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Scoggins: Why Winfield's richest contract has roots in Eden Prairie bedtimes

Dad would get home from work, have playtime with his three sons, then homework, then baths, then bedtime. That was the rhythmic routine back then in the Winfield home in Eden Prairie.

Once the kids were tucked in, Antoine Winfield would climb into his bed and turn on video of him covering NFL receivers as an All-Pro cornerback for the Vikings.

Without fail, he would be joined by a visitor, oldest son Antoine Jr., still in elementary school.

"His room was right next to mine," Antoine Sr. said over the phone. "He would crawl into bed with me. I'm playing Calvin Johnson or whoever. He's asking questions — 'Why do you do this, dad? Why do you do that?' He understood the lingo.

"I told him, 'Listen, I have the blueprint. If you want to go to the NFL, I'm going to show you everything you need to do. If you do the work, guarantee you make it.'"

Proud Papa shared that memory 24 hours after his son signed a contract last week that makes him the highest-paid defensive back in NFL history.

The former Gophers All-America safety signed a four-year, $84.1 million deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, a pact that includes $45 million guaranteed.

Winfield visited his parents in Houston on Sunday for Mother's Day, then signed his historic deal the next day.

His dad's voice burst through the phone when I asked how the family is doing after saying hello.

"Hey, hey, hey," Winfield said, his voice rising. "After yesterday, amazing."

Dad understands better than most that his son's NFL résumé already puts in him select company, and he's still only 25.

In just four seasons, Antoine Jr. has won a Super Bowl, been named first-team All-Pro and signed the record-breaking contract. He is the only player since the NFL began tracking data in 1999 to record 100 tackles and at least three sacks, three interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in a single season.

Antoine Jr. is a big-play machine, producing more game-altering highlights than just about any defensive player in the league in what is a continuation of his legacy with the Gophers.

He even stood out as a rookie on the biggest stage, Super Bowl LV vs. the Chiefs. Winfield intercepted Patrick Mahomes once and later flashed a peace sign at Tyreek Hill after a pass breakup, a retort to Hill taunting Winfield with his signature move in a matchup earlier that season.

Did Dad enjoy seeing his son throw up the peace sign?

"Ab-so-lutely," Winfield said, laughing. "You can't embarrass us in a game and not expect us to get you back."

Antoine Sr. is thrilled by everything happening in his son's life, but not surprised by it.

"He's been learning the game since he was 5 years old," he said.

That's around the time that Antoine Jr. started to join his dad in their backyard to work on footwork, backpedaling and change of direction drills.

The elder Winfield played nine seasons for the Vikings from 2004-12. He perfected the slot/nickel corner position as a hard-hitting tackler who dissected the game as if he had a Ph.D. in football.

With Antoine Jr. already studying film, father and son spent hours discussing the art of playing defensive back.

"From Day 1, he loved the game as much as I loved the game," Dad said. "Mentally, he could handle everything I was teaching him. He would make a mistake once and never make the same mistake twice. I'm like, oh, we're on to something."

The family moved to Houston after his final season with the Vikings in 2012. Their house had a workout room, which became Antoine Jr.'s favorite spot. Father and son are roughly the same height (5-9), but Antoine Jr. is 25 pounds heavier due to all those hours spent in the home weight room.

Antoine Sr. noticed early on that his son had remarkable instincts and figured free safety would suit him better than cornerback.

"Put him in the middle of the field and let him roam," he said. "And he made play after play after play."

He's still doing it. Now he's considered the best safety in the NFL.

"It's an amazing feeling for me," Sr. said. "But more so, I'm just happy for him. This is his dream. He grew up in a house with me, watching me play, enjoying my success. He knew this is what he wanted to do at a very early age."

They both knew it. All those nights snuggled together in bed, watching film, talking strategy: a dad and his son laying the foundation for a career that already is grander than either could have possibly imagined.