CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Contrary to popular belief, Christian McCaffrey does not eat, drink and sleep football. The Carolina Panthers running back is passionate about the game and about what he does as well as any multi-threat player in the NFL. His workout regimen is second to none.
But McCaffrey, 22, is more well-rounded than you might think. Since the regular season ended, he has flown to Paris for Fashion Week and introduced a documentary film on German football that he co-produced with Nick Alfieri.
More on those later.
This week, McCaffrey is in Atlanta, where he will present Sgt. Alexander Somerson two tickets for Sunday's Super Bowl LIII (6:30 p.m. ET, CBS) at Mercedes-Benz Stadium as part of a USAA and Wounded Warrior project.
So yes, he's been busy.
"I just don't show it a lot," McCaffrey told ESPN.com about his activities outside of football. "People find out if I have to post something like [the documentary teaser]. I train every single day. I train from about 10 [a.m.] to maybe 12:30 or 1 [p.m.], then get some treatment.
"So, you've got a lot of time left in the day. I keep myself sane with stuff that's fun and not physical."
McCaffrey had extra time to jump-start his offseason because the Panthers (7-9) failed to make the playoffs and because he was snubbed by the Pro Bowl.
Not being selected to the Pro Bowl admittedly stung McCaffrey since he had one of the best all-around seasons by a running back in NFL history. His 107 receptions were a league single-season record for a back, and his 1,965 all-purpose yards ranked third this season behind Saquon Barkley (2,028) and Ezekiel Elliott (2,001).
He's only the third player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards and have at least 100 receptions. The other two are Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson and Matt Forte.
"There are no limits on what Christian can do," Tomlinson told ESPN.com in late November.
Judging by what McCaffrey has done thus far this offseason, that goes for off the field as well as on it.
The Somerson story
Sgt. Somerson was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after two tours of Iraq as a member of the 101st Airborne Division. That got him involved in the Wounded Warrior Project, which ultimately led to a trip to Bank of America Stadium on Dec. 22 to watch the Panthers go through their final walk-through before playing the Atlanta Falcons.
That's when Somerson met McCaffrey.
That was special enough, but what made it more special for Somerson was the backstory.
Somerson was an 18-year-old "geek kid" in 1996, working as a television station intern in Minnesota with an eye on broadcast journalism. His first assignment was a game between the Vikings and the Denver Broncos, the same team on which McCaffrey's father, Ed, was a star receiver.
I know you can't tell, but he's smiling on the inside after I just dropped 2 tickets on 'em to #SBLIII. Honored to work with @USAA and @WWP and give @Army SGT Alex Somerson a chance to see the big game. That's how I #HonorThroughAction and my #SaluteToService. pic.twitter.com/4rL3vnMZqk— Christian McCaffrey (@run__cmc) January 16, 2019
The game came down to an acrobatic 5-yard touchdown catch by McCaffrey that gave the Broncos a 21-17 victory.
"It was the first time I got to go into a sports locker room," Somerson recalled. "[Christian's] dad was the first person I got to interview. I didn't ask him any questions because I had nothing to say.
"His dad actually looked at me and asked if I had any questions. He gave me that little smirk because obviously I was geeked out."
Somerson followed Ed's career until it ended in 2003 and has since followed Christian's career from high school to Stanford and now with the Panthers. He was thrilled when the Panthers made Christian the No. 8 pick of the 2017 draft.
"It's interesting how it all came full circle," said Somerson, who lives outside of Charlotte.
One could argue McCaffrey got just as big a thrill over meeting Somerson. Helping the military has become one of the running back's passions because it has helped him put tough losses into perspective and realize what he does for a living is a game -- nothing nearly as important as the job of those wearing military uniforms.
"It's life-or-death situations," McCaffrey said of the military. "It's not win-or-lose situations. ... I don't think people can grasp the ultimate effect of that with people's families and friends. The sacrifice is not over."
Also of relevance, one of McCaffrey's biggest mentors "in the world" earned a Purple Heart while serving. He met Spencer Milo, a medically retired Army veteran, while training in Colorado. Milo shared his story of being diagnosed with PTSD and traumatic brain injury after several tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The two have stayed in contact.
"I always admired his outlook on life and the way he approaches it," McCaffrey said. "As a football player, [I am] constantly taking care of my body. ... If these guys are going overseas and getting injured and coming back and having problems, they deserve the best medical attention. So that's kind of where my passion for helping out comes from."
McCaffrey minored in film at Stanford, so when college roommate Joey Alfieri told him three years ago about a documentary his brother was working on, there was no hesitation to get involved.
Last week, McCaffrey introduced a teaser to "Unicorn Town," the underdog story about a football team in Germany that is expected to go public in 2019.
So proud to be a part of such a wonderful film! Thanks to @nalfamale for allowing me to be a part of such an inspiring story! Here's the teaser! Stay tuned for the official trailer coming soon! pic.twitter.com/FDGRssgP6j— Christian McCaffrey (@run__cmc) January 23, 2019
"He's really the brains behind the whole operation," McCaffrey said of Nick. "He went overseas and filmed it, edited it and produced it. He would just send clips to me periodically and say, 'Hey, what do you think here and there?' Most of it was telling him he did a great job."
Alfieri sent clips to McCaffrey via YouTube. When they made their final edits recently, "We kind of stopped and said 'Dude, this is really good. This could be something.'"
McCaffrey wouldn't say what his best edit suggestion was for fear of giving away "some of the stuff," but promised to reveal more details once the documentary is published.
You can hear the excitement in his voice when talking about it.
"Other than football, music and movies I've always had a passion [for]," McCaffrey said.
"I just hope I can work with Ryan one day," McCaffrey said with a laugh. "That's my thing."
Paris Fashion Week
Quarterback Cam Newton is the first person who comes to mind when you think of fashion and the Panthers. His outfits, like the zebra-print Versace pants he wore when arriving in California for Super Bowl 50 after the 2015 season, sometimes draws as much attention as his play.
One of Newton's signature statements is loafers with no socks, a very Southern thing. McCaffrey, who grew up in Denver and California, took a page from that when he made a trip to Paris -- his first trip to Europe, too -- for Fashion Week.
"That was a huge fashion statement," McCaffrey said. "I got mixed reviews. We'll see if I do that again."
Hermes flew McCaffrey and his mother, Lisa, to Paris as "kind of her early birthday gift," and it "was a blast."
As for whether McCaffrey learned enough from that trip to compete with Newton for team fashion guru remains to be seen.
"I'm still working on that," McCaffrey said. "He's got to show me a few things. I'm not there yet."
But with eight months of offseason before the 2019 season kicks off, McCaffrey has plenty of time to broaden his horizons even more.