HIGHLANDS RANCH — Ed McCaffrey says he purposefully took a step back from football over the past decade, not wanting to draw away from the experiences his sons had as they started their own careers in high school.
He's now ready to dive back in, even though he acknowledges the timing isn't perfect.
McCaffrey, the 13-year NFL veteran who won three Super Bowls and spent nine years with the Denver Broncos, was formally introduced as the new football coach at Valor Christian on Tuesday.
"I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," McCaffrey said. "I don't take it for granted."
McCaffrey said he was "as shocked as anybody" when former coach Rod Sherman stepped down in December, and that he started to work with the school to form a search committee for a new coach.
"Then I slept on that for a day, and thought, 'Wait a minute, why am I not applying for the position?'" said McCaffrey, who coached his sons' youth teams. "And I did some soul searching, and I asked my wife (Lisa) and kids, and I was like, 'You guys know I have more fun coaching than doing anything else in the world.' It's my passion.
"This is the sport that I love, and I feel like I can contribute more, and serve and give more to the young men of this school through the sport of football more than anything else," McCaffrey added. "And I'm ready for it."
McCaffrey's youngest son, Luke, is set to be a senior at the school, and was a major contributor last season.
"The timing, honestly, would have been better if it was a year from now," McCaffrey said, adding that he plans to coach at the school "as long as they'll have me."
Ed and Lisa's three other sons — Max and Christian in the NFL; Dylan at the University of Michigan — will be playing on Saturdays and Sundays in the fall. But McCaffrey says he is used to a that schedule, and hasn't missed a Valor football game in the past 10 years.
"I've done the Friday, Saturday, Sunday thing for six years," he said.
The fact that his sons are growing up and moving out was another reason McCaffrey applied for the job.
"For all you guys who have kids and you're empty-nesters, there's a huge void in your life, and this is a way for me to fill it — to still mentor and influence young men, just like I have my own sons — and I can continue to coach the game that I love," he said.
Time and again on Tuesday, McCaffrey kept coming back to the importance of high school athletics in the lives of young adults.
"So many of the guys I played with said it was the most fun and exciting times in their lives," he said. "That's what we're trying to create here. We're trying to ... bring that feeling of brotherhood to the kids to make it a memorable experience. If we can prepare some kids to play after high school, great, but more than anything, we're hoping to leave a lasting impression on them.
"If we can have a good influence on these kids at these ages, hopefully it will help them overcome the adversity and hardship they're going to have in their life," McCaffrey added.
His goal as the next football coach at Valor Christian?
"To hopefully create an incredible experience for high school football players, one that they'll remember for the rest of their lives — one that they'll talk about when they're my age," McCaffrey said.