A Family Legacy:
Pat Surtain II is Following in His Father's Footsteps While Forging His Own Path

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Like most kids who grow up with dreams of playing in the NFL, Pat Surtain II hoped to one day see himself in his favorite video game.

It was not the primary goal, but merely a reflection of it. To see himself in "Madden NFL" would mean that he had made it to the highest echelon of the sport he loves.

It wasn't just about seeing his name in an iconic video game. If that were the case, his dream would have already been realized when Surtain II's father, three-time Pro Bowler and 2002 first-team All-Pro Patrick Surtain, was included in the game year after year, from the time Surtain II was born until he was 8 years old or so.

But Surtain II wanted to see himself, not just his father.

"I've been thinking of that since I was a little kid, One day I'll be on that game," Surtain II says. "And, you know, it just flew by. Next thing you know, it's here."

 

Gifted with tremendous talent and a remarkable mentor, Surtain II's path is of course indelibly tied to his father. But to reach his goals, Surtain II would have to carve a path that was all his own.

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While his father helped to introduce football into his life, Surtain II was drawn to the game from the very beginning.

"I went to the majority of [my dad's] games," Surtain II says. "It was a great experience being out there, watching him play, getting the full experience of the NFL. And that helped me choose football at the end of the day, 'cause I felt like I had a sort of love for it at an early age."

 

Growing up watching his father suit up for the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs was a big part of why Surtain II fell in love with football himself. It wasn't just the bright lights or the incredible stage of playing in the NFL, but the excitement of the game itself.

 

"I think I found [football] in my own way," Surtain II says. "Just being around the game, it made me want to play more and more — the playing style, the playing speed, the competition around it."

 

Surtain II's love of football grew as he came to understand the game more and more with the help of his father, who had an illustrious 11-year career in the NFL.

 

"He had an established career, a great career, actually — three-time Pro Bowler, was a part of one of the great Miami defensive squads back in the day," Surtain II says. "Just watching him play, his confidence, his swagger, I feel like he brought that down upon me — just teaching me the different levels of the cornerback position."

 

Surtain II's father has naturally been a source of guidance through his entire football career, including coaching him from youth football to high school, where Surtain has led a remarkable second career in football as a three-time state-champion head coach.

 

"He wasn't giving me the soft hand, he wasn't giving me the benefit of the doubt," Surtain II says. "I was basically like another player to him. Even though he's my dad, I got some hard lessons from him. He used to get on me sometimes, but at the end of the day, he always wanted me to be the best player I could be, the best person I could be. It was a little bit of tough love, but at the end of the day, when football is over, we family. But on that field, he just wants me to be the best."While his father helped to introduce football into his life, Surtain II was drawn to the game from the very beginning.

"I went to the majority of [my dad's] games," Surtain II says. "It was a great experience being out there, watching him play, getting the full experience of the NFL. And that helped me choose football at the end of the day, 'cause I felt like I had a sort of love for it at an early age."

 

Growing up watching his father suit up for the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs was a big part of why Surtain II fell in love with football himself. It wasn't just the bright lights or the incredible stage of playing in the NFL, but the excitement of the game itself.

 

"I think I found [football] in my own way," Surtain II says. "Just being around the game, it made me want to play more and more — the playing style, the playing speed, the competition around it."

 

Surtain II's love of football grew as he came to understand the game more and more with the help of his father, who had an illustrious 11-year career in the NFL.

"He had an established career, a great career, actually — three-time Pro Bowler, was a part of one of the great Miami defensive squads back in the day," Surtain II says. "Just watching him play, his confidence, his swagger, I feel like he brought that down upon me — just teaching me the different levels of the cornerback position."

 

Surtain II's father has naturally been a source of guidance through his entire football career, including coaching him from youth football to high school, where Surtain has led a remarkable second career in football as a three-time state-champion head coach.

 

"He wasn't giving me the soft hand, he wasn't giving me the benefit of the doubt," Surtain II says. "I was basically like another player to him. Even though he's my dad, I got some hard lessons from him. He used to get on me sometimes, but at the end of the day, he always wanted me to be the best player I could be, the best person I could be. It was a little bit of tough love, but at the end of the day, when football is over, we family. But on that field, he just wants me to be the best."

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Through nature or nurture, the competitive streak that Surtain passed down to his son is part of what has propelled Surtain II to success in the NFL.

 

His winning mindset was instilled at a young age, watching his father play in the league, and continued through high school and college at the University of Alabama, where Surtain II was part of a national championship in his final season with the Crimson Tide.

 

"The championship [at Bama] was a bit surreal because we lost my first two years," Surtain II says. "My freshman year we lost to Clemson, got blown out, and my second year we didn't even make the playoffs. Then that third year, it was like OK, maybe it's time to turn it up a notch. This may be my last year, so it's about that time to go get me one, go get us one."

 

That drive to succeed remains with Surtain II both on and off the field.

 

"You gotta have a winning mentality," Surtain II says. "No matter what — if it's in football or life in general, you gotta have that winning mentality."

 

And that mentality, the constant strive for improvement is something Surtain II comes by honestly. He and his father review every game together, looking for areas where he can improve or tighten up his game.

 

"I speak with him after every game and tell him what he did good, but I also give him the real and tell him what he did wrong, what he needs to improve on," Surtain says. "He's always been a coachable kid, and he takes it and runs with it."

 

Surtain has attended most of his son's NFL games this season, including Surtain II's first career start vs. Jacksonville, which featured his first career interception.

 

On that play, as Jaguars quarterback and first-overall pick Trevor Lawrence hoped to connect on a deep pass down the left sideline with Surtain II in coverage, the elder Surtain already knew what was about to happen.

 

"I saw it from the stands," Surtain says. "I was like, 'If they throw this one, he's gonna get it.' He has tremendous ball skills and always seems to get his hands on the ball, and I knew once they threw it that he would get it. Kind of like a father's intuition."

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Surtain isn't the only person who has been impressed by his son as he makes his transition to the NFL. The leaders in Denver's secondary have often commended Surtain II on his maturity and professionalism during his rookie season — praise that means the world to Surtain, as both a coach and a father.

"I coached him since little league, so for those guys to say that it just goes to show you a lot about him and his makeup and him wanting to be the very best at what he does," Surtain says.

 

Surtain II is determined to keep building on his father's legacy. Surtain was a second-round draft selection in 1998 and this April, Surtain II was drafted by the Broncos at No. 9 overall. And his father couldn't be prouder.

 

"We knew pretty much after his sophomore year [at Bama] that he was going to pretty much eclipse me in the draft," Surtain says. "That's something you want as a father, you want your kids to eclipse everything that you did, and he definitely did that [in the draft]."

 

"Now he's just gotta live up to the career," Surtain says with a laugh.

 

Surtain II certainly has a career to live up to — his father has three Pro Bowl nods, a first-team All-Pro selection and 11 seasons in the league.

 

"The only s--- I'll be talking is who got the better career at the end of the day," Surtain II says. "It doesn't matter what round we went in, it just matters what you do when you get the opportunity to play."

 

In the meantime, Surtain is beyond proud to watch his son's childhood dreams come true as he suits up on Sundays.

 

"[It's] the best feeling in the world," Surtain says. "Just seeing him out there, just seeing where he's come from — the little kid who said, 'Dad, take me out there and teach me some stuff' — to him just growing into the player, and not only the player but the kind of person he is, as a dad it makes you proud."

 

Surtain made his own mark on the league over 11 seasons, and now he has the opportunity to watch his son continue to build on the Surtain legacy and create a new one for himself in the NFL.

 

"We have conversations all the time — he wants to be the very best," Surtain says. "He puts in the time, he puts in the work and God willing, if he's able to stay healthy, he'll have a chance to be really, really special in this league."

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Surtain II has paid homage to his father throughout his own football career.

When he first started playing, he wore No. 23, his father's number. But in high school, Surtain II switched to 2, for the suffix at the end of his name. From then on, his PS2 nickname was cemented.

 

"The 2, it started in high school," Surtain II says. "I wore 2 my junior year of high school and then the nickname started to come in, it started formulating. So I was like man, maybe I should stick with 2, because I feel like the 2 is a little original. Especially when the league came out with single-digit numbers [for defensive backs], I was like you know what, I'm gonna just be different, get a single-digit number, have a little bit of swag out there. But ever since then, 2 just became natural to me — I've just been rocking with it ever since."

 

With the PS2 moniker — a reference to his initials and a nod to the PlayStation 2 console — it's fitting that the rookie corner's favorite game is "Madden NFL."

 

And now that he's reached the NFL, it means that Surtain II finally has his own character in the game, just as he had envisioned as a child.

 

Surtain II would still like to see some adjustments to his character in the future. The 79 overall rating he currently has could be higher, but that's not stopping him from playing as himself — and he has the same competitive streak in "Madden" that he has in real life.

 

"I played as myself a couple times — of course, I'm not gonna let myself get beat now," Surtain II says with a laugh. "I be making all the plays, best believe."

 

As he continues to gain experience and hone his skills on the field in real life, Surtain II should continue to establish himself as one of the premier young cornerbacks, and that Madden rating will rise, too.

 

He has much to do to surpass his father's 96 overall rating in "Madden NFL 2004," but with the mindset and talent the two molded together, Surtain II will become the player both he and his father want him to be.