When Don Beebe’s son Chad was growing up, the long-time NFL wide receiver didn’t push his boy to follow in dad’s footsteps.
Don didn’t show his famous play on Leon Lett in the Super Bowl on a loop. He told Chad that it was fine if he didn’t like sports. But it turns out that football was just in Chad’s DNA.
On Monday, the Vikings announced they signed Chad Beebe after a tryout during rookie minicamp last weekend.
“He was young, so he was born the third or fourth Super Bowl, he was born during that time so my career was over before he kind of really knew,” Don said via phone. “As a father, I never really talked about it. We never sat down and watched old games or anything, so I never really pushed football or sports on him, it was just in his blood, he just loved doing it from a young age.
“I even told him after his first practice when he got in the truck and he was crying because he got hit so hard as a seven-year-old boy, I told him, I said, ‘son you don’t have to play football, it’s not a big deal.’”
Don caught 219 passes and 23 touchdowns in his NFL career with Buffalo, Green Bay and Carolina. He also appeared in six Super Bowls, winning one with Green Bay. On Beebe’s website, there’s a quote in yellow letters from Brett Favre saying the Packers wouldn’t have won without him.
Rather than showing his highlights to Chad growing up, Don waited until his son starting thinking seriously about becoming a Division-I football player to start giving his boy direction. Turns out Chad is quite different as a wide receiver than his old man – though he wore No. 82 in college, just as Don did in the NFL.
“Back in my day, we didn’t have slot guys,” Don said. “I was more of a outside guy running deep go’s and deep post, digs and comebacks. He’s more of that Wes Welker kind of kid. He’s a much better receiving skill guy than I was as far as running routes and ball skill. He’s very good at that.”
Don is known as one of the fastest players in the history of the NFL. He was famously timed at a 4.21 40-yard dash by the New York Jets during the lead up to the draft (he was a third-round pick). The ex-receiver is going on 20 years as a speed trainer with his company House of Speed.
Chad is quicker than fast. He runs a 4.47 – about average for an NFL receiver and a cheetah compared to any of us.
“He’s more quicker and explosive and quicker in and out of his cuts than I was, he’s more elusive than I was. I wasn’t a run-after-the-catch guy,” Don said. “He’s a punt returner, I was a kick returner, so that kind of gives you an idea of the two different styles of receiver. He’s extremely athletic. Being over 5-10 he can dunk a basketball, he can do a lot of things athletically. He’s very gifted and I’m just glad he was able to get a shot with the Vikings.”
At Northern Illinois, Chad caught 64 passes for 930 yards over his career and returned 48 punts for 329 yards.
Chad and Don saw the Vikings as a perfect fit for his services – if he could earn a spot with his tryout. Minnesota did not draft a receiver, leaving a potential spot open to win, They also have a player within the receiving corps who went from undrafted to superstar in Adam Thielen.
“He’s got a great mentor in [Adam Thielen] that did this a couple years ago, now look at him,” Don said. “There will be a lot of similarities between the two of them. Hopefully Chad can stick and make the team. I’m sure those two will have some stories to talk about.”
There is also a Minnesota connection (because there’s always a Minnesota connection). When Don was growing up, his parents took him and his four siblings on vacation in the Brainerd area. The family will be making its 48th trip there this summer.
“He knows he’s in an uphill battle, he knows the odds, he’s just going to go do the best he can for coach Zimmer,” Don said. “I just know this: After three days there, he absolutely loves it.”