Gridiron Lessons from USANA Athlete Chad Beebe
By BEN RASKIN
His family teases he was born wearing football gear.
Chad Beebe—son of NFL great Don Beebe—has been strapping on the pads, catching impossible passes, and making a lifetime of spectacular plays. And when not competing, he’s a quiet leader who’s confident in himself, committed to his beliefs, and a lover of the game.
Born in Buffalo, Chad grew up in Illinois and around football. Yet, his first gridiron encounter didn’t go quite as planned. He came home from his first practice at 7 years old crying because he got whacked. Chad wanted to quit. His father said he could as long as he went to one more practice.
“Dad said, ‘Let’s go back tomorrow. And if you get a chance to get a clean hit on somebody, go ahead and hit them,’” Chad says. “I did it and my face lit up. That’s all it took—getting one good hit.”
His football genes quickly showed. Chad had the mind and body for the game. Catching the ball came naturally to him and he loved the gridiron principles and traditions. Countless dinners were spent talking with his father about the game, and he started to see his future as a player. Even though playing in the NFL is almost unobtainable for most high schoolers, Chad worked tirelessly to learn his routes, hustle on the field, and be a good teammate.
“I’m not a real hooray kind of guy,” Chad says. “I like to lead by example, always trying to do the right thing the best way I can.”
His effort and commitment to excellence paid off when Chad accepted a scholarship at Northern Illinois University (NIU). It was an epic step towards playing in the biggest stadiums.
The football legacy may run in Chad’s family, but grit is earned by getting after it. Without much of a break after high school graduation, Chad reported to the NIU training camp mid-summer. He endured one of the most grueling preseasons of his life. College football is definitely a jump up from high school, and playing in Division I meant tough competition.
To make the stakes even higher that summer, the coaching staff who recruited Chad to NIU had left. He remembers calling his father for advice. They both agreed he should honor his commitment. And though he had walked into a completely different situation than expected, his word meant something and he was going to gut it out.
The schedule was brutal. The team got up at 5:00 a.m. and went to breakfast, forcing down food for fuel whether hungry or not. Then it was off to meetings, fighting to stay awake. Finally, it was on to the practice field, running drills for two hours before finishing up with a lifting session in the gym. Lunch offered a little break, backed by another two-hour practice, followed with evening meetings, and crawling to bed at 10:00 p.m.
Best of all, it started all over again the next day.
“Each team does it differently,” Chad says. “It’s physically demanding and mentally taxing. That’s the beauty of training camp—you’re with the guys for every waking moment, growing a bond because you survived the rigorous schedule together.”
Through the pain Chad didn’t just survive, he thrived. He became a squad leader and continued to hone his craft. NIU became an experience of a lifetime, forging friendships he holds dear to this day. And it’s all because he was willing to trust the process, listen to his coaches, and do the work. For Chad, good things happen when you honor your word.
Bottom of the Pyramid
Draft Day came and went. Chad wasn’t selected. Making an NFL roster is the apex of professional sports and Chad desperately wanted the chance to prove he could compete at the highest level. His disappointment was short-lived—48 hours later a call came from the Indianapolis Colts to report as a mini camp walk-on.
With luck being a combination of preparation and timing, even better news came Chad’s way. The Minnesota Vikings wanted to look at him, too. This was his dream opportunity. Chad packed his bags and drove to Minneapolis overnight to begin the most important three days of his life.
“I was going to be a tryout guy,” he says “Typically, teams just want bodies to throw into the mix to see who can fill in missing spots. But this was my opportunity.”
A lifetime of football came down to showcasing his abilities. Day one was intense. The talent stepping out of college and into the NFL is huge. Chad knew he could compete, but did the Vikings?
On day two, Chad began to sense “some eyes on me.” The wide receiver coach took time to coach him up—run this route, break at this yard, and other tricks of elite receivers. “Touches,” (aka passes) were thrown his way, with preparation equating to perfect timing. By the third day, Chad began to believe something good may come.
It all paid off when he was called into the coach’s office and offered a free agent contract. He could now call himself a professional football player!
“Being offered a contract was a culmination of feelings,” Chad says. “I knew I had the ability and had worked hard to make it to this point, but sometimes your feet get taken out underneath you. This time, I made it work.”
Chad’s focus and drive is a lesson to never give up on your dream. Setbacks are moments to grow and opportunities to work harder. His journey to the NFL was infused with faith, commitment to his craft, and a singular focus to achieve his goals. It’s an example others can follow at any level.
Do Your 1/11
Every snap of a football is an eleven-on-eleven affair. The offense is dead set on advancing the ball from the line of scrimmage to the endzone and the defense is equally determined to stop them. Each player has a responsibility. If one man doesn’t hold up their end, the play, and maybe even the game, is lost.
As a wide receiver, Chad acts on the play the coach calls and the quarterback executes. He may run a route down field or block for the run. And if the QB likes what he sees in defense, Chad could be thrown a spiral pass to catch and run like hell toward the goal posts.
On the field, all players give their all—even if they never touch the football. As 1/11 of the squad, Chad knows he needs to bear his share of the load.
“Even the times I don’t get the ball, it’s about the effort I put in,” he says. “That’s what I love about football, it’s a team sport. You have to do your 1/11 and help the other guys. That’s all that matters. You have to have humility and know it’s not just about one person.”
Your teammates expect you to work, play hard, and give it your all. You don’t have to be a professional athlete to see how this could be useful at home, work, or in life.
Stack the Blocks
It’s an understatement to say football is a rough sport. The biggest and toughest athletes on the planet play at unimaginable speeds and collisions are what we love about the game. Injuries have surrounded Chad’s career from the moment he first strapped on the pads. The best way to deal with the devastating hits and wear-and-tear of the game is to keep your body in peak condition.
Chad works incredibly hard to be ready for each season. He’s meticulous about his diet and supplements. There’s cross-training, long weight room sessions, and quiet moments of prayer. A commitment to physical excellence has helped the recovery from each injury.
“Last year was my third year in the NFL and my first healthy one,” Chad says. “I’ve missed games because of injury, but my point of view is to flip the script. Do the work and come back even better than before.”
It’s impossible to compare Chad’s physical regimen to the average person, but you can glean something from his training philosophy. He calls it stacking the blocks. Most people would burn out if they tried to mimic Chad’s daily routine, but you can get results if you make small changes every month by stacking each block of success.
Chad suggests picking one new thing each month. For example, don’t do the length of a Tour de France the first time you straddle a stationary bike. Ride easily for 20 minutes. Take breaks if it gets too hard—but stay with it. Stick with it for a month and then extend your ride to 30 minutes with more resistance. Success builds on success, and in time, you’ll start to feel the results.
“Consistency is huge,” Chad says. “You don’t want to bite off too much at first because you’re not going to be able to obtain it and then you’ll get frustrated.”
For the next month, maybe work in light weightlifting or try giving up soda. Stack each month’s success and you’ll move toward your fitness goals. Chad encourages anyone looking to make a change to start small, stay consistent, and keep growing each month.
Punt Returning Papa
Punt returns might be one of the most difficult plays in football and it’s where Chad excels. He lines up about 40–50 yards waiting for the kick. All of his guys are on the line of scrimmage and he’s all by himself. In an instant, the ball is snapped and propelled straight into the sky. This is where training meets 20 years of muscle memory.
“You’re staring straight into the sky with the ball just hanging there,” Chad says. “In less than four seconds, you have to know who is blocking for you, who is running free, judge the wind, see where the ball is going, and make sure you can catch it. Then, you gotta run!”
Because Chad is passionate about football, taking care of his body, and he’s been a student of the game his entire life, he knows to trust his instincts. This knowledge has served him well and is just the training he needs for the next stage of life: fatherhood.
He and wife Mackenzie welcomed Mila Jo this summer. His daughter is his new pride and joy, with every day bringing new challenges and discoveries. Being a dad is the next step in a remarkable life, and Chad cherishes every moment.
“You’ve got a little human being that is completely dependent upon you,” he says. “It’s a wonderful gift, and I’m loving it.”
Chad never stops in his pursuit to better himself and his game. His positive attitude radiates an energy that anything is possible if you believe in yourself and work hard. While he doesn’t know where he’ll be playing next season, bet on Chad to do what it takes to get the job done.
7 Facts About Chad Beebe
Why he trusts USANA: USANA products are made to highest levels of purity standards, and I need to be incredibly careful about what I put into my body.
What music inspires you? I’m a mood listener. I like to put my music on shuffle and see where it goes, but mostly, I get inspiration from worship music.
Toughest away game? It’s a really loud atmosphere. Feels like the air is shaking and your ears are ringing. It’s an awesome place to play.
Best breakfast? My wife makes these awesome sweet potatoes with seasoning. I love mixing her potatoes with three over easy eggs, bacon, and sausage to make a homemade hash.
How do you take your coffee? I like espresso blend coffee mixed with coconut ghee and a little bit of coconut whip for sweetness.
How to follow Chad: Check out Chad’s adventures on and off the football field on Instagram, @chadbeebee12.
*The featured athlete is a dedicated product user who has received USANA products and/or compensation for his partnership.