As his three sons grew up, Brett Perriman preached that football doesn't define them.
Yes, their dad was a wide receiver in the NFL for 10 years. Yes, he put up 6,589 yards and 30 touchdowns. But they didn't have to follow in* *his footsteps.
"I made it clear that they didn't have to do what I did to be successful," Perriman said.
Thankfully, Breshad Perriman did anyway.
On Thursday night, Breshad was drafted in the first round, pick No. 26 overall, by the Baltimore Ravens. In the next round, the Ravens selected another former NFL player's son, tight end Maxx Williams. His dad, Brian Williams, was a 12-year center for the New York Giants.
Two picks, back-to-back NFL players' sons. What are the chances?
Breshad was Brett's only son to pick up football, starting when he was 8 years old. Before Breshad was about to enter his junior year of high school, Brett sat him down for a talk about his football future.
Brett rose above a childhood in Miami housing projects to become a star at the University of Miami and eventual second-round draft pick of the New Orleans Saints. He was a 5-foot-9, 180 pound burner who morphed into a precision route-runner to get the ball. He played for four different teams, and said he had 17 different quarterbacks and eight offensive coordinators.
Brett knew how hard it was to get to the NFL, let alone last in it.
He told his son to get serious about football or "we're going to leave it alone." He gave Breshad two weeks to think about it.
"He came back in about 30 minutes and said, 'Dad, I love football and I want to do it,'" Brett recalls. "I said, 'OK, let's go get it then.' I had to see him want it."
Breshad is now following his dad into the NFL, trying to better his very solid career. While both are professional football players, they aren't entirely alike, however.
At 6-foot-2, 212 pounds Breshad has a five-inch and 32-pound* *size advantage on his father. While Brett describes himself as a comedian, Breshad is an introvert. Brett doesn't have time for emotions. Breshad is a momma's boy, his father said.
But they share one very important trait, besides some of the same highly athletic DNA.
"He's got the same determination and drive I have," Brett said.
Brett remembers a time when Breshad got injured during high school football. He kept pressing on. He remembers a time when he took a big hit to the head in college. Breshad pleaded to be allowed back in the game.
"Everybody can say they want this game and want to play football," Brett said. "The test of a man – your will, your strength and your courage – is tested when you get shellacked.
"If you don't have the passion, don't talk to me about it. Your actions are going to show me if you're really committed to this thing. His actions showed all that. He put the extra work in and did all the little things it took. Once he committed, I had to commit."
Once Brett knew Breshad was all-in, he started teaching him the finer points of being a receiver. He taught him how to run routes versus man coverage and zone coverage, how to play inside and outside technique, how to handle double coverages.
"Every little thing, I can teach him," Brett said. "Some people have it out of instincts and some people have to learn some things. What he didn't have, he was going to develop it."
Brett's playing days ended when Breshad was just 4 years old, giving the father plenty of time to mentor his son. Some of Brett's friends and former college teammates at Miami helped too. The group includes Hall of Fame Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Irvin, 11-year Seattle Seahawks receiver Brian Blades and 10-year safety Bennie Blades.
"I feel like I've been raised around football," Breshad said. "My dad calls [Irvin], he makes him give me some pointers from time to time. Mike tells me really small things to work on [like] stacking defenders. Just little things that maybe some other receivers may overlook."
Breshad first felt like he might have an NFL future sometime during his freshman season at Central Florida. Brett saw it by his sophomore year.
As a junior, without quarterback Blake Bortles (a top draft pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars last year), Breshad had a breakout campaign with 50 catches for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns. He was ready, and declared for the NFL Draft early.
Of course, he invited his father to Chicago's Roosevelt University for the first round.
"I kind of wanted to follow in his footsteps," Breshad said. "Once I created a great passion for the game, I wanted to make a name for myself. I'm slowly doing that, and I feel like there's no one else better to celebrate that with and go through this experience with in my family."
Brett was in attendance when Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome called Breshad to tell him he was going to be a Raven. He heard NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announce his son's name, saw him walk on stage and hold up his new jersey.
But remember, Brett doesn't get emotional. He said it was a proud moment, but after having a 10-year NFL career, Brett views this as just the start.
"It didn't hit me too much because I understand there are different phases to this game," Brett said.
What was Brett's first words after congratulations?
"Time to go to work. That's basically all he said," Breshad recalled, leading to the greatest lesson his dad taught him about being an NFL player.
"[He taught me that] hard work beats everything. You can't really rely on talent all the time, because everybody at this level is talented, so you have to beat your competitors with hard work."
Breshad pairs that work ethic with gifted physical traits. Even with his 6-foot-2 size, which he got from his granddaddy on his mother's side, he still ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.22 seconds.
Those traits are what may allow Breshad to have a better career than his father. He's already off to a good start as a first-round pick while his dad was a second-rounder.
"He's driven to have more than I did. I think he wants to beat everything I did," Brett said.
Does he think he will?
"I hope so," Brett said with a chuckle. "I think he will. I think he will. I know that because I'm going to be the one pushing him."
Newsome said being the son of an NFL player is an advantage because "the game isn't going to be too big." It will help Breshad make an impact quicker than the typical rookie.
That didn't factor into Newsome's second-round selection of Williams, however. Newsome didn't even know Williams was also the son of a former NFL player when he picked him.
It goes beyond an athletic father for Williams.
His grandfather played quarterback at Notre Dame and was drafted by the Chicago Bears. His father played football at the University of Minnesota. His mother played volleyball at Minnesota. Williams said his mother is the best athlete in the family.
"Mom was the one that taught me how to kick and catch the ball and throw back when I was real young, because dad was always gone at practice then," Williams said.
Williams also grew up around the game. He recalls his father keeping a bathing suit in his locker so Williams could hang out in the hot tub while dad hit the cold tub. He followed the family tradition and also went to Minnesota.
Much like Breshad's teachings, Williams adopted a strong work ethic from his athletic parents. He was taught that he had to work for everything, and that if he did his best, good things would happen.
His father's reaction to Williams being drafted didn't differ too much from Brett Perriman's either.
"He said, 'You know what, you have to earn respect,'" Williams said. "'You have to go in, shut your mouth and go to work every day and earn the respect of your teammates and show who you are, because now you're at the highest level where no matter what, everyone's the best there is."
Check out photos from Breshad Perriman's collegiate career at the University of Central Florida.