To Houston Oilers’ starting right tackle David Williams, birth is no time for playing games. Williams skipped his team’s 28–14 away game win over the New England Patriots in October and remained home with his wife, who had just given birth to their first child.

The Oilers management was not amused and docked Williams’s pay $111,111. Offensive line coach Bob Young compared Williams’s action to a soldier deserting his comrades in wartime. “I don’t regret what I’ve done,” said Williams, noting that his wife had a miscarriage last year. “My family comes first.”

The playing field is not a war zone, even for those who roam it professionally. When even one pro football player puts family before football, he puts many of us Sunday afternoon armchair quarterbacks to shame. Williams made a wise choice despite its financial consequences. He realized that tiny infants rapidly grow into boisterous children, and for that process, there is no instant replay.

By John W. Kennedy.

Essay

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