest five times and I point up to God."
10) THE POSTER: McCaffrey had a poster of former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders in his childhood room growing up in Colorado. He later would break Sanders’ single-season record for all-purpose yards in 2015, with a staggering 3,864. That was the year he rushed for 2,019 yards and caught passes for 645 more, with the rest coming on kick returns.