Charles “Peanut” Tillman, who is having a MVP-like season for the 7-1 Chicago Bears’ defense, has come under fire for saying he may miss Sunday Night’s huge match-up against the Texans if his wife goes into labor.  The Bears defense is as good as it gets this season, and Peanut is an essential ingredient to its continued success.   Let it be known that the stones which are flying Peanut’s way, are being thrown by Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio who gave his very clear opinion on why Tillman should not miss the game.  I understand that Mike seems to be playing devils advocate for more page-views  but in doing so he has trivialized one of the most important items in life, family.

If push comes to shove, however, should they choose to be present for the pushing and not the shoving?

It’s a thorny issue.  My position was and is that the players have made a lifestyle choice that entails being available 16 days per year, no matter what.  If they choose not to plan their nine-month family expansion activities to coincide with the eight months per year when their work activities don’t entail playing games that count, why should their teams suffer the consequences?

The magnitude of the game is mainly the reason for all of the hype around Tillman’s decision to miss the game.  It is mid-season and two 7-1 teams are going head-to-head looking for some separation from the rest of the pack.  If you remember from September of this year another notable NFL player said the same thing regarding missing a game if his wife was having a child, but there was no uproar.

“I’m not missing the birth of my child,” Roethlisberger told Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s no chance. I know some fans probably don’t want to hear that, but there’s no chance.”

 And mind you, that is coming from a quarterback not a cornerback.
As for players who have actually skipped a game for a child birth, there is the unfortunate case of Houston Oilers offensive tackle David Williams who skipped a Sunday game back in 1993 because his wife gave birth the night before, and the Oilers withheld that game’s paycheck.   Oilers offensive line coach Bob Young came out following the incident and said that he had personally skipped the birth of his own child for a football game and ‘was outraged that Williams wouldn’t do the same.” 

“This is like World War II, when guys were going to war and something would come up but they had to go,” Bob Young, the Oilers’ offensive-line coach, was quoted as saying just after the game Sunday. Later, he added: “My wife told me she was having a baby and I said, ‘Honey, I’ve got to go play a football game.’ David just went blank. He let the guys down, and he let hundreds of thousands of fans down.”

There have been a few incredible articles written and teammate comments in response to Florio’s comments stating that Tillman should be with his wife if need be, and I fully agree.  Most importantly, I think that Peanut nailed the only argument you need on Wednesday when he spoke with the media:

“At the end of the day, [family is] all that you have,” Tillman said on Wednesday, after his comments that he would possibly miss the game to be with his family. “This game is important to me, but after what we went through with my middle child Tiana (his daughter Tiana was born with an enlarged heart), to me football is second … “It’ll always be second or third in my life. That was a great lesson learned, to teach me that family — when I’m done playing football — my family will always be there for me.”

Yes, Tillman gets paid a large amount of money to play football, but at the end of the day the sport that you and I love so much, is just that, a sport.  I don’t care if I get paid $30,000 a year to take out the trash or if I got paid $5 Million a year to play football, if my wife is having a child you better believe that nothing could keep me from being by her side when it happens.  Good for you, Peanut.