The irony of his son’s current situation is not lost on Doug Beisel, principal at nearby Oskaloosa Junior/Senior High.
When linebacker Monty Beisel left the perennially powerful New England Patriots after the 2005 season to sign with the then-lowly Arizona Cardinals, visions of future postseason exploits weren’t exactly numerous.
Of course, that was before the Cardinals, with only two winning seasons since 1988, unleashed the unlikeliest of playoff runs this winter to earn a trip to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII Sunday in Tampa, Fla.
“Who would have ever thought?” asked Doug. “He left New England to go to a team that just traditionally struggled. ... You never know, I guess. It’s kind of like the (Kansas University football team) winning the Orange Bowl.”
After a standout career at nearby Kansas State, Beisel was selected in the fourth round of the 2001 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs, spending four seasons with the organization before departing for New England.
This season, he has played in 16 games for the Cardinals, mostly on special teams, and played an especially large role in an Oct. 12 victory over the Dallas Cowboys, returning a blocked punt for a game-winning touchdown in overtime.
In the process, he also has provided his family with a very enviable experience. In addition to Doug, mother Sandy, who works in the trust funds department of U.S. Bank in Lawrence, and brothers Chad, 24, and Drew, 18, planned to board a plane out of Kansas City today en route to Tampa for their first in-living-color Super Bowl.
“It’s a very surreal experience,” Doug said of the prospect of watching his son play on professional football’s biggest stage. “It’s really hard to put into words.”
Sunday’s game will mark Beisel’s first Super Bowl — he’ll join former Kansas University offensive lineman Justin Hartwig, now a starting center on the Steelers, as Super Bowl participants with local ties — and in the days leading up to the game, Doug said, his son has been attempting to block out the numerous distractions leading up to the game.
Since the teams arrived in Tampa earlier this week, the Beisels have had limited contact with Monty, and they aren’t figuring it will get much better as the game draws nearer.
As Doug said Friday, “We’re looking forward to sitting down and talking to him after the game to talk about the experience.”
Asked if he’d managed to deliver any last-minute advice to his son on the eve of Sunday’s game, Doug said, “The only advice I gave him was to enjoy the moment and take the time to soak it in. He’s far grown, and he’s exceeded what I can teach him. I defer to the experts.”