Annie's Scary Dad

Oct. 31, 2005
Oct. 31, 2005

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Oct. 31, 2005

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Annie's Scary Dad

By Gus Frerotte, Dolphins QB, with SI's Michael Silver

WHEN I went out for football at Ford City High in western Pennsylvania in the late '80s, I was awed by Harry Beckwith, our tough, old school coach who wore nut-hugger shorts. Harry taught me about poise, toughness and respect, and instilled the most important rule of all: "Stay the hell away from my daughter." Annie went to our rival high school. She was very pretty and seemed like a lot of fun to be around, and I was scared to talk to her--for obvious reasons.

This is an article from the Oct. 31, 2005 issue Original Layout

Harry (inset) worked his butt off, but he wasn't an uptight coach who didn't know how to unwind. We'd hear about him and his assistants going to a game a few hours away to scout, and on the way home they'd stop at every bar and roll in at 4 a.m. I learned a lot about playing quarterback from Harry--I learned toughness is the most important thing. I broke my neck as a freshman and sat out sophomore year. I wasn't going to play again, but Harry persuaded me to come back. As a junior I ripped my quad, and Harry's attitude was, "Tape it up and go back in." I did, and before I knew it I had a scholarship to Tulsa.

I must have proved something to Harry, because the summer after my sophomore season at Tulsa I got invited to his 50th birthday party, at a fishing camp. He made a point of asking if I wanted to go with him the day before, "to help set up." When he came to pick me up, who was in the backseat but Annie. She was a nursing student at Pitt and had been crying because her boyfriend had just broken up with her. She was wearing this cute pink shirt I'll never forget, and I got the feeling it would finally be O.K. to talk to her. That invitation turned out to be Harry's greatest gift. I cheered up Annie (left, atop Gus), we started dating, fell in love and married. We have three kids, Abby, Gunnar and Gabe, who don't think Grandpa Harry is so tough--even when he's correcting their football stances in the backyard.