Last month, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins became a dad when his wife Julie gave birth to their son Cooper. While Cousins said it was “the top experience of my life so far”, he’s not letting fatherhood get in the way of his duties as an NFL player. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Cousins revealed that in order to not miss a meeting with the team, he FaceTimed with his coaches and teammates while his wife was giving birth.
“Oh, I haven’t missed a practice since I’ve been here,” Cousins explained. “That was my first one. Going into a Monday Night Football game against the Chiefs that week, I didn’t really want to miss a day. But Colt [McCoy, my backup,] set up his phone in the quarterback meeting room and we got on FaceTime. I was basically there without being there.”
Ignoring his wife trying to push their child out of her to talk football seems like a rather inconsiderate move on Cousins but he insisted that Julie was cool with it, even though she could hear Cousins’ coaches and teammates talking during labor.
“When she needed to grab my hand to get through a contraction for 30 seconds, I was there — and I had my iPad next to me, looking at cut-ups, in between,” Cousins says. “I think our doula thought that was weird. She wanted me a little more present. But Julie understood.”
It would be easy to call out Cousins for his boneheaded delivery room etiquette but this sort of behavior is, unfortunately, the norm in the NFL — and pro sports in general. Baseball is still the only major sport in the US to offer any kind of paternity leave. And the few baseball players that have taken advantage of the policy, which allows players to miss no more than three games, have been criticized for not taking their job seriously.
In the end, Cousins’ decision is his and his alone. But his hand was undoubtedly forced by the pro sports culture. This kind of backward thinking is so often on full display and until traditionally masculine organizations in the spotlight make some major changes in policy and culture, things won’t change. Otherwise, out patterns and two-minute drills will continue to take precedence over parenting.