Father-son, coach-player -- Beebes share several tight-knit bonds
Second of two parts
If Don Beebe had his way, his son might never have known that he had a 9-year NFL career as a wide receiver.
Those highlights of Beebe's 23 touchdowns and 6 Super Bowls?
"It wasn't talked about unless I brought it up," said Chad, now in his third year playing wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings.
"I always had to force it out of him whether it be stories or certain plays of his. After getting older and asking him why, he said he didn't want me to think I had to play football."
Except that's exactly what Chad wanted to do, even as a 5-foot-1 freshman at Aurora Christian who barely weighed 100 pounds. He told his dad, also the coach at Aurora Christian, he wanted to play football in the biggest stadiums.
Don said OK, I'll train you, but it's going to take sacrifice. Giving up basketball. Getting up early. Working year-round.
Chad checked all those boxes. He's now 26, overcoming multiple season-ending injuries to enjoy his best year yet with the Vikings.
Beebe has 16 receptions for 136 yards. He caught a pair of passes Sunday in an overtime win over Jacksonville, a week after he scored the game-winning TD to beat Carolina.
He still knows where to go to for advice.
"Even during my stint here so far I have continued to learn a majority of what I know from my father," Chad said. "I call my dad to this day about certain routes and what I should be looking for in certain coverages, and what I should be doing better. If I don't use my father as a source I'd be crazy."
That's great with Don now, but when Chad was younger the dad made sure not to push football.
"We never talked football," Don said. "I knew it was going to be hard enough for him. I didn't want to put that undue pressure on him."
Back in high school, Don worked on Chad's speed and strength training, his skill set, knowing how to get open and run routes. Chad developed an elite understanding of the game.
"That kid forced me to train harder," Don said. "I never saw that passion waiver."
While both play the same position and are similar in size (5-10) and weight (185 to 190 pounds), the Beebes have opposite roles. Don played on the outside and stretched defenses with speed; Chad is in the slot and impresses with his route running.
Don said it means a lot when he hears Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen call Chad one of the best route runners he's seen. A Kaneland graduate, Don is now the head coach at Aurora University.
"Watching Chad this fall has gotten us through this fall, that's for sure," said Beebe, whose normal football season at AU was postponed to a 5-game spring season, and because of COVID the family hasn't been able to watch Chad play in person.
"We can't even get in the stadium to watch which is kind of sad because your kid is playing in the National Football League and they are very short careers. ... He scores his first touchdown and mom and dad are on a couch in Aurora," Don said.
That disappointment pales to the happiness the Beebes have to see Chad living out his NFL dream. Especially after overcoming season-ending injuries the last 10 years -- three in high school, five in college at NIU and the last two with the Vikings.
"How he is, where he is today, is a true testament to his faith and who he is as a person," Don said. "He doesn't give up, he keeps picking himself up off the mat. He would be a great person to stand on stage and deliver this because everybody lives this, every day people are ready to quit, ready to give up. That's what I'm so proud of that he has persevered through so much heartache."
Chad said he wouldn't have been able to without his family's support.
"I think from a young age my dad and mom instilled in me an attitude of pressing on," Chad said. "Life is always going to throw you things you weren't expecting and it's just trying to overcome those things and rely on your faith in Christ as your No. 1 thing and family second.
"He was always a father first and a coach second. The greatest dad and a heck of a coach too."