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How the Ismails Are Trying to Become Another Ravens Father-Son Duo

WR Qadir Ismail
WR Qadir Ismail

Qadry Ismail was a confident rookie back in 1993. He was a second-round pick who knew that if he studied hard and took care of his business, it would work out for him in the NFL.

After 10 seasons in the league, including three in Baltimore in which he helped the Ravens win their first Super Bowl and posted two 1,000-yard campaigns, Ismail is comfortable with his place amongst Ravens Legends cemented.

Watching his son, Qadir Ismail, practice as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Ravens, however, now that comes with a healthy amount of anxiety.

"When it's your son you're like, 'Oh my God!' There are all these thoughts going through your mind," Qadry said. "As a parent, you know there are going to be challenges, but you just want the best for them."

Qadir is vying for a spot on the Ravens' roster this summer with his dad, a member of the team's media corps, watching intently. If there was ever a Father's Day weekend to treasure in the Ismail house, this is it. The Ismails are trying to become a second Ravens father-son duo on the 53-man roster.

At 6-foot-6, Qadir is hard to miss on the field even if you're not his dad. Originally invited for a tryout at rookie minicamp, he was signed to the 90-man roster at the start of Organized Team Activities.

As Head Coach John Harbaugh was walking to his meeting with reporters following a recent OTA practice, he stopped to chat with Qadry briefly and said something to the effect of, "it's different when it's your son, huh?" Qadry burst into laughter.

Qadry knows full well what his son has done to get to this point. A converted quarterback who transferred from Villanova, he totaled 16 catches for 156 yards over two seasons as a wide receiver at Samford University. Stats were not going to get him an opportunity.

So as Qadir was on the drive back home from Alabama in late November, after his graduate season had ended, he called his father to formulate a plan to get to the NFL.

There was about 16 weeks before his pro day – about the equivalent of an NFL season. Qadry, who earned the name "Missile" because of his blazing speed, would put him on his Missile Training program – with no breaks.

"I set forward the game plan that I would do with any of my clients – except this one mattered more because he's my son," Qadry said. "He aced it. He showed up every day and didn't flinch when it came to working."

Check out who stood out on the practice field during the Ravens' mandatory minicamp.

Qadir aced his pro day at Samford. He did so again at another Pro Day at Towson, this time in front of Ravens player personnel assistant and former wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. That got Qadir an invite to the Ravens' local pro day, where he performed well again.

Qadry had put a bug in the ear of former Ravens director of college scouting David Blackburn, who is now the Washington Commanders' director of player personnel. After seeing what Qadir did at the local pro day, Blackburn told Ismail that he thought Qadir would be a fit as a player and culturally in Baltimore.

During the draft, Qadry was watching when General Manager Eric DeCosta said that Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney had texted him to put in a last-minute recommendation for first-round pick Nate Wiggins. That inspired Qadry to poke Blackburn again about his son.

Soon after, the Ravens offered Qadir a rookie camp tryout. Three other teams were interested in Qadir as a rookie free agent, but Baltimore was the choice.

"I know what the Ravens are about. I know they're straight shooters," Qadry said. "I know the process. I didn't want him to be some nameless, faceless dude. I want him to have a legit opportunity."

Qadry cried when he first saw photos of his son wearing a Ravens uniform. But he said the warm fuzzies from the nostalgia has worn off by this point. Now it's all business.

Qadir is the second Raven to be the son of a player on the Ravens' 2000 Super Bowl team, joining running back Keaton Mitchell, son of former safety Anthony Mitchell. Keaton made the team as an undrafted rookie free agent last year and emerged as a game-changing offensive weapon before suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Considering his lack of experience at wide receiver, Qadir has his work cut out for him to make the Ravens' roster. But his father has always seen a fast learner.

"There were little details he had to learn at receiver. You tell him once and all of sudden he's changed," Qadry said. "I just knew it wasn't going to be that big of an adjustment."

Qadir has been cross training with the wide receivers and tight ends recently, expanding his versatility. He caught a touchdown this week during minicamp.

"Everything nowadays, you put them in groups, you call them tight ends and wide receivers, but a lot of times, they do the same jobs. He'll probably be kind of an inside receiver type of a guy; not to say that he couldn't go outside and go get fades and things like that, he's so big," Harbaugh said.

"I would say he's really looked good. He's had a nice camp. Obviously, he's got a family pedigree – it's incredible – but he's doing it all on his own."

Qadry has been by his son's side. He coached him since seventh grade with the Bel Air Terps. Qadry nudged Qadir that he should consider switching positions in college. Now he's put in a few phone calls to help him get a crack in the NFL.

"He's been there every step of the way, just really trying to impart on me any wisdom whether it be football or the life lessons that you get out of football," Qadir said. "Those can be tough lessons, but there's been a lot of hugs and a lot of love as well."

Qadir surpassed his two siblings in height when he was a sophomore in high school. When he was fast enough to beat his father in a race, however, Qadir's challenge was never accepted.

"He did it smart. Once he knew I could pass him up he was like, 'Eh, well, I don't know about this race thing,'" Qadir said with a laugh. "Don't let him fool you, he definitely still has some speed, but I think I could get him."

Aside from the race, Qadir has passed all the tests along the way. He's put in the work. That's all you can do as a father. You can help pave the way, but they've got to do it themselves.

After Ravens practices and classroom work, Qadry and Qadir sometimes discuss the playbook, route nuances, and such. But the vast majority of the coaching is done by the Ravens' coaches, not dad. He's nearby, ready whenever and unflinching in support as his youngest of three children chases his next goal.

"I'm betting on Qadir in my full-blown belief because of what I've seen him do," Qadry said. "I'm more than proud of him."

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