It was July of 2022 and Lindsey, Cooper and I were leaving our Florida home to report back for our second training camp in Detroit. We kept the news quiet, but we were also excited to be growing into a family of four.
The night before our flight, Lindsey wasn’t feeling well, and the bleeding was a sign that something was wrong.
We landed at DTW, and the bleeding had gotten worse. Our hearts sank. I called our OB/GYN from the McNamara Terminal and we rushed to an appointment the next day. The doctors confirmed that our worst nightmare had unfolded.
We drove home, collapsed into each other’s arms, and we wept.
Lindsey and I first met at a college party on my recruiting visit to Florida. She was already in college and played soccer for the Gators, and I was a high schooler from Pennsylvania committed to Notre Dame at the time. Long story short, I flipped my commitment late in the process and traded in my last semester of high school to enroll early at Florida in January of 2013.
She remembers seeing me on my scooter going to class one day, and she’s like, ‘Oh, Notre Dame came.’ We were in the same group of friends pretty quickly, we started talking after a little while, and four months later, we became committed boyfriend and girlfriend. We were even Facebook official. And since our relationship would have started at the end of my senior year, I technically think that makes us high school sweethearts.
I hadn’t had been in a serious relationship in high school or anything like that, but with Lindsey, I just knew she was the one. She was fun, she was cool, she played sports. She understood my football world and I understood her soccer world.
Since she graduated a year before me, she was only at Florida until the end of my junior season. At that point, I didn’t necessarily know if the NFL was a possibility or not, and we didn’t know where our lives were going. We had been together for three years, we were serious, and we knew that we loved each other.
She stayed in Gainesville selling real estate my senior season, and she did really well in it. I had a good year on the field, and then all of a sudden, the thought was, ‘I have to do the pre-Draft process. I need to train. I’m supposed to get drafted in the second or third round.’
My life started to move really fast, just like that. I had no idea where football would take me.
I wouldn’t say it was hard, but that’s really the first time you start hearing comments as a couple like, ‘Well, what are you guys going to do?’ We never really had to deal with that because we were always in Florida together.
I HAD NO IDEA
WHERE FOOTBALL WOULD TAKE ME
I got drafted by the Saints in 2017 and immediately headed down for rookie mini-camp. We did long distance through all of training camp and up until the second regular season game. At that point, we knew we couldn’t do long distance anymore. We needed to be together. We’re the type of couple that enjoys being together 24/7. We don’t get sick of it. We’re best friends.
She was only in town for two weeks before I got hurt in my fourth game, which was in London, and I spent the rest of my rookie year on IR.
But that entire situation was hard for Lindsey. We didn’t have a plan, and she had no clue what to do for work in a new city. We weren’t combining finances or anything, and as a parent now, I get it. I wouldn’t advise my child to move to a different state with a boyfriend without a commitment. Looking back, I probably should have proposed to her then, but it was hard to feel like the timing was right. I was only 22 years old and the NFL wasn’t really on my radar throughout college, then it happened quick, and it was just a whirlwind. I got hurt so early in my career and I barely even understood what IR was. Life was just moving at a very fast pace.
It kind of worked out that I got hurt in a way because we were able to spend time together and try to figure out the future.
I proposed to Lindsey during the offseason in the Turks and Caicos and we got married exactly one year later.
It kind of worked out that I got hurt in a way because we were able to spend time together and try to figure out the future.
We found out Lindsey was pregnant with our son Cooper in April of 2020, and that was perfect because we thought, ’40 weeks? COVID-19’s going to be over by then!’
Lindsey and I took COVID-19 pretty seriously because, you know, people were actually dying out there and we knew getting sick could affect the baby. I remember days of players testing positive and I’d question, ‘Shoot, was I around that person?’ I’d call Lindsey and tell her, ‘Hey, so-and-so tested positive, so I’m going to stay at the hotel tonight until I’m 100% cleared.’ There’d be times where I’d come home with to-go meals from the facility, and she’d be sitting on the porch, and I’d be sitting in the trunk of the car from a distance.
Going through a pregnancy is hard enough, but going through a pregnancy with no visitors or no one to hang out with is lonely – especially when you’re not even in your home state. I’m away all day and I’m away for road games, so I know that stretch of time was the hardest thing that she’d gone through at that point, and that’s all before she even gave birth. That was from July through January, so she pretty much had to live isolated for the entire pregnancy.
Anger can be incredible fuel, but when it is your sole source of fuel for an extended period of time, it will wear you down.
We had a playoff game against the Bears on Jan. 10, 2021, and since she was 40 weeks pregnant, she was going to be induced that night. I had buddies telling me in pre-game warmups, ‘Hey, you’re about to have a baby tonight!’ It was nuts. I did a really good job compartmentalizing and focusing on football during the game. I played well, and as soon as it was over, I drove home as quickly as you can without speeding. I promise I didn’t speed.
We got to the hospital around 9:00pm and she starts going through the process of getting the Pitocin and that whole ordeal. I remember hearing stories of guys being uncomfortable in the bed there, so I brought my own blow-up mattress. That first night is crazy and they tell you to get rest because the inducing process is going to take some time to kick in, but you’re just so excited that it’s hard to sleep.
She gave birth Monday night at 9:00pm, and the next thing you know, I’m holding my baby and I remember thinking, ‘This is the most insane thing ever.’
We lost our next playoff game six days later, that was it for the season, and that was it for me in New Orleans. I was a free agent, and I knew I probably needed a fresh start.
It was time to get back home to Florida with Cooper and Lindsey and be around friends and family for the first time in what felt like forever.
I signed a one-year deal with the Lions in 2021, and we were both really excited for not only a fresh start, but to experience the four seasons. Lindsey was born and raised in Florida, so she had never experienced the beauty of fall or the cold of winter.
We tried to pack in as many activities as we could that first year in Detroit because we didn’t know where we were going to be after the year.
I remember taking Cooper to his first pumpkin patch at Three Cedar Farms and we underestimated the weather and were freezing because we didn’t dress appropriately. A few weeks later, even though he was only 10 months old, we took him trick-or-treating and all the colors of the trees were so vibrant and picturesque that it felt like a scene from a movie. When winter came around, we went sledding at the local park and experienced the tree-lighting ceremony in Downtown Birmingham.
He was just a baby, but those months were our first Thanksgiving with him. Our first Christmas with him. His first birthday. We wanted to make those memories special as a family.
I have a video of Cooper taking his first steps in our townhouse, and it was just me and Lindsey there. That’s it. We had to share our experiences with loved ones from afar, and they had to live through our videos and FaceTime. It’s not easy, but you make the best of it. Playing in the NFL requires sacrifice, and you’re not always able to have your parents, grandparents and friends there for those milestones.
Things were hard on the field, and I had never experienced losing to that degree. The year was mentally depleting, but you just try to put your best foot forward.
I had a sense Detroit wanted me back, I wanted to be back, and I signed a one-year contract to return to the Lions in 2022.
Lindsey and I were ready to try for another child, and we thought we timed it up perfectly for her to give birth the next offseason. When we found out she was pregnant in July of 2022, it would have lined up for an April delivery.
But our miscarriage set our lives on a different course.
When the doctors confirmed it in the office, we both cried, but I sobbed. It just hit me harder in that moment for some reason. On the drive home, I remember trying to speak, and I just broke down. I was really upset, and Lindsey was the rock for me early on.
Two days later, I had to report to training camp and try to stay focused for 12 hours a day, but of course you’re human and your thoughts wander. That camp had Hard Knocks, I had a new position coach, and there was just a lot of extra buzz at the facility. Lindsey is at home with Cooper all day, who’s 1.5-years old at the time, and seeing your child is actually a ‘slap-in-the-face’ reminder that his sibling is no longer on the way. We’re rooted in Florida, so our family and friends couldn’t be around us while we grieved. That adds to the difficulty of the situation.
I’d come home and we’d cry together almost every night.
When you and your wife go through a miscarriage, it weighs on you then, and honestly, it still weighs on us to this day. It’s still an emotional subject for us. You still live with that trauma.
But Lindsey has a mental toughness to her that allows her to get through anything she puts her mind to. She’d frequently remind me, ‘God’s not saying no. He’s just saying not right now.’
We had to keep moving forward.
You still live with that trauma.
I believe that hope can move mountains. For us, hope is created because we have faith in something bigger than ourselves. As humans, you never want to lose hope no matter what situation you’re in. It’s a necessity because there’s going to be suffering at some point in this life.
It’s hard to think about, but we’re all going to lose loved ones. We’re all going to die one day. Life is hard and there’s a lot of pain, but by having hope, you’re able to do things you didn’t think you’d be able to do. You can wake up the next day and keep going.
That’s really what allowed us to keep moving forward in our journey of having another baby.
After the miscarriage, we didn’t know when to try again. Doctors say different things, Google says different things, and you do go through thoughts like, ‘Was there anything we did wrong?’ Lindsey also had to physically heal, and there’s an emotional element to coming out of trauma.
We decided we weren’t going to plan it all out and line it up perfectly again. We were just going to live our lives and be thankful whenever she got pregnant again.
We were nervously excited to find out in early 2023 that Lindsey was expecting. We made it through the first trimester, then we exhaled a bit. It’s been a really smooth pregnancy.
Our first daughter is expected to arrive on November 30, 2023.
THE LONG ROAD
Lindsey’s made me a better person. She’s my accountability partner with football, but most importantly, with God. She stays on me to make sure I’m scheduling massages, rolling out and wearing my Normatec boots. She’s always asking me, ‘Did you go to chapel?’ She keeps me in check because it’s easy to get lost in this world of football. She’s the most selfless person I know, and I truly look up to her in so many ways.
Cooper will turn 3 years old in January, and he’s so loving and affectionate with his physical actions, and now with his words. He woke up feeling sick the other night, so we calmed him down and put him in the steam shower. He called me on my way to work the next morning, and he said, ‘Daddy, you helped me last night. I love you, Daddy.’ It’s the best feeling as a parent hearing that.
He’s going to be a great brother. He’s already hugging and kissing Lindsey’s belly and asking, ‘Mommy, can you push sister out yet?’ He even spilled the beans to our neighborhood that he’s getting a baby sister before we started telling anyone.
And I hope our daughter turns out to be just like Lindsey. She’s charismatic, she’s athletic, she’s social, she’s talkative, she’s fun-loving and she’s beautiful, inside and out. She took a leap of faith to move to New Orleans with me, and she’s been incredible through the ups and downs we’ve had since coming to the NFL.
Lindsey and I want to raise both of our children to keep God first, and we want them to know that just because their parents were pretty serious athletes doesn’t mean they have to be. They have no shoes to fill. Just be you. Their mom and dad will always be there for them unconditionally.
I had a sense Detroit wanted me back, I wanted to be back
The obvious decision is I’ll miss our game if Lindsey’s delivery is getting close to kickoff. After everything she’s been through for me, I need to be there for her. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Maybe the birth of our daughter will provide a little closure over the miscarriage. I don’t really know. We’re still going to be a family of four, it just took a little bit longer than we expected.
I know that the first time we see our daughter will be really overwhelming and emotional. The journey has been wild, it was intense, but we made it through. We got stronger because of it.
Holding our baby and looking Lindsey in her eyes after all we’ve been through to get to this point will be a moment that we will remember when we are old and grey.