FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Jeff George Jr. wasn’t always big on fatherly advice.
It didn’t matter that his old man was a howitzer-armed quarterback selected No. 1 overall in the 1990 NFL draft and went on to play a dozen years.
He was just dad. And dad got that.
“I think when your kids are younger, they just want to go out and play and watch a football game,” Jeff Sr. said last week, taking a short break from watching his son, also a quarterback, compete at the House of Athlete combine.
“I’m being critical of every game, every sport. I’m quizzing all my kids or reading defenses on TV, like, ‘What do you see here, what offensive play, what would you call here?’ I think when they were younger, they always just said, ‘Hey dad, shut up. Let me just enjoy the game.’ ’’
The older George recalled a specific example that took place in, of all places, Boston.
“We’re big Red Sox fans, and we’re at a Red Sox game back when he was probably in seventh grade and we’re analyzing hitters and I tell him, ‘OK, count’s 1-0, what do you expect on this pitch?’ ” he said. “He looked at me in Fenway, beautiful Fenway, and he said, ‘Dad, I’m at Fenway Park. Can I just enjoy the Green Monster and my team and watch, and not analyze the game?’ I just thought to myself, ‘Ah, you’re right, just enjoy it.’ ’’
Fast-forward a decade and the younger George, preparing for professional career, has come around on the “Father Knows Best” line of thinking.
“Yeah, just a tremendous blessing,” Jeff Jr. said, shortly after playing catch with his dad. “For a guy that has walked in the shoes I’m now walking in, gone through the same stuff that I have, to able to have that as a resource, I think it’s the greatest asset in the world, for sure.”
Built similarly to his dad, the 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pound George Jr. played at Illinois before transferring to Michigan and then Pittsburgh. Now he’s ready to take his shot at the NFL.
George has a strong, accurate arm and good pocket presence. His footwork and athleticism have improved, and that was obvious from his workouts during the combine.
“I definitely feel like I’ve gotten a lot faster,” he said. “I think I surprise people now with my athleticism. I think a lot of people think I’m more of just a sit-back-in-the-pocket guy, which I do like to do, but I can also move a little bit.”
The George family’s connection to Boston and the Red Sox came from spending spring trainings in Fort Myers, Fla., with relatives from Lowell. Jeff Jr. was all in and adopted all the Boston teams, including the Patriots — not easy for an Indianapolis kid.
“Growing up, all my friends were definitely Colts fans, with me being the lone guy that loves New England and Boston,” he said. “It was interesting.”
Naturally, George is a huge Tom Brady fan.
“Honest to God, I would say other than my dad, he’s definitely the guy that I’ve tried to really emulate in molding myself and my game,” said George, who also enjoys watching film of NFL greats Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, and Philip Rivers.
The older George, whose younger son, Jayden, is a QB at Alabama, said he does see some similarities to his style when he watches Jeff play, but there is a big difference.
“They’re way ahead of me, when I was that age, in the mental part of the game,” he said. “Physically, everybody can throw the ball — you can throw it 70 yards — but it’s when you’re underneath the center, understanding what they’re doing to you is where he’s much better than I was.
“I’m excited for the opportunity for him, and to see what happens over the next couple of months.”
Former Browns coach Hue Jackson, who has worked with the HOA athletes the last six weeks and was on Washington’s NFL staff in 2000-01 when the older George was on the roster, has been impressed by Jeff Jr.
“I’ve watched this young man just get better every week,” he said. “The thing I love about him is that he grinds at it. Football is important to him and he goes after it. I think if he can get an opportunity to get into a camp, he’ll compete.”