Cole Beasley was lucky this Thanksgiving: not only was he home for the holidays, his teammates basically let him crowd surf to Thanksgiving dinner.
The Thanksgiving Day trip to Arlington was a big one for the Buffalo Bills — their first Thanksgiving game since 1994 — but it was huge for Beasley. The Little Elm native grew up north of Dallas, played college ball at SMU and later played seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys. Playing on Thanksgiving is the norm for Beasley, but this time he came home wearing a different shade of blue.
AT&T Stadium workers greeted him warmly when he walked into the building. He swapped jerseys with Dak Prescott and embraced now-former teammates and coaches after a six catch, 110-yard and a score performance, his best as a Bill. It was a statement game for Beasley and the Bills, now 9-3 and in the drivers seat for at least a Wild Card spot in the AFC playoff picture. Maybe more, if the Bills are finally for real after two decades of struggles.
Beasley spoke to Uproxx Sports by phone on a belated Victory Monday fresh off news that the Bills would get a true primetime game in Week 15 when they host the Steelers on Sunday Night Football. He talked about his return to Texas for a big win, what he’s learned about Buffalo in his first season there and the work he’s done with quarterback Josh Allen to build something exciting in Orchard Park.
"I'm still wearing blue, but this shade just looks better."
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 30, 2019
Thursday was a big game for you, going back home to Texas and playing Dallas on Thanksgiving. What was it like to go to a place where you have a lot of history and not only see people you knew pretty well, but to have a huge celebration with new teammates after a big win that meant a lot to you.
Really for the team it was awesome to get that ninth win and just going back to a place where I played a lot of games in and having success was really cool. It was cool to see all my ex-teammates and people I used to play with and kind of catch up with those guys. Seeing everybody I spent a lot of time with and played in the trenches with. Those bonds never really go away when you’ve worked hard with a bunch of guys like that.
So it was cool to see them and it was awesome that we went out and played a great game and kind of showed everybody what we’re about. It was a big win for us.
Football is huge in Texas. You grew up in it and got to have your best game of the year on a big stage. What was it like to come back with this Bills team and win in Texas?
It was awesome. You say football is big in Texas — I kind of grew up in a family where that was what we did. My uncle was a head football coach for a long time in the Houston area. My dad was my head football coach in high school and even way before then. So I was kind of born into football and I’ve lived it my whole life. I grew up going to games and playing football games at a football game, with my friends. So it was kind of cool to come back to Texas and play football where it really all started for me. It brought me back a little bit.
I’m heading to Texas this week where my love for football started. 🏈 I’ve partnered with @PolarisORV and @dctf to find the Most Driven Texas High school football team this season. Go to https://t.co/CN2ZZnaoW8 to vote and enter for a chance to win a Polaris RANGER. pic.twitter.com/Vt5VmJGHTB
— Cole Beasley (@Bease11) November 26, 2019
You’re working with Polaris to do something special for high school football players like you from that state. What’s your involvement there?
I partnered with them and we partnered with Dave Campbell’s Texas Football to pick out five schools to give them something to play for a bit more than wins and losses. Dave Campbell, they own the Texas Football website. They have these short videos for the five schools they’ve chosen and people can go there and vote for which team is the most driven. It’s a pretty cool deal they’re putting on. Then they can win a Ranger XP1000 from Ranger. It’s pretty awesome.
Thanksgiving Day was a coming out party of sorts for the Bills, a team that maybe not many people outside of Western New York have watched this year. Did it mean a little extra for the team to get a big win with a lot of people watching?
You know, I’m not sure. This is my first year being with the Bills. And coming from the Cowboys, it’s so different. It’s been a little like a flip for me this year, so it’s been an interesting part of it. I think that was a lot of people’s first time to see us play. I think maybe they knew the record, but I don’t know. Most people don’t want to believe Buffalo is good, I don’t think? I don’t know what it is.
But I was just glad we could showcase who we are in the first game where people could really watch us so they could get a little about what we’re about. I don’t think we felt like we needed to prove anything to people, we know who we have in the room. We know what kinds of players and coaches we have. But I guess it was big for people to kind of see what we can do so they can believe as well. That’s not really what drives us, whether they know us or not. We’re still going to go out there and play our best game, and if they didn’t know now, maybe they’ll know later as we get down later in the season. We have to keep growing and make it to the playoffs so they’ll know regardless. So that’s not really for us to worry about, we just had to play our game.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) November 30, 2019
The Bills really haven’t been in a lot of situations like this over the last two decades: in December playing meaningful games in a playoff position. As a player when do you start to know your team might be building something special? A lot has gone right in Buffalo this year and fans are certainly excited, but when does it start to feel that way for you?
Over the course. It all starts in camp. You kind of build a foundation there, get to know everybody. You spend a lot of time grinding in camp and that kind of starts the bonds and everything that you need. But it happens gradually over the course of the season. There’s a lot of ups and downs through a season, and we’ve had al to of ups this year. Through those a lot of guys are working together and you grow closer and closer.
Buffalo’s an easy place to grow closer with your teammates. It’s not a huge city or a huge area. We’re all kind of in the same place, so outside of football games and practice we’re all together. That’s what we do. Somebody will throw a party and everybody’s kids and families are invited. So it’s a real tight-knit group a family-oriented team. And that allows us on Sunday, when you have a huge love for each teammate on your team it makes it so much easier to go out there and play for the guy next to you.
Which is kind of rare in our business these days, I think, because of all the money and business that’s involved. So it’s really more of a high school, college feel here as far as team atmosphere. And I think that’s what’s kind of pushing us over the edge a bit here as well.
You’ve worked with a few different quarterbacks in your career, most recently with Dak Prescott’s first few seasons in the NFL. What’s your role when you work with a young quarterback? Are you just trying to find chemistry with him or is there some guidance you can offer to help him get more comfortable?
They know a lot more about playing quarterback than I do so it’s really just trying to help them along the way, mostly by talking with them and making it easier on them within the game. So if it’s watching film and talking about what he wants to see from me on this play or how I need to be better to make it easier for him to find me. Because if a quarterback doesn’t know what you’re doing it’s gonna take that extra time that he doesn’t really have. You know, a quarterback and receiver being on the same page can make the game way easier and way slower for him, so really it’s just I have to be at my best so they can be at their best and really talking through it.
It’s reps, time on task and him seeing my body language and just getting used to me. That’s really more of what is than actually, you know it’s not like I’m coaching him or anything. They’ve played quarterback for a long time. They’ve played quarterback for a long time so really it’s just doing my part to make it easy for him to be a quarterback on the field.