Despite growing up in a football family and coaching at the FCS level for well over a decade, Kurt Beathard had never been to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All that changed last weekend when the Illinois State offensive coordinator experienced the event of a lifetime.
What prompted his trip to pro football's shrine in Canton, Ohio? Well, it isn't everyday that your father is inducted as one of the all-time greats in the game.
"I thought I would be fine with it," Beathard said Tuesday at ISU's Media Day of his father Bobby's induction. "I’ve been happy about it for the last six, seven, eight months or whatever it’s been, but when you’re actually there in the moment and see what the yellow jacket means to everybody in the NFL and with the families, it really is as joyful of a thing that I’ve ever been a part of."
This from a man who coached in the FCS national championship game just three seasons ago.
Dad's amazing credentials
For the record, Bobby Beathard's list of accomplishments easily made him worth of induction. Over the course of a 38-year NFL career wearing many hats, Beathard saw his teams play in seven Super Bowls (winning four times). As a scout, director of player personnel and general manager, he helped build the Kansas City Chiefs on the 1960s, the Miami Dolphins of the 1970s, the Washington Redskins of the 1980s and the San Diego Chargers of the 1990s.
Bobby Beathard's younger brother Pete was quarterback at USC and later played in the NFL. His sons include Kurt, Jeff (Carolina Panthers scout) and Casey (country music songwriter who among his many works penned "The Boys of Fall" for Kenny Chesney). His grandsons include C.J. (San Francisco 49ers quarterback), Jeffrey (former Appalachian State wide receiver) and Tucker (Nashville singer-songwriter).
"Not all of them (family) could make it because of prior commitments, but there were probably 20+ along with another 20 or so friends of the family," Kurt said.
'How could you not?'
With NFL training camps in session, Kurt's nephew C.J. was a question mark.
"He (San Francisco head coach Kyle Shanahan) made him leave, pretty much. Shanahan said, ‘hey you need to go to this thing,'" Kurt said, "I said, 'C.J., aren't you glad you were here?' He definitely was."
Meanwhile, Kurt had approached ISU head coach Brock Spack months ago about leaving Redbird camp to attend the ceremony. Spack immediately gave his blessing.
"Seriously? How could you not?’" Spack said.
For Kurt, the trip was a whirlwind.
"I had never been there. I want to go back and have more time and really enjoy it," Kurt said, "The schedule I had (was hectic). I flew in (Saturday), got taken to my dad’s party with family and friends and we were off on the bus to the enshrinement. Spent some time with my family, went to bed and got in the plane to get home (Sunday morning)."
Like his brothers and other family members, Kurt all learned something from his father's multi-faceted career.
"You see his passion for it. You see the way he evaluates talent," he explained. "I was blessed to be around great coaches my whole life. Whether I paid attention as much as I should have, I learned about discipline and passion and about being respectful not only to the people in the community but to the game too. That’s what most of these coaches enjoy about it."
Spack, his staff and players all watched the highlights of Beathard's induction.
“We walked in after dinner and it was on TV," senior quarterback Jake Kolbe said. "It was pretty cool. They showed a picture of the whole family that Coach Beathard was in. It’s something how few people actually make it into the Hall of Fame and your coach’s dad is in there.”