Why NFL star A.J. Green says he'll proudly miss a game for his family.

In 1993, Houston Oilers player David Williams missed his team's game against the New England Patriots because his wife was giving birth to their first child.

The criticism was swift and furious. And it wasn't just fans who were disappointed that Williams wasn't out on the field — team management was, too.

Williams, left, was an offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers from 1989-1995. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Allsport/Getty Images.


"This is like World War II, when guys were going to war and something would come up but they had to go," one of Williams' coaches told The New York Times. "[Williams] let the guys down, and he let hundreds of thousands of fans down."

At the time, the team even threatened to fine Williams for missing the game, if you can believe it.

But today, in 2016, a major NFL star says he's willing to follow in Williams' footsteps.

A.J. Green is an awesome football player. So far it sounds like he might turn into a pretty good dad, too. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images.

Superstar wideout A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals, whose wife is due with their first child in late September — smack dab in the middle of football season — said he wouldn't hesitate to skip a game if it meant watching his firstborn come into the world.

"I can't play," he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "First one, I definitely want to be there."

Though he added, "Anything before a game day would be ideal."

Green's absence, even for just one game, would be devastating for the Bengals. He's a perennial Pro Bowl player and widely considered to be one of the best at his position in the league. Still, as important as he is to his team, it sounds like Green knows his wife and soon-to-be son or daughter will be counting on him even more.

Babies being born on game day has often (and unfortunately) been controversial for professional athletes.

Williams and Green aren't the only athletes to ever have to address this conundrum either.

Joe Flacco missed the birth of one of his sons to play in a game. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images.

Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens skipped the birth of his second son a few years ago to start in a regular season game. In response, a few folks scratched their heads at his decision. Mostly, though, there were jokes. Lots of jokes.

Compare that to former Mets player Daniel Murphy, who did the opposite — he skipped the first two games of the 2015 MLB season to be with his newborn son. And he got eviscerated by analysts and former players for it.

"Go see the baby born and come back," radio host Mike Francesca said. "You're a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help."

Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason piled on, saying Murphy and his wife should have scheduled a C-section before the season started to ensure he didn't miss any time. Esiason later apologized.

"You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help." — radio sports host Mike Francesca

This time, though, it seems like Green is setting a new standard. And his teammates appear fully behind his decision, too.

"I was proud of A.J. for saying that," teammate Andrew Whitworth told The Dayton Daily News. "It's your kid. It's important."

"That's something you can't miss," wide receiver Brandon LaFell added.

Of course, it would be ideal if a dad simply being there for the birth of his kid wasn't worth applauding. But its not just athletes who get shamed and punished for stepping away from work after birth; other dads do, too. So it's nice to see someone braving the backlash and normalizing the idea that men being there for their families is a good thing.

The fact that the traditionally rude, crude, hyper-masculine NFL locker room is standing behind Green's desire to be with his family is a sign that maybe we have made progress after all. And, hopefully, the next time a big-time athlete decides to put family first and skip a game, it won't make headlines.

True
Frito-Lay

Did you know one in five families are unable to provide everyday essentials and food for their children? This summer was also the hungriest on record with one in four children not knowing where their next meal will come from – an increase from one in seven children prior to the pandemic. The effects of COVID-19 continue to be felt around the country and many people struggle to secure basic needs. Unemployment is at an all-time high and an alarming number of families face food insecurity, not only from the increased financial burdens but also because many students and families rely on schools for school meal programs and other daily essentials.

This school year is unlike any other. Frito-Lay knew the critical need to ensure children have enough food and resources to succeed. The company quickly pivoted to expand its partnership with Feed the Children, a leading nonprofit focused on alleviating childhood hunger, to create the "Building the Future Together" program to provide shelf-stable food to supplement more than a quarter-million meals and distribute 500,000 pantry staples, school supplies, snacks, books, hand sanitizer, and personal care items to schools in underserved communities.

Keep Reading Show less

One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

Keep Reading Show less
True

$200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


via Tom Ward / Instagram

Artist Tom Ward has used his incredible illustration techniques to give us some new perspective on modern life through popular Disney characters. "Disney characters are so iconic that I thought transporting them to our modern world could help us see it through new eyes," he told The Metro.

Tom says he wanted to bring to life "the times we live in and communicate topical issues in a relatable way."

In Ward's "Alt Disney" series, Prince Charming and Pinocchio have fallen victim to smart phone addiction. Ariel is living in a polluted ocean, and Simba and Baloo have been abused by humans.

Keep Reading Show less

How we talk about Black Lives Matter protests across America is often a reflection of how we personally feel about the fight for racial equality itself. We're all biased toward our own preferences and a fractured news media hasn't helped things by skewing facts, emphasizing preferred narratives and neglecting important stories, oftentimes out of fear that they might alienate their increasingly partisan and entrenched audiences.

This has been painfully clear in how we report on and talk about the protests themselves. Are they organized by Antifa and angry mobs of BLM renegades hell bent on the destruction of everything wholesome about America? Or, are they entirely peaceful demonstrations in which only the law enforcement officers are the bad actors? The uncomfortable truth is that both extreme narratives ignore key facts. The overwhelming majority of protests have been peaceful.protests have been peaceful. The facts there are clear. And the police have also provoked acts of aggression against peaceful demonstrators, leading to injuries and unnecessary arrests. Yet, there have been glaring exceptions of vandalism, intimidation and violence in cities like Portland, Seattle, and most recently, Louisville. And while some go so far as to quite literally defend looting, that's a view far outside the mainstream of nearly all Americans across various age, racial and cultural demographics.

But what if we step away from the larger philosophical debate and narrow things down to one very important fact: the vast majority of those stirring division at protests are white.

And if you don't believe me, just listen to Durham, North Carolina's mayor and what he had to say about how white people are "hijacking" Breonna Taylor's legacy and transforming a movement that has suddenly split Americans after having near unanimous support just a few months ago.


Keep Reading Show less