How Do NFL Dads Tackle Fatherhood?
America’s favorite sport is in full swing. Many shows are trying to get your attention to the football players on the field, but one program is trying to show you what they are like at home with their kids. My Life As A Dad, a new YouTube series, is exploring the down-to-earth side of the mega-athletes we cheer for every weekend. The popular football daddies of the day sit down for a short interview talking about their experiences and giving advice to young papas out there.
Benjamin Watson, New Orleans Saints
New Orleans Saints tight-end Benjamin Watson may be the real-life saint for the mother of his children.
He is the “any time, all the time dad,” except during the season when he’s just the “night time” father. He uses that time to let his wife rest while he’s bathing the kids, then singing and praying with them before they go to bed.
Watson even cooks. And more than the pancakes he makes for breakfast every once in a while. “I’ll try to help as much as I can with dinner,” he said.
His main focus is to never let his wife, Kirsten, think that she is raising their four kids by herself. It’s tough during the season because he is away for a long time but when he’s home, he does his part.
The best way Watson knows how to help Kirsten is by having a date night once a week. “The biggest support of the mom, I think, is cultivating the relationship between you and her because the kids can see that,” he said.
Watson strongly believes that the bond between the mother and the father is the biggest key for stability in the family. The kids should even see you argue so they can see you apologize or ask for forgiveness if you need to.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
You may think that the son of an NFL player who makes millions will be getting every piece of clothing, shoes or tech gadgets he wants. In this case, you’d be right. All of these material things, however, come with a message: “I work and that’s why I am able to do this for you now.”
That is what Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker tells his son Delanie Jr. The one lesson his son is learning very early on is that nothing will be given to you on a platter and that you have to earn what you have.
Delanie Sr. is living the “almost average life” with his son when he has him during the NFL’s off season. He stated he appreciates these moments, probably more than some other dads, because he never knew his father: “When I found out I was having a son, I said I can’t be that way.”
The feeling of being responsible for your kid and making sure he knows who you are never let Delanie Sr. go. All the child wants to know is that you’re there; he doesn’t care about anything else, the “active” daddy said. “I just put that through his head: ‘If I need him, he’s going to come.'”
Orlando Scandrick, Dallas Cowboys
When Dallas Cowboys’ cornerback Orlando Scandrick learned he was going to be a father of twins at 21, he said he thought his life was over. “I didn’t know what I had done or what I had gotten myself to.”
Four years later, Scandrick seems to have found his way and now appears to have everything under control. If your kid can’t or doesn’t want to go to sleep when he or she is supposed to, and you’re running out of options, try giving them chewable vitamins. “That usually does the trick,” Scandrick said.
Scandrick doesn’t have a bedtime routine and there aren’t any rules. “They just have to be in their bed or in their room, and they can watch TV until they fall asleep… normally by 8:30. Sometimes I read a book, tuck them in,” he added.
Scandrick may make it sound easy but it certainly wasn’t… at least not in the beginning. It took him some time to realize and just accept that his life was changing forever. “You can’t just get up and go wherever you want and do whatever you want to do. You have to put your child first.”
He has really matured, which is something parenthood forces you to do no matter how old you are, according to Scandrick. And when everything got real for him, “it could not have turned out any better,” he said. “I love them more than anything in the world.”
He has obviously learned a lot. Just don’t ask him anything about hairdos and hairstyles.
Michael Robinson, Seattle Seahawks
What is the most important thing Super Bowl 2014 Champion Michael Robinson can teach his kids? He wants them to learn by example.
For him that means being nice to his wife so that his son knows how to treat a woman and his daughters know what kind of person they should marry. “They learn better by observing you,” he said.
Robinson actually learned that from one of his coaches: who told him, “I knew this was serous when she came to me and said, ‘Dad, I love him and he reminds me so much of you.’ When you hear that you know you’ve done a good job.”
Another thing Robinson is really trying to teach his children is not to be afraid to “use your own brain.” Simple but to the point, he never wants his four kids to be influenced by other people’s opinion.
Why? Because being able to trust yourself means you have a strong personality. “I always want them to tell themselves ‘I know what’s right, and I’m going to do what I think is right.”
The last advice Robinson has for other daddies out there (if they need it): Always keep your word. Look your children in the eye and don’t lie to them.