ABINGDON — Chad Beasley drew lots of praise and accolades for his play on the football field.
But the former NFL offensive lineman and defensive standout at Virginia Tech and Gate City really does not focus on that.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re at, it’s all about the people that you’re working with,” Beasley said. “When I look back on it, it really doesn’t matter if it was Little League football or playing professionally, it was about the relationships that were built. That was really the greatest accomplishment.”
PLAYING WITH THE GREATS
Beasley didn’t grow up a stranger to football. Far from it.
The son of 10-year NFL veteran and two-time Super Bowl champion Tom Beasley and the nephew of Gate City and Virginia Tech star Bill Houseright, Chad Beasley had plenty of football in his genes.
He spent his younger days with his dad’s friends — who also happened to be members of the Pittsburgh Steelers — hanging around. When the Steelers weren’t on the field pursuing a Super Bowl championship, some came to visit the Beasley house.
“Sometimes there would be guys like Joe Greene or Jack Lambert that would come around,” Beasley said.
But he said he never felt pressured to play football. It simply was something he enjoyed and wanted to do.
“Dad didn’t care what I wanted to do. His only prerequisite was that I was not going to quit,” Beasley said. “Once I committed to a sport, I was going to stay with it for the season.”
Beasley also played baseball and basketball and threw the discus for Gate City’s track and field team. He wrestled in his younger days, but football was always his love when it came to sports.
“It was just kind of a natural thing,” he said. “It was just a natural fit. I loved basketball and I loved throwing the disc, but football was where my heart was.”
An all-state player at Gate City, Beasley was part of one of the Blue Devils’ dominant eras in football, and he teamed with some of the best to play at the Scott County school.
Among them was Josh Shoemaker, a quarterback and star basketball player who went on to play college basketball at Wake Forest.
Beasley and his cousin Jake Houseright also played alongside one another with the Blue Devils before going on to star on the Virginia Tech defense.
“There were some great players on that team,” Beasley said of his high school years. “We were all accountable to each other. We didn’t want to let each other down. No matter who you were, we were accountable to each other.”
ON TO BLACKSBURG
Going from Gate City to Blacksburg for college and football seemed like another natural move for Beasley.
His father, his uncle and a cousin played football for the Hokies, and his sister was on the university’s volleyball team. His grandfather and mother, among other relatives, also were Virginia Tech graduates.
But Beasley was looking to follow his own path.
He had several offers from other NCAA Division I schools. He narrowed the choices to Virginia Tech, Tennessee, Virginia, Clemson and North Carolina State before cutting the list to two: Tech and Tennessee.
“I wanted to narrow it down and focus on my senior year,” Beasley said. “It was a tough decision. I can remember asking my dad if he was in my shoes what he would do. He said, ‘Son, I’m not in your shoes.’ ”
Ultimately, Beasley decided to follow the path his family members had trod and signed with Virginia Tech.
After redshirting in 1997, Beasley had a terrific four years with the Hokies. His freshman campaign included a win over Alabama in the Music City Bowl, a season that became a precursor to a fantastic year that ended with Virginia Tech’s appearance in the national championship game.
Though the Hokies fell to Florida State 46-29 in that title game, played at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Beasley said he still cherishes that year.
“The success we had on the field was great, but the relationships that were built that year and every year there were greater. There were relationships that started then that have continued to today,” he said.
The following season, the Hokies went 11-1, including a win over Clemson in the Gator Bowl.
After a successful senior season, Beasley — a two-time All-Big East selection — was ready for another move up the football ladder.
CHANGES AT THE NEXT LEVEL
Minnesota selected Beasley in the seventh round of the NFL draft, and Vikings coach Mike Tice wanted him to move from the defensive line to the offensive side of the ball.
“That set me on one of the most challenging journeys I’ve ever been on,” Beasley recalled.
He had a difficult time adjusting to playing on the offensive line and Minnesota put him on the practice squad. Not too long after that, Cleveland came calling.
Beasley credits then-Browns assistant line coach Mike Sullivan, now on the Tennessee Titans’ staff, as aiding his transition from defensive lineman to offensive lineman for three seasons of football at the highest level.
“It was interesting,” Beasley noted. “I had the opportunity to start some ballgames. It was great to play at that level.”
These days Beasley and his family are enjoying a quieter lifestyle outside the fast-paced NFL. He, his wife, Ashley, and their three young children live in Abingdon.
“It’s a great life. I’m really blessed and I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Beasley said.