INDIANAPOLIS – The guiding role a father can play in a child's life is one that is special and has an impact that cannot be quantified.
A loving father shapes the lives of children through all avenues of life and no matter what one may accomplish, the direction received is not forgotten.
Anthony Castonzo received such guidance as a young man and to this day and going forward, he looks to have that influence in his life.
Castonzo joined the Colts as a first-round draft choice in 2011. It was the culmination of years of effort and sacrifice.
Like some players, Castonzo played for his father early on, and he was instilled with a message right off the bat that follows him to this day.
"My dad, Bill, was very prevalent in my life growing up. He was basically my first coach," said Castonzo. "He was my coach all throughout pee-wee football, and he instilled the values I have in me today.
"When we used to play, we'd break the practice down with, 'RIP," which stood for respect, integrity and pride. It taught me how to have respect for myself and for the game, integrity in what I did no matter who was watching and to take pride in every (practice) rep and everything you do. I've kind of lived with that mantra all through my career."
Being a first-round choice by an NFL team would seem to imply that finding a school interested in one's talents was an easy process. For Castonzo, that was not the case, but dad assisted.
"I needed his help when I was choosing colleges," said the player taken 22nd overall by the Colts in 2011. "I had zero scholarship offers. I was hearing from a lot of places that I was not going to be able to play big-time college football.
"My dad stuck behind me the whole way. He told me he believed I had the ability to be a big-time football player. He steered me on the path to not short-change myself. That's basically why I am here today."
Castonzo's Boston College career ended up being more than ideal. He started a school-record 54 games as an offensive tackle. He attended the Fork Union Military Academy in 2006 in preparation. It was his father's suggestion.
Castonzo left Boston College as a Rhodes Scholarship candidate with a degree in biochemistry. Support from home helped Castonzo succeed.
"The communication has always been back-and-forth with my parents and me," said Castonzo. "I kind of take all the wise words my parents have to say and see how the advice relates to my life.
"I go back and forth and analyze what they say, and I say, 'That's the truth, you're right.' It's a great relationship we have where I find my own way as well as listening to advice."
Can a father also be a personal hero?
"Absolutely," said Castonzo. "My dad made sure we had what we wanted growing up. He provided for us. He's lived by the same morals his whole life. He hasn't changed. I'd definitely say he is my hero in addition to being my father.
"He helped me become my own man. I have a lot of good things from my father that I can pass on to future generations in my family to help his legacy live on."
Now in his third year with the Colts, Castonzo is entrenched in his career. While he is a grown man and thriving professional, Castonzo always will be thankful for the presence and support provided by Bill.
"He's always going to be my dad. There are two things he's always going to be – my dad and my coach," said Castonzo. "Even when I come off the field after pro games, he tells me what I saw. He's always going to give me a pat on the back when I'm down. He's always going to knock me down a peg or two if I'm feeling too high. He keeps me even-keeled.
"My dad is my rock. He's always going to be there for me. I'm fortunate to have him in my life."