Great Moments In Pro Sports Paternity Leave
Prior to Game 3 against the Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings stars Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall were uncertain about taking the ice thanks to a title even more demanding
than “Assistant Captain” — New Father. Their coach’s take — “They’re not giving birth, their wives are” — was unsurprising, since of the four major sports, only baseball’s CBA specifically addresses paternity leave (3 days max). Ultimately, both played, adding another chapter to the always newsworthy saga of professional athletes and their laboring wives.
David Williams, Houston Oilers (1993)
After the offensive tackle’s wife suffered a painful miscarriage the year before, Williams skipped a mid-season road game to stay with his wife after the Saturday evening birth of his son. The team fined him, and his position coach accused him of letting his team and “hundreds of thousands of fans” down, suggesting the decision was akin to skipping World War 2. Even diehard Texas football fans found that last bit offensive as “Babygate” sentiment turned overwhelmingly in Williams’ favor. Then defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan punched offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride in the face, and everybody forgot about it.
Brendon Ayanbadejo, Miami Dolphins (2005)
With his wife due with their first child during training camp, Ayanbadejo notified his coach, Nick Saban, that he planned to be there for the birth. Saban made it clear he was expected to be at practice. The linebacker did his best to abide by the coaches wishes but ultimately missed one day, plus a few hours, after his wife was bedridden following a c-section. Three days later, Ayanbadejo was traded. Seven years later, he won a Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens. Saban lasted two years as an NFL coach. He didn’t win any Super Bowls.
Chris Bosh, Miami Heat (2012)
The night before the Heat’s third playoff game against the Knicks, Bosh’s wife went into labor. Having just arrived at his hotel room, the all-star forward spun a 180 and was back to Miami to greet his new son in the wee hours of the morning. Then he spun another 180, made it to Madison Square Garden less than a half hour before tip off, and grabbed 10 rebounds to help the Heat go up 3-0 on a team that, frankly, they should have been able to beat with Juwan Howard starting.
Daniel Murphy, New York Mets (2014)
The second baseman missed the first two games of this season to be there for the birth of his son, but the headlines all focused on Boomer Esiason and Mike Francesca’s radio rant. Both took Murphy to task and were surprised by the negative backlash. Esiason ultimately apologized; Francesca remains unrepentant.