CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey doesn’t hide that his father, former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey, played a major role in who he is as a man and a football player.
“I always wanted to be like my dad," McCaffrey said.
So the two couldn’t wait when USAA and the USO of North Carolina asked them to be a part of a Father’s Day surprise for a military dad and his daughter, both of whom are Panthers fans.
It happened virtually when they were introduced to Gunnery Sergeant Jeremy and his adopted daughter, Senior Airman Ella. Because both are active duty -- Jeremy at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, and Ella at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia -- their last names couldn’t be used.
But judging by the video McCaffrey posted on social media, the surprise was the perfect Father’s Day gift for both.
Dads and father figures play such a huge role in the paths we choose. Great to work with @USAA and the @USOofNC to surprise a @Marine and his daughter - who also chose to serve - for #FathersDay. Thanks to all those who guide and inspire us. #SaluteToService pic.twitter.com/0AaLP8z1ub— Christian McCaffrey (@CMC_22) June 17, 2020
“There aren’t many higher callings," a teary-eyed Jeremy said on the video. “I have deployed. I had a lot of responsibility on my name, and there’s not really a greater calling out there than to be a family man, to be a father."
Said Ella: “For me, it’s very meaningful because he chose to be my dad."
McCaffrey has spent a lot of time with his dad the past few months during the coronavirus pandemic. They’ve trained together, along with McCaffrey’s brothers Luke and Dylan, at their childhood home in Colorado.
“A lot of people say the only reason I’m good and I’m playing is because of my dad," McCaffrey said in a 2015 interview with SI. “I felt like that was some pressure, but at the same time I realized it was such a blessing. My father did nothing ... but support me."
This past week, the father-son combo offered support to a father-daughter combo serving the United States.
“You guys are our heroes," Ed said in the video.