Former Packers tight end Paul Coffman has a field of dreams in his back yard.
It's nothing like the pristine Lambeau Field grass he used to play on on Sundays during his NFL days from 1978-1985.
On these 40 acres, it's his children - Chase, 11; Carson, 10; Camille, 8; and Cameron, 6 - who are diving for catches, spiking the ball and coming in for dinner with grass stains.
"It's so neat watching your kids develop," Coffman says. "Not only as athletes, but as people - learning the hard work and discipline." The three-time Pro Bowl selection is sure to hand down to his kids some of the grit he has displayed time and again in his life.
Coffman, nicknamed "Hog," majored in grain milling at Kansas State, and wasn't scouted much, despite his second-team All-Big Eight status. But when friend and former KSU teammate, linebacker Gary Spani, had a tryout for former Packers assistant coach John Meyer, Coffman showed up, too, and persuaded Meyer to take a look at him.
Meyer never forgot Coffman. To this day.
"It was pouring rain outside," Meyer says, "and Paul Coffman says, 'Hey, would you mind looking at me (too)?' He was diving all over for passes, loose balls." Meyer stops to chuckle, then says, "I was impressed with his ability to catch the ball, and he was a gung-ho guy."
The next year, Coffman went undrafted. But when the Packers were looking for a tight end for camp, Meyer suggested Coffman, and the Packers signed him as a free agent. Coffman didn't catch any passes his first year in 1978.
But, remarkably, in just his second season, he started all 16 games, catching 56 balls to lead all tight ends in the National Football Conference. In all, he gained 711 yards that year, for a 12.7-yard average per catch, and four touchdowns, including a 78-yarder.
"If I'd a known then what I know now," Meyer says, "I'd have taken him in the first round.
"He had a crooked elbow that he couldn't straighten, many people don't know that. But he had a tremendous work ethic. He looked like a stork running down the field, but he got the most out of his ability as anyone, and he impressed people with his hard work and tenaciousness."
Like all good things, Coffman's career with Green Bay ended after the 1985 season, though he subsequently played two years with the Chiefs and one season with the Vikings. Now he lives in Peculiar, Mo., about 20 miles south of Kansas City. He bought 80 acres and farmed it for a while.
"But then I found I could make more selling lots (of land) than picking beans," Coffman says.
So he sold 40 acres and started selling chemicals to schools and hospitals for Meyer Labs on the side. He also does some public speaking.
But Coffman says he spends most of his time coaching his kids, and it keeps him plenty busy. In the summer, his field is a baseball diamond, and in the fall and winter, a football field.
Dad couldn't be more proud. His sons' baseball teams have participated in tournaments around the country.
When he's not busy coaching, Coffman says he still thinks about his Packer days.
"Just to be a part of the camaraderie with the other players, the friends, working together toward one goal...it seemed every year I'd cry at the end of the season."
Some of Coffman's tears, though, were for joy. One game sticks out.
"I just gave a video tape of the Redskins game to my friend," he says.
Coffman was referring to the 1983 Packers-Redskins game, when he caught 6 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown to help Green Bay defeat Washington, 48-47, in the highest-scoring "Monday Night Football" game ever.
Coffman laughs and says, "My friend doesn't believe I could play like that in a game."
Coffman went on to prove to all doubters how good he really was, becoming one of the Packers' most prolific pass receivers in the team's storied history. He caught 322 passes for 4,223 yards and 39 touchdowns, earning him induction into the Packer Hall of Fame in 1994.
Coffman says he has had a tougher go in his own backyard.
"Sometimes I think just because I was a pro athlete, I know how to coach kids," he says. "But sometimes I tell them what to do and it just doesn't work. So I have to learn when to back off a little and just let them play."
Who knows? Maybe there's another star Coffman in the works.
They have a pretty darn good role model.
GREEN BAY PACKERS SEASON RESULTS (1978-85)
1978: 8-7-1 (2nd NFC Central)
1979: 5-11 (4th NFC Central)
1980: 5-10-1 (T-4th NFC Central)
1981: 8-8 (T-2nd NFC Central)
1982: 5-3-1 (3rd NFC)
1983: 8-8 (T-2nd NFC Central)
1984: 8-8 (2nd NFC Central)
1985: 8-8 (2nd NFC Central)