A.J. Green’s comments Thursday that he wouldn’t play if his son was born on a game day may have raised some eyebrows among fans, but inside the Cincinnati Bengals locker room there was nothing but support.
“That’s something you can’t miss,” said wide receiver Brandon LaFell, who didn’t have to worry about the conflict when both of his children were born in the offseason.
“I was proud of A.J. for saying that,” tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “It’s your kid. It’s important. It’s always good to see somebody like A.J. that always seems to do the right thing.”
Unlike LaFell, Whitworth had a close call when his daughter Katherine was born in 2014.
Whitworth said his wife, Melissa, was due in the middle of a window in which the Bengals played three games in 11 days.
“We knew there was a high chance of her coming close to a game day,” Whitworth said. “I would have missed the game. We had already decided that.”
Fortunately for the Bengals, Katherine – the couple’s fourth child who was born on quarterback Andy Dalton’s birthday of Oct. 29 – arrived a Thursday morning, three days before the team beat the Jacksonville Jaguars 33-23 on a Sunday afternoon.
Defensive tackle Domata Peko had an even closer call during his senior season at Michigan State. His first son, Domata Jr., arrived the day before the Spartans played their rivalry game against Michigan.
“We were blessed that the timing was perfect and the baby was healthy,” Peko said.
The following day, Peko returned a fumble 74 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 31.
“It was a big one, and I took one to the house,” he said of what remains the only touchdown of his college or pro career. “I did it for my son. It was awesome.”
Long snapper Clark Harris’ second son, Troy, arrived Tuesday — an off day for the players. He said he wouldn’t think twice about skipping a preseason game, but it would be a difficult decision in the regular season.
“That’s where (Green) and I are different,” Harris said. “We have other guys on the team that catch passes. We don’t have another long snapper.”
Cornerback Adam Jones has one daughter who was born in the offseason and one who was born in the preseason.
“If my daughter was born on a game day during the season? I’d have to miss that game,” he said. “Well, I don’t know if I’d miss it, but I’m gonna have to be late. I’m not leaving the hospital til I cut the cord.”