Zane Beadles Focused On Family After Successful Nine-Year NFL Career
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah offensive lineman Zane Beadles has had some time to reflect on his nine-year NFL career after announcing his retirement in June.
It all started when his world would change when his wife gave birth to twins two months ago, now Beadles wants to be a dad and not worry about the demanding schedule of an NFL player.
Having the ideal career, Beadles took advantage of every opportunity that came his way from college until his last snap with the Atlanta Falcons during the 2018 season.
The Hillcrest High School star had to work his way to the NFL, being only a two-star recruit. But, that wasn’t his ultimate goal when he got to school at the University of Utah.
Successful College Career
When Beadles arrived at Utah, the NFL wasn’t on his mind. He was more worried about his education and life after football. He definitely didn’t think his football path would reach the professional ranks when he was practicing on the offensive line during his freshman season.
“When I got to school, I remember my true freshman year practicing against guys like Steve Fifita and thinking to myself ‘I am never going to be able to play at this level because these guys are too big and too strong,'” Beadles told KSL Sports. “But then I started playing and started my redshirt freshman year. Then I played my sophomore year, but I was still focused on school. I did mechanical engineering as my undergrad. The way I saw things is having a scholarship and playing football was a great experience but was also giving me an opportunity to get a good education and set me up for a career.”
When he was a junior for the Utes, that was when the possibility of a future NFL career became more clear and he started turning his focus to that.
“During my junior year, I started to get some attention from NFL scouts and some agents started calling after my junior year,” Beadles stated. “That was really the first time where I thought it was an option for me to play in the NFL. The opportunity was there so I felt like I had to throw everything I had into this (football) and see how this goes.”
During his junior season, the Utes beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl in 2008 and bust the BCS for the second time in four years. His senior year would solidify a spot on a NFL roster after being named a first team All-American. Beadles was drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos.
“It definitely wasn’t something that I planned on,” he said. “When I was drafted, I set a goal to play in the NFL for 10 years. That has been my goal for my entire career. While I am one year short of that goal, I consciously made that decision and am completely at peace with it.”
When Beadles was in the NFL and even after his career is over, he still appreciates his time playing for Kyle Whittingham and the Utah football program.
“First of all, the program at the University of Utah is really a top-notch program to develop guys to be professionals,” Beadles said. “The way Coach Whittingham runs things and the type of effort that is required to play on a Utah football team I really thinks sets guys up well for the next level.”
He relied on his family and his experiences with Utah to help him make the transition from college to the NFL.
The Biggest Stage In Sports
When Beadles began his NFL career in Denver, the team struggled. They finished with a 4-12 record with Kyle Orton at quarterback. Denver fired their head coach Josh McDaniels before the season ended.
The 2011 season was much better for Beadles and the Broncos. The former Ute started on the offensive line with Tim Tebow at quarterback. Denver ended the regular season with an 8-8 record and a playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The following season, the Broncos signed Peyton Manning. Beadles worked closely with Manning as one of his starting offensive lineman. That season was a career-best for Beadles and he was awarded by being named to the Pro Bowl during the 2012 season.
In 2013, which was Beadles’ last with the Broncos, they had a 13-3 record and won the AFC Championship and played the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLVIII. He knew the magnitude of the game, but tried to treat it like every other game.
“It’s obviously a huge game and a huge experience,” Beadles added. “We had a great team that year of guys that just knew how to work and what it took to win. Honestly, we went into that game with a lot of confidence. There were a little bit of nerves but at the end of the day, we were going out there to play football.”
Now that his career is over, Beadles has thought about the fact that he played in a Super Bowl with Manning, who will almost certainly be a Hall of Famer.
“Looking back on it now, that was an unbelievable experience,” he said. “The two years I was in Denver with Peyton we had a ton of success. We went to a Super Bowl, but got our butts kicked by Seattle. I played on the number one offense in the history of the NFL.”
During the off-season following the 43-8 Super Bowl loss, the Broncos didn’t offer Beadles a new contract. He signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Left Everything On The Field
Beadles embraced the opportunity to play with the Jaguars and be a leader for the young offensive line. He spent two seasons with the Jaguars before moving back west to join the San Francisco 49ers.
He played two seasons in the bay area before being released. Beadles and the 49ers couldn’t meet in the middle when negotiating a pay cut, so they parted ways. When he was a free agent, he was almost certain that he was going to retire after the 2018 season. During that year, he signed with the Atlanta Falcons in October and played six games.
Beadles decided on February 18 that he was done playing football, announcing his decision on social media on June 10.
From playing in the Sugar Bowl in college to playing in the Super Bowl, to playing for nine seasons in the NFL, Beadles has had many experiences along the way, but his interactions with teammates will always stick with him.
“My favorite thing about my career is that it brings a group of people together from vastly different backgrounds,” he said. “Everyone is pulling in the same direction in trying to accomplish the same thing. It really opened my eyes to see other ways of thinking and other ways that guys were brought up and other perspectives. I feel like that really made me a much better man in general in life, being exposed to different people and to different experiences. That is my favorite part about my professional experience.”
Beadles feels like he had a fulfilling football career, but one thing stands out that he wish he would have experienced.
“I would have loved to win a Super Bowl,” Beadles said. “To have a taste to get there and lose is not fun. Not many people get to say that they have won a Super Bowl. I went to the Pro Bowl in 2012, but I made a goal to get back there. But I never quite had a season like I did that year and I used to beat myself up about it. I can hang my hat on that I maximized every opportunity that I had.”
The former Ute’s favorite moment in college is the obvious, but not many people can say that they beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to bust the BCS.
“The Sugar Bowl with Utah pops up as an unbelievable experience,” he mentioned. “The college experience is totally different from the NFL experience on a personal level and a team level. To have that championship experience with a group of guys that grow so close like they do in college is an amazing thing.”
When it came to his favorite moment in the NFL, Beadles had a hard time deciding because he had so many experiences that changed his life.
“Definitely playing in a Super Bowl was awesome. Winning an AFC Championship was awesome. Meeting my wife, had I not been playing football, I wouldn’t have met her.
When KSL Sports asked Beadles what was next now that he doesn’t have to worry about the demanding schedule that takes so much time for an NFL player, his answer was family first followed by the thing he was mainly focused on when he first stepped foot on campus at Utah.
“My plan is to be dad here for a little while and then I plan to go back to school and get an MBA starting this fall,” Beadles said. “I plan on doing an online MBA program so I can still be around and be with the kids. I definitely have interest in the business world moving forward. So, I am going to use the experience and the time of getting an MBA to figure out where I fit in the business world.”