If you’re a young football player, there are plenty of advantages to having a dad who played in the NFL. They can teach you the same fundamentals, mindset, skills and strategy that helped them reach the pinnacle of the sport.
But they can also teach you some sneakier ways to gain an edge. That was certainly the case for Carolina Panthers rookie running back Christian McCaffrey, whose father, Ed, was a Pro Bowl receiver with the Denver Broncos.
Ed built his game around speed. According to a 1998 Sports Illustrated article, he once ran two consecutive 4.38 40-Yard Dashes during a pre-draft workout. Though Ed was blazing fast, he wanted to find ways to become even quicker. He figured the lighter and more streamlined his equipment was, the faster and more elusive he’d be. From the aforementioned SI article:
What truly sets McCaffrey apart is what he wears—or doesn’t
wear—once he takes the field. To rid himself of unnecessary
weight, he defaces his uniform. He cuts out the lining, belt
buckle and pockets of his pants, punches holes in his jersey,
even slices off all but a half inch of the band above his
athletic supporter, creating what amounts to a G-string jockstrap.
The only padding McCaffrey wears is a discontinued model of
shoulder pads (Wilson’s 77-I Aggressor) that, according to
Broncos equipment manager Doug West, ‘you wouldn’t even put on a
junior high kid. I’ve tried to take his pads from him, because
they’re right on the borderline of safety, but he won’t let me.’
Clearly, Ed was a master of altering equipment to gain an edge. But SI doesn’t mention the trick he introduced to a 7-year-old Christian during his first year of youth football.
“When I was 7 years old, he took my pads. I looked at my pads and they kinda looked different. There was double-sided tape—[the kind] that tapes walls together—on my pads. He’s like ‘Hey, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to tape your jersey to your pads so no one can grab your jersey.’ I’m 7 years old, you know. No one does that stuff. But it worked out man, no one ever jersey tackled me,” McCaffrey told STACK. “He taught me a lot of stuff that he’d did, and little stuff like that, I’d always do growing up.”
While we can’t advocate chopping up your pads as that may put your safety at risk, there’s nothing in the rulebook against the double-sided tape trick. Give it a try in your next game and maybe you’ll find that you’re a little more elusive.