Posted: 9:30 p.m.
Paul Coffman knows about living the dream. He was once such an anonymous football player that even after being invited to play in an all-star game as a high school senior in Kansas the public address announcer couldn't find his name and instead called him by that of Coffman's hometown – Chase.
Coffman went on to play 11 seasons in the NFL as a tight end, including a stretch of eight seasons in Green Bay in which he caught at least 42 passes six times and twice earned Pro Bowl honors. A walk-on in college at Kansas State who had to earn his way onto Green Bay's team as a rookie free agent in 1978, Coffman was eventually elected into the Packers Hall of Fame.
On Day 2 of this year's NFL Draft, Coffman got to watch his son – named Chase in honor of his tiny hometown in Central Kansas – start on the path of his own dream.
The Bengals selected Chase Coffman with their second of two third-round picks. The younger Coffman is, like his father, a tight end with a talent for catching the football.
In 50 games over four seasons at the University of Missouri, Chase Coffman caught 247 passes for 2,659 yards and 30 touchdowns. No tight end in NCAA Division I history has more receptions than Coffman, while his yardage and touchdown totals rank him second all-time. His 90 pass catches last season equaled the single-season record for tight ends.
"God blessed Chase with the talent, the size and the speed," said Papa Coffman. "Now it's all about: how much does he want it?
"When he was young he thought that since Dad played in the NFL that he would be able to just go do it and that's all there was to it. He has learned that it takes a lot of hard work to get to where you want to be. Since he was young he's dreamed of playing in the NFL and here we are today, the day that is becoming a reality."
The Coffmans watched the draft proceedings from their family home in Peculiar, Mo. Day 1 on Saturday passed without Chase's name being called. Anticipations rose when the third round began Sunday morning but it wasn't until the third-to-last pick in the round that the waiting ended.
"I'm excited and I can't wait to get up there," Chase told reporters via a conference call moments after getting the welcoming call from Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "They're going to get 100 percent of what I've got."
Coffman joins a tight end grouping that includes veteran incumbent starter Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht. Kelly's strength is in his blocking ability; Utecht brought with him last year as a free agent from Indianapolis the threat of a downfield receiver. At 6-feet-5, 244 pounds, Coffman believes he can become the best of both disciplines.
The Bengals expect their tight ends to be able to handle blocking assignments. Coffman wasn't asked to do much blocking at the line of scrimmage in Missouri's run-and-shoot offense, but that doesn't mean he can't do it.
"Once I have the chance to practice it a little bit more, I think things will come along," said Chase. "I'm just going to work as hard as I can to be the best all-around tight end I can be. I think that's one thing I really need to work on. You want to get better in every aspect of your game, and I'm going to do everything I can to help our team win."
Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes was a teammate of Paul Coffman's for two seasons (1986-87) in Kansas City. The two built a friendship that remains strong.
"Johnny will teach him how to block," said Paul Coffman. "Blocking is all about attitude and Chase has the attitude to succeed."
"I have known this kid since he was a baby," said Hayes, who had a 12-year career with the Chiefs and Pittsburgh. "I know his work ethic. This kid will work hard to be able to play and have all the nuances of the game. The only limitations that he has are the ones outside of himself that people put on him. This kid is a great competitor; he has shown that. I think it will take some time but not a lot of time."
This will be Chase Coffman's second time playing with a quarterback named Carson. Before he's even caught a pass from Carson Palmer, before his days at Missouri, Coffman teamed with younger brother Carson to lead Raymore-Peculiar High School to the 2004 Kansas Class V state championship.
Carson Coffman is will be a redshirt sophomore at Kansas State next season and is vying to take over as the starter after Josh Freeman left and was drafted 17th overall in the first round by Tampa Bay. Coffman also has a younger sister, Camille, who will be a freshman volleyball player at the University of Wyoming in the fall. Cameron Coffman, youngest of the four siblings, was the starting quarterback at Ray-Pec High School as a sophomore last season.
That's a lot of talent to come from Paul Coffman's family. Coffman ended his career with 339 receptions for 4,340 yards and 42 touchdowns. Every so often dad breaks out the old game films to show his sons how he got things done on the field.
"I think we're very similar," said Chase Coffman. "I'm a little bit bigger than him and a little bit heavier but as far as everything else goes we're both very hard workers and we're going to get the job done. He had great hands and was one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the NFL when he played and I hope to do the same thing.
As tempting as it might have been, the younger Coffman wasn't going to get caught up in any further comparisons, such as if he thinks he has better hands than his father.
"Oh, I guess we'll find out after my career is over," said Chase. "He had a pretty good career so hopefully I'll be able to have a better one."