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Michael Pittman Jr and his Dad.


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Indianapolis Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr. followed in the footsteps of his father, RB Michael Pittman, who had an 11-year NFL career.

Indianapolis Colts receiver Michael Pittman Jr. was immersed in football growing up. That's because his father spent 11 of his son's first 12 years playing in the NFL, primarily with the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"I always thought it was what I was going to do because to me football was normal," Pittman Jr. said. "I didn't think my dad was special because he played in the NFL. It was just there since I was born. I didn't really appreciate it until I got around 14 or 15, and then it sunk in that my dad really played in the league for 11 years."

Pittman Jr. even thought he was going to follow in his father's footsteps by wearing his No. 32 and playing running back. This was all junior's thinking. His father supported him, rather than pushing his son throughout his Pop Warner days.

 

"I was that dad who didn't force anything on my kids when it came to sports," Pittman said. "I always forced being a good person and getting good grades. When it came down to it, football is what Michael Jr. really wanted to do. I wasn't really hard on him, especially at a really young age. I was more about teaching him. He was the type of son who always listened, never thought he knew everything."

Pittman didn't really step in until it was time to tell his son he didn't have a future as an NFL running back. Pittman Jr.'s best chance for success would be at receiver, his father told him.

"Junior was stuck on playing running back because that's what I played," Pittman said. "He was very good at running back, but seeing your child and where the game was going, he was going to be tall, so that's why I told him he was going to be a receiver."

Pittman transferred his son in California from Valencia High School to Oaks Christian High School after his freshman season because his friend and former NFL receiver Mike Sherrard was on the school's offensive staff.

"I wanted him to be around guys who played professionally in the NFL," Pittman said. "I couldn't coach my son, so I wanted to make sure he got around those who had been there and done it, knew what it took to make it and what it took for my son to go where he wanted to do."

Father knew best because the younger Pittman sprouted to 6-foot-4 by the time he started his college career at USC.

While Pittman Jr. had the size to play receiver, he was learning how to play the position. That's where his father's relationships with others who played receiver in the NFL -- like Keyshawn Johnson, Curtis Conway, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and others -- came into play.

"I've always had access to elite players," Pittman Jr. said. "I had, and still have, instant contact with all those guys. They really gave me an understanding of football in a football life because in football there's always ups and downs. They taught me how to manage it." -- Mike Wells

 

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NFL's Michael Pittman and Michael Pittman Jr.

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