Brad Popkin
Friday September 12th, 2014

Don Beebe became a recognized figure in the NFL for his prowess in speed. Beebe uses the knowledge of fitness, running technique and a winning attitude to teach NFL hopefuls and other youth athletes at his House of Speed.

The House of Speed is a multi-sport training facility on the grounds of Aurora Christian High School in Illinois where Beebe was the head football coach for nine seasons. At House of Speed, Beebe, along with a staff that can range from 5 to 20 trainers depending on the season, trains youth athletes from elementary school to college. He specializes in all sports and applies workouts like sled pulls, calf raises, in addition to agility and mobility drills, to his athletes.

“We want to change the character of people. I see too many people that feel elitist or feel like they have something coming to them,” says Beebe. “That’s not how it works, you earn it. You go out there and work hard.”

Beebs, as most people call him, is one of the fastest players in NFL history. His record 40-yard dash time of 4.25 seconds at the NFL Combine, which he shared with Deion Sanders, stood until 2008 when Chris Johnson broke it with a time of 4.23. Speed was a gift given to Beebe, and a gift that he carried all the way to the NFL.

Buffalo Bills' Don Beebe (82) famously making the strip on Cowboys' Leon Lett (78) in Super Bowl XXVII.
John Biever/SI

The eight-year wide receiver played in six Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers. The Illinois-native captured one ring and left a legacy behind that continues to marvel football fans today. His high character and never give up attitude, portrayed in the infamous chase down and strip of Leon Lett in the Super Bowl, is employed at his House of Speed, which Beebe created in 1998.

“Back then nobody thought you could train an athlete to become faster,” says Beebe. “There are so many kids that give up on themselves way before they could find out what they could truly do and that was frustrating for me.

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At House of Speed, Beebe, along with a staff that can range from 5 to 20 trainers depending on the season, trains youth athletes from elementary school to college. He specializes in all sports and applies workouts like sled pulls, calf raises, in addition to agility and mobility drills, to his athletes.

Beebe has worked with sensational NFL players like Tony Romo, Michael Turner and Robert Quinn. Beebe’s training with Quinn had an enormous impact on his draft stock. The Rams defensive end came to Beebe’s facility at Aurora Christian after sitting at a 4.81 40-yard-dash time.

“Robert Quinn is probably the best athlete I’ve ever trained. I was working with Robert, Monday through Saturday [then] he ran a 4.71 at Indy,” says Beebe.

Quinn decided to stay and train with Beebe for another month to prepare for his North Carolina pro day, where he ran a 4.59 in the dash.

First, Beebe, as with any athlete focusing on speed, creates a video analysis on the athlete. He had Quinn run full-speed and then sat down with him to look at the video tape. The basis of establishing good running form lies in the amount of time spent on the ground.

"The first thing we want to work on is his knee drive and then the paw back. When that foot hits the ground, he needs to hit it right underneath his hip joint so it doesn't spend as much time on the ground," says Beebe.

The paw back is drill that stretches out the hamstring and focuses on landing on your toes or forefoot; directly underneath the hip.

When working with an athlete individually, like Quinn, Beebe varies workouts about every month to decrease risk of injury. Training goes six days with one day of rest and normally four extensive days.

Professional athletes are not the only players that Beebe caters too. Beebe says he has received an overwhelming amount of letters from parents and kids.

“It’s not even so much that you made my kid faster and jump higher. As long as they’re willing to work hard, boy or girl, they will get results,” says Beebe. “It’s the changing of the character and the attitude.”

Proper running form is crucial when training the youngsters. Beebe will watch video tape of Barry Sanders, Gale Sayers and Allen Iverson with kids because he doesn't want them learning bad habits early.

When it comes to younger athletes, Beebe instructs them to stand on the balls of their feet, something he taught his four children. 

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"I taught them how to jump rope very early. They would do it bare foot on concrete because they last thing you're going to do is hit your heels," says Beebe. "I did a lot of jump roping when I trained."

The footwork ladder is another component of drills at the HOS. It's versatility is paramount because it can be used for virtually any sport, one in particular is basketball.

Beebe himself was a basketball junkie. Back in grade school, he practiced Pete Maravich drills in his parents' basement, something he credits to the success he had catching passes.

"We like to incorporate the ball. It's unique and very hard to do. We want them to do the footwork first and then incorporate the ball," says Beebe. "I remember my son [Chad], he looked like Pete Maravich. It really helped him develop his foot speed and ability to change direction, as well as hand-eye coordination."

It’s not just skill that makes the player on the field but what goes on in the players’ head. The environment at the HOS is nurturing. Beebe recalls moments as coach at Aurora Christian where student athletes crumbled under pressure by parents.

“My son Chad plays football at Northern Illinois, he’s going to be a Sophomore,” says Beebe. “I told him that ‘this is your dream, your life’ and just because I played doesn’t mean you have too. I see so much of the other as a high school coach, it’s sad.”

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Don Beebe steps into the end zone with the Chicago Bears in his wake after a 90-yard kickoff return for a third quarter touchdown at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Brian Bahr/AFP/Getty Images

When a young athlete comes to the HOS, Beebe and staff put them through tests showcasing foot speed or explosiveness, and more, to see where they're athletically. He will send them through 40-yard dashes, squats, and onto the footwork ladder.

Then, as time goes on, Beebe will show them the gains they've made which important in molding a young athlete, not verbally abusing them. When it comes to youth athletes, Beebe instructs them to stand on the balls of their feet, something he taught his four children.

"I taught them how to jump rope very early. They would do it bare foot on concrete because they last thing you're going to do is hit your heels," says Beebe. "I did a lot of jump roping when I trained."

Popular machines at Beebe's HOS are the bear machine, the real runner and the power pull. The bear machine helps athletes achieve explosion vertically. This machine typically sees athletes from volleyball and basketball.

The real runner is meant for the track athlete or someone like Quinn who is focused on increasing their linear speed. It focuses on the glutes, hamstrings and hip flexors. The power pull is similar to the real runner and also sled pulls.

Beebe miraculously made it into the NFL and was part of one of the most memorable moments in Super Bowl history. Now he spends his time making the road to becoming a professional athlete easier for others.

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