ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — In the late stages of Patrick Surtain's 11-year NFL career, the future foundation of another career in professional football was put in place.
Surtain spent the first seven years of his career in Miami, where he earned three Pro Bowl nods and a first-team All-Pro selection. And, more importantly to this story, he and his wife, Michelle, welcomed their son Pat Surtain II into the world in 2000.
It didn't take long for it to become evident that the younger Surtain had football in his DNA. He asked all sorts of questions as a young kid to his father about the game — and he showed interest even before he could internalize the finer points of the sport.
"I didn't push him into it, but I wanted him to be around what I was doing," Surtain told DenverBroncos.com after his son was selected by the Broncos this year. "He gradually leaned toward it. I'm glad that he did. I'm glad that I took him out there when he was a year old. … He didn't know what was going on [at that young age], but he wanted me to throw the ball with him all the time."
By the time the elder Surtain was traded to the Chiefs in 2005, Pat was getting to the age where he was showing an increased interest in the game. And during one of Surtain's four years in Kansas City, his son was able to enjoy a moment that put the future first-round pick's NFL career in motion.
Ahead of a home game at then-Arrowhead Stadium, Surtain and several of his teammates were joined at midfield for the coin toss by their respective children. Surtain II was just 5 or 6 years old at the time, but his father remembers the experience leaving a lasting impact.
"I think that's when he really, really started to love the game," Surtain said. "Obviously he'd been around the game with the Dolphins since he was 1 year old, but with him going out there and seeing the atmosphere and the players, I think that's when he started falling in love with it.
"That's when he really started playing football. He started at 5. That recollection is probably his first memory of being on the big stage. I think that propelled him to want to play football."
The younger Surtain now calls that his favorite memory of his dad's NFL career, though there were certainly plenty of fun moments as he grew up inside an NFL locker room.
"I looked at them like giants," Surtain II said. "When I look back at it, it's funny just to be in the same situation now."
After the Broncos selected Surtain II with the ninth-overall pick, he credited his dad's career for helping prepare him for his own likely NFL success. He said spending time in the locker room helped him mature and understand the dedication required to play the game.
"I learned each and every day at an early age, and here I am today," Surtain II said.
Surtain II has relied on the advice of his father as he navigated an accolade-filled career at Alabama before turning his attention to the NFL. His father coached him at the Pee-Wee, middle school and high school levels, and Surtain said he was always there to offer advice "when he needed to hear the real things."
"I was kind of hard on him, because you want him to be as good as you early, but I knew it was going to take some work," Surtain said.
As a youngster around an NFL team, though, Surtain II also had the opportunity to learn from plenty of the game's greats.
"I have a lot of football mentors," Surtain II said. "My father's teammates, like [Hall of Fame DE] Jason Taylor and [former CB] Sam Madison. I learned a lot from them. Another is [Hall of Fame CB] Ty Law. I can name plenty of guys, but they all taught me a lot — the ins and outs of the game, to always stay focused, stay humble and to keep on working hard. They told me that and it has stuck with me ever since."
When the draft process arrived for the Broncos' newest cornerback, it was far different than the one his father went through in 1998 as he came out of Southern Miss.
"I think the process was much longer with Pat," Surtain said. "Obviously things were different back than in '98. I remember me having a draft party at my mom's house. I thought I was going to go first round. I fell to the second round and the 44th pick. With Pat, from Day 1, you kind of knew he was going to go in the first round — you just didn't know which pick. It's just been a whirlwind with all the television coverage, so many mock drafts. It got kind of tiring after awhile. I think his was much more exciting than mine."
The moment his name was called, though, was worth the long process.
"It's more nerve-wracking with it being your son than yourself," Surtain said. "Just to see the emotion on this face and to have family around, that's what it's all about. Really, really happy for him, because I know the hard work and the dedication it took for him to get to this point."
Surtain II will now have the chance to carve out his own NFL career, and he said he hopes to be the same sort of role model to other young kids that his dad was for him.
On the field, it will be a challenging task to match his father's accomplishments, as Pro Bowls and All-Pro nods don't come easy. As the highest-selected defensive back in team history since the AFL-NFL merger, the expectations may be even higher than those three Pro Bowl nods.
"Obviously I'm better right now because he hasn't played a snap in the NFL, but he has the potential to be really, really special," Surtain said with a smile. "But he has to prove it, and he knows that. That's going to be my message to him: Go prove it. I know he's looking forward to it."
As Surtain II tries to do just that, he'll have his father — the former Chief — in his corner with no qualms about supporting a formal rival.
"I'm Team Surtain," he said. "There's no rivalry. I'm Team Surtain, Team Broncos. [There's] just a swell of emotions, seeing what he's come from to the player he's become. But more than the player, [it's about] the man that he's become."
For father and son, these NFL-related moments — both past and future — are about far more than Pro Bowls and All-Pros. They're part of a bond formed on the practice fields of Miami, Kansas City, Tuscaloosa and now Denver. This family that has enjoyed a pair of NFL careers is seemingly luckier because of its ability to enjoy them together.
"[I'm] extremely proud as a father," Surtain said. "Obviously as a parent, you always want your kids to exceed your professionally and he's in the same profession. He went in the first round, I went in the second round. It's just remarkable to see his growth and where he's come from to now being the ninth pick in the draft.
"I'm excited to see where this leads to."