When he was thinking about quitting football and coming home for good, Cole Beasley knew whom he wanted to call.
"He called me. I don’t think he wanted to talk to his dad," Danette Beasley said with a smile and a shake of her head. "He wanted me to talk to him first."
Cole’s instinct was right.
His dad, a former high school football coach, wasn’t exactly warm to the idea of his son, signed by the Dallas Cowboys after going undrafted out of SMU, suddenly wanting to drop it all.
"I was kind of [upset]," Mike Beasley said.
But he put that aside. He and his wife drove to Dallas to meet their youngest child. They had an idea of what was going on. They knew they could talk it out, and after a day, Cole was on another flight back to California to rejoin the Cowboys.
Which now looks like the best decision for everyone.
Beasley had his best two practices of training camp when he got back. One afternoon, he caught three passes in a two-minute drill, including a touchdown. He drew a flag in the end zone to set up his short scoring catch.
The momentum from practice didn’t carry over to the preseason opener in Oakland. He got only one pass his way, and it was too long for him. But the Cowboys continue to show signs that they like what they see in the 5-foot-8, 177-pound rookie. They used him in the slot with the first offense this week, and he’s still the first punt returner.
Now, just two weeks after he was ready to leave it all behind, Beasley appears to have an inside track in the nine-man competition for one of the two or three roster spots behind veterans Miles Austin, Dez Bryant and Kevin Ogletree.
"I think he’s doing pretty danged good," his father said Wednesday at training camp. "They’re finding out he can do some things some of the bigger guys can’t do. He can be a good safety valve, a drop-off, and be valuable there. He can get some yards after catch."
The Beasley’s have been in California with their son since last weekend. They went to the game against Oakland and will go to the San Diego game on Saturday before heading back to Texas on Sunday.
Then they’ll be much closer to Cole, who two weeks ago seemed simply overwhelmed by the idea of professional football and the high profile that comes with it.
"I think he got a little taste of the media, the attention, what it’s like," Beasley’s father said. "He just wasn’t sure."
In July, Beasley, asked by Dallas radio station KRLD/105.3 FM if he gets tired of comparisons to Wes Welker, said, "I get tired of it a little bit because I feel like I have a little bit more speed than Wes Welker does. He’s got a little bigger frame than me, but I feel like I’ve got a little more versatility to my game than he does."
Coming in the dead time between minicamps and training camp, the comments got attention not only in Dallas but also nationally. Writers and fans sniped at Beasley on Twitter and in blog posts for not being flattered by comparisons to the Patriots receiver.
Beasley had already spent the spring answering questions about playing like Welker. He had performed well in the rookie minicamp and organized team activities at Valley Ranch. He was being scrutinized. And now camp was in full swing.
So two weeks ago today, following the first off day of camp, Beasley went to head coach Jason Garrett and said he didn’t want to play anymore. Garrett said Beasley told him his heart wasn’t in it. The Cowboys agreed to let Beasley go home and think about it for a couple of days.
He got to his brother’s home in Dallas at 5 a.m. the next morning, Saturday, Aug. 4. His parents had been there since 1 a.m.
"It was too late to talk that night. He went straight to sleep," his mother said.
When he woke up, Cole, his parents and his brother Shayne spent the day talking.
"It was all getting to be a little much for him," Mike Beasley said. "He’s always been a little nervous when it’s something new. He used to throw up in high school before games. He even did it at SMU."
By the afternoon, Cole was thinking about football again. He knew he was an underdog in Cowboys camp, but he had always been an underdog. Something was re-lit in him that made him want to be competitive again.
"By that evening, you could see him back to himself," Danette Beasley said. "He said he was going to go back. He had already decided to go back."
Beasley got on a 6 a.m. flight out of DFW — he was up to leave for the airport at 4:30, less than 24 hours after he had reached his brother’s place — and made it back to Oxnard in time for that Sunday’s morning walk-through.
The Cowboys welcomed him back.
"Sometimes when you’re a rookie in the NFL — when you’re a rookie free agent in the NFL — the world seems really big to you, and these days seem monumental and hard and challenging, and maybe they take a little of the spirit out of you," Garrett said that day. "And what he needed was to step back for a little bit, take a breath, regain some perspective…. When I spoke with him, it was like the guy that we signed back after the draft, and so we’re excited to have him back."
On the field, the Beasley’s now see the Cole they have always known.
"Undersized, overachiever-type," Mike Beasley said. "We’ve always heard that."
And the Cowboys? No one knows yet. But at least Cole has given himself another chance.
Editors comment: The Dallas Cowboys have had several undersized, overachiever-types throughout their storied history. One name immediately comes to mind … Bill Bates. If Cole Beasley can harness his unique talent with Bill Bates Texas-sized heart and determination, he’ll have a tremendous career as a Dallas Cowboy.