Nov 17, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears cinjured ornerback Charles Tillman (right) talks with injured outside linebacker Lance Briggs (left) before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Players and Paternity Leave

The beginning of baseball season inadvertently brought up the idea of male athletes and their options of taking paternity leave for the birth of their children. Former NFL quarterback and now radio host Boomer Esiason openly criticized New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy for missing the Mets opening day to be at his wife’s side for an unscheduled C-section delivery of their first child.

That prompted a column from former NFL linebacker-turned Fox Sports reporter Brendon Ayanbadejo on how he believes the Miami Dolphins traded him after he missed a practice for the birth of his child.

In 2012 Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio openly criticized Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman, who was having a potential DPOY season at the time as well as the Bears being in the playoff hunt, for saying that he’d be willing to miss a game if his wife had gone into labor on a game day. In both Esiason’s and Florio’s case, the men suggested that the athletes had an obligation to their teams and should plan their family expansions during times more convenient to their playing schedules.

While I can’t even begin to stop shaking my head at the thought of grown men so arrogant to think that they can dismiss these athlete’s wives so much that they think they should have or even could have planned their childbirth around a season the problem that I most have with this criticism is from the point of view as a daughter. Seems as though these guys forget that a whole person is being brought into this world who doesn’t know a thing about MLB or the NFL. Why don’t they deserve to have their father present just because they can do awesome things on a field?

To be fair to Boomer, he backed off of his comments and apologized to the Murphy’s for suggesting that a C-section is such a cavalier event it can be just taken care of before a season starts the same way you’d get your oil changed or tires rotated before going on a road trip.

Why would you send a message to a man that being a father isn’t as important as being a professional athlete? It’s true that these men are able to provide their children with more things because of their profession, but kids don’t need just money from their fathers. A professional athlete does have an obligation to the team that pays him millions of dollars to play a sport, but he’s got a bigger obligation to a person he helped create and bring into this world. What about when these kids grow up and see men who they’ve never known and might not have ever heard of spent hours debating whether or not their father should have attended their birth?

There are too many instances where too much importance is placed on what these guys can do on the field. It’s used as an excuse for why a player should return to the field after he’s arrested for whatever reason. It’s used as an excuse for why it’s ok to accept awful behavior in any other circumstance because of what a man can do on the field.

It seriously shouldn’t be the excuse for why they should start fatherhood off as just the guy who makes all the money.

Maybe if it starts with that, maybe it should start with sending the message to professional athletes that while their talents on the field are valuable, their contributions off the field are even more valuable because they are lasting.

Tags: Boomer Esiason Brendon Ayanbadejo Charles Tillman Daniel Murphy NFL

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