It’s a different version of the Ed McCaffrey Football Camp, but an Ed McCaffrey Football Camp nevertheless.
In the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a still-skeptical public and a last-minute landing of a facility, the popular former Bronco’s annual gathering of instruction for young players opened a four-day run at Mullen on Monday and it was difficult to tell it from past years.
“Finding a facility obviously was the biggest challenge with what was going on in the state,” camp director Tyler Johnson said. “So was the timeline and how do you run it safely within the guidelines?”
He added: “In some regards, (the pandemic) made it easier and in some others it took some of the fun aspects out of it, but we’re excited to do it.”
Simply being able to keep the camp going in 2020, McCaffrey said, was huge and in more ways than one.
“Yeah, the kids are so excited, the parents are excited and the kids have been kind of stuck inside for months now, and I think it’s healthy for kids to get out in the sun to exercise and to have fun,” the three-time Super Bowl winner (two with Denver) said. “Obviously, we’re making sure we follow all of the safety protocols here in the state of Colorado. So the camp’s a little different this year.”
Mostly for players ages 8-12 and dotted with 13-year-olds, the current camp also is down to one session as opposed to two per day, which limited the convenience for families, and there were 90-plus participants instead of the more than 200 in some past years, but “the kids are excited, they’re running around and having fun, and it’s a great reprieve not only for them, but for their families who have been stuck inside for way too long,” McCaffrey said.
Such is the case for Oscar Maynez, an aspiring Mullen player who will be a freshman. He said he couldn’t pass up the chance to learn from an established professional.
“Honestly,” Maynez said, “he was a wide receiver and that’s my dream – to be a wide receiver in the NFL.”
Parent Brian Owen brought his son, Breckin, who will be a fourth-grader, to the camp and had no complaints.
“It’s a good deal,” he said. “Highly trained coaches, well-known name, well known school … yeah!”
As for his son, the 9-year-old said “I’m glad I came to the camp. I think I learned a lot.”
The camp occurs from 8:30-11:30 a.m. each day and runs through Thursday.
Helping McCaffrey run the camp are some of his current and furloughed assistants at the University of Northern Colorado as well as former players at Valor Christian.
McCaffrey’s oldest son, Max, who will work with his father at UNC, was on hand on Monday. Younger sons Dylan (Michigan) and Luke (Nebraska) had to return to school, but Christian, the All-Pro running back who recently signed an extension with the Carolina Panthers, will attempt to make the camp on Thursday.
A day earlier, Ed and Christian teamed with USAA for a surprise visit to a Marine and his daughter, who also is serving, on Father’s Day.