SPARTANBURG, S.C. — There were no bags of Cool Ranch Doritos or Oreos being offered Saturday as Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey made his way down the stadium wall draped by screaming fans at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium.
There were just footballs, jerseys, signs and mini football helmets, typical things brought to training camp in hopes of getting them autographed.
That wasn’t the case earlier in the week when McCaffrey ran into 13-year-old Mason Sims at an adjacent field, the teen’s arms stretched over the fence with a homemade sign and Cool Ranch Doritos.
Mason had done his homework, reading a story in which McCaffrey said how much he enjoyed those chips and cookies as his go-to cheat snacks. So he came to camp with the Doritos and a sign proposing a deal, figuring there was no way McCaffrey wouldn’t trade his gloves for them.
Mason wanted the gloves to add to his collection of Carolina souvenirs he began with his father, Greg, who died of COVID-19 in January. He got more than he bargained for as McCaffrey surprised him 24 hours after their initial visit with a pair of autographed cleats.
“It’s funny how the world works,” McCaffrey said Saturday after signing “CMC” to more than 75 items. “I can’t get to everybody here, obviously. You want to sign everything, but don’t have time.
“One of the kids I ended up signing for, it had a big impact on him, so it was a pretty special moment.”
The moment began Thursday when McCaffrey first met Mason with his proposed trade of Doritos for gloves. Only McCaffrey didn’t have his gloves, so he proposed Mason come back the next day with a bag of Oreos to finalize the deal.
That’s when he got McCaffrey’s autograph and cleats.
McCaffrey has been Mason’s favorite player since he was selected with the eighth pick of the 2017 draft. McCaffrey gave him a high-five during his first visit to training camp with his dad.
Mason was with his father at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2019 when McCaffrey became the third player in NFL history to collect 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.
McCaffrey has remained Mason’s favorite player the past two seasons even though the NFL’s highest-paid back — at $16 million a year — has missed 23 of 33 games because of injuries.
Mason wears McCaffrey’s No. 22 for his middle school football team.
“It was amazing for him to take time out of his day to come and speak with him, and he’ll never know how much that means to not just Mason, but to me as well,” his mother, Amanda Sims, told the team website, which wrote the initial story about the deal.
“It was just awesome for my son.”
It was awesome for McCaffrey as well.
“Sometimes you don’t know the impact you can have,” McCaffrey said. “He’s been through a lot the last few years. Just to have a little moment of some Oreos and Doritos together to make his day… it’s funny how the world works.”