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McCaffrey matriarch Lisa played pivotal role in athletic development of Luke, his brothers

Screenshot 2024-05-10 at 11.34.50 AM

Though Luke McCaffrey wasn't alive yet, the story of his mom Lisa's famous sprint is an epic family tale he's proud to share.

"I mean, if you want to look at genes alone, my mom ran I think a 4.5 40-yard dash pregnant with my brother," he said with a laugh. "So that's kind of always our answer when someone asks us, 'Where'd you get your athleticism from?' It's immediate, all of us will answer 'our mom.'"

Sure, three-time Super Bowl champion dad Ed McCaffrey was important in the evolution of the four athletic McCaffrey boys but Lisa? She was key, and her story -- her athletic achievements and the influence on her competitive sons -- isn't always as emphasized.

Born to an Olympic medal winning father and a Division I athlete mother, Lisa McCaffrey (nèe Sime) perhaps unsurprisingly showed her sports prowess at a young age. In high school, she set the Ransom Everglades' record in the 100-meter dash and made the varsity tennis team as a freshman.

On the soccer field, she was a goal-scoring machine. Lisa's 56 career goals in high school led her to being featured in Sports Illustrated. Colleges took notice, and she was offered Vanderbilt's first women's soccer scholarship. Stanford, though, had caught the forward's eye, and she opted instead to play for the Cardinal, where she'd go on to be teammates with two-time World Cup winner Julie Foudy.

"It was right sort of when women's sports were turning the corner and getting acknowledged. You know people were realizing, 'Hey women can do it too,'" Lisa recalled. "I was fortunate I was born when I was and that it was not long after Title IX which I benefited from."

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One of those days back in Palo Alto, that Stanford striker met a Stanford football player named Ed in the training room. The rest is McCaffrey history. Immediately in the relationship, their shared competitiveness emerged as a trait attention to.

"Eddie and I learned on our honeymoon that if we want to make this a healthy, strong marriage, we will not be playing board games against each other," she said with a laugh.

A love of competition in the McCaffrey household eventually tripled as Lisa and Ed had four sons who quickly showed an interest in sports. Max, Christian, Dylan and Luke all learned how to be elite athletes by internalizing different qualities embodied by their mom and dad.

"You inherit some of those qualities that you watch every day," Luke said. "It's the fierce competitiveness, the pride that a person takes in their daily work and making everything they do their best. That's just something that my mom kind of carried over into us."

Just a couple weeks ago, a product of being in that kind of environment paid off in a euphoric way for the youngest son as Luke was selected by the Commanders with the No. 100 pick in the NFL draft. In what she described as "one of the most special moments for our family," Lisa watched another child get a call that made his dreams come true.

"He had this a million-watt smile," Lisa recalled. "Those couple seconds are engrained in my head. It makes me cry. I will never forget the look on his face."

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Of course, Lisa is adamant that she doesn't have a favorite kid, but her other three sons like to tease otherwise.

"The funny thing is if you ask all the boys who our favorite is they immediately say it's Luke," she said with a laugh.

Being the baby of the family comes with its quirks and special experiences, one of which being the fact that Lisa and Ed got two years at home alone with Luke, which she referred to as "so wonderful."

Though he's flown the coop before for college, Lisa admits it feels different this time as Luke heads out to start his pro career in Washington. And while she knows Luke is capable of getting settled on his own, she wants to fly out and help however she can.

"He doesn't need me to do things, but now I'm at that point where I need him to need me," she said with a smile.

There's no expiration date on being a mom as they say. Though football is all consuming during rookie minicamp, Luke has promised make time today -- Mother's Day -- to give lots of love to the athletically-gifted, outspoken and all-around awesome mom who made him and his brothers who they are.

"Just being the only girl in our family, you don't always get an opportunity to kind of focus on her, which is sad, because she deserves it and we're all just in our own little football world," he said. "We want to take every opportunity to celebrate her though."

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