If you think your Saturdays are stressful, you won’t believe what the McCaffrey family goes through. Lisa had it tough in the 90’s, watching Ed play 13 NFL seasons for the Giants, 49ers and Broncos. But that pales in comparison to their weekends these days. With four sons, three of which play big-time football, stress is the McCaffrey’s life. It could hit an all-time high this weekend, as Christian is expected to be selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Having three sons grow up to be elite football players is no accident. There’s a long line of athletics in this family, and not just on Ed’s side. Both parents have physical prowess dating back generations, and so it’s no surprise their kids love to run. At this pace, the McCaffrey’s could rank as one of the all-time most prolific football families.
Here’s what you need to know about Ed & Lisa:
1. They Dispute When They First Met
They definitely met, sometime and somewhere, at Stanford. Before that Ed McCaffrey was a Pennsylvania sports icon, and Lisa Sime was scoring goals in buckets for her high school soccer team in Florida. They both accepted offers to play in distant Palo Alto, spurning schools locally.
Ed once told a reporter that he and Lisa met at a birthday party of a mutual friend. “For me, it was love at first sight,” Ed told her.
“Um, we have a little discrepancy there,” interrupted Lisa. “I think we met in preseason in the trainer’s room. I was in there getting taped. If he doesn’t remember, it’s because he was this big-time football player, and I was just this little soccer player.”
The back-and-forth is, for reporters at least, the best part about speaking with the McCaffreys. In a Sports Illustrated feature on Ed, Mike Silver made the perfect analogy regarding the couple’s banter.
“If Ed, whose comments tend to be bland and cliche-ridden, is plain mustard, Lisa is wasabi.”
2. Lisa’s Been Called “The #1 Football Mom in America”
When Ed signed with the Denver Broncos, his third team in as many seasons, the McCaffreys decided to make Colorado their home. They had already started their family, as their first son, Max, was born in 1994. Two months after Max was born, Ed was cut by the Giants. He played one season in San Francsico, until Mike Shanahan lured McCaffrey away when he took over the Denver Broncos.
In recent years, the McCaffreys hardly stayed in The Centennial State. With Christian on one coast playing for Stanford, and Max playing as a wide receiver for Duke on the other, Ed and Lisa were often jet-lagged, nervous wrecks. When they were home, they watched Valor Christian high school sensation Dylan McCaffrey, who has already received offers from LSU. The youngest, Luke McCaffrey, has yet to make headlines at the high school level.
3. Athletics Are a Family Tradition
When you talk about Christian McCaffrey’s success this season, you have to give the young man credit for all his hard work and determination in the offseason.
You also have to thank genetics. Lisa has told reporters, “That’s why Ed and I got together–so we could breed fast white guys.”
Few couples were so well-equipped.
Lisa, formerly Lisa Stime, has a pretty athletic dad. In 2010, Duke University named Dave Sime as the school’s most outstanding athlete of the 20th century. Sime attended the University on a baseball scholarship, but ended up running track. In 1960 he won a silver medal in the 100M at the Rome Olympics. In his athletic prime, sporting magazines referred to him as “the world’s fastest human.” Lisa’s older sister, Sherrie Sime, was a top-ranked singles tennis player at the University of Virginia. Her older brother was a starting fullback at Duke.
Lisa didn’t stick a single sport, either. She set records in track, lettered four times in tennis, and scored 56 goals during her high school soccer career. She received Vanderbilt’s first-ever women’s soccer scholarship , but elected to attend Stanford even though they were not offering anything. She had two strong years for the Cardinal, before ruptured discs in her back ended her playing career.
On the other side, Ed McCaffrey Senior played his college hoops at St. Joseph’s College in Philadelphia. When Ed Junior was in high school, he was one of the best athletes Central Catholic high school in Allentown, PA has ever seen. McCaffrey was a Parade All-American in both football and basketball, leading the basketball team to two state titles. He also batted .540 for the baseball team.
McCaffrey’s brother Billy joined him on one of those championship runs, and went on to break Ed’s scoring record at Central Catholic. Bill started on Duke’s 1990-91 Championship team, then transferred to Vanderbily for his final two years. He played four years of pro basketball throughout Europe.
4. The Kids Weren’t Pushed to Sports, But it Was Inevitable
A 1999 story on McCaffrey’s success in Denver started with an auspicious anecdote. It’s about Christin McCaffrey, who was three years old during the story.
“Christian is always trying to run out on the field to be with his big brother,” his dad said. “We have to keep reeling him back in.”
Christian (3) couldn’t stand idly and watch his older brother Max (5) play soccer. The need to move was within him. The athlete seed was planted.
It’s no surprise that Lisa has done exactly what she joked about years earlier- breed fast white guys. She had all the right responses when she was asked in the same story, given the family history in athletics, if the kids even had a choice.
“Who knows if they are going to be talented or not? But I want them to be involved in what they love. If that’s books or music, that’s a good thing, too.”
Ed agrees, though he knows the toll sports can take. And not just the physical. Ed came a long way during his NFL career, and fought stereotypes of being a white receiver the entire way. Before joining the Broncos, McCaffrey was on the verge of being out of football.
Former teammate Rod Smith saw this coming, commenting on his time with Ed and Lisa in Denver: “It seemed like every time I turned around, Ed and Lisa were pumping out another fast, little, white football player.”
5. Lisa Says She is “Only As Happy As My Least Miserable Child”
With four kids in sports, Ed and Lisa lose. A lot.
They lose sleep, mostly during their weekend cross-country trips to see on of their sons play. Anyone on the east coast that tries to follow Stanford football knows how that goes. They also lose calories, after sweating their way through some of Max and Christian’s nail-biting finishes this season.
“As parents of athletes, we do fail,” Lisa said. “We fail every weekend. As a mom, you’re only as happy as your least miserable child.”
The worst of these weekends came earlier this season, when the couple flew east to watch Max, who caught nine passes for 90 yards in a game against Miami. That meant nothing, however, after an eight-lateral finish from the Hurricanes stunned the Blue Devils. Later that night, the family was awake until the following morning, watching as Christian’s team held off a late rally against Washington State. The kick missed, and the family could exhale.
All in a week’s work.