No greater love than changing diapers
Seattle Seahawks defensive end Red Bryant came up with a half-dozen crucial catches Monday afternoon.
No, he’s not getting a tryout at receiver, although he did show good hand-eye coordination with a pair of interceptions last season.
After the third day of training camp, Bryant stopped near the sideline to do the usual coochie-coos with his 7-month-old son, Joseph Brooks Bryant. And to the little one’s giggling delight, dad tossed him in the air and pulled him in each time with sure hands.
It must be said that hoisting Joseph Brooks Bryant also qualifies as weight training – he now weighs close to 20 pounds.
These after-practice family interludes have become part of Bryant’s regimen during training camp, and it’s a nice example of the tender, paternal side of one of the Seahawks’ largest (6-foot-4, 323 pounds) and most physical players.
“Oh, yeah, I’ve got good hands,” Bryant said. “He likes for me to chunk him up in the air like that.”
Bryant’s path with the Seahawks has been revisited often because he has transformed from backup defensive tackle to impressive run-stuffing end who helps instill an attitude of toughness on the defense.
The Seahawks rewarded his progress with a five-year, $35 million contract in the offseason. Coach Pete Carroll stressed how important it was to keep their own free agents in the fold, especially players such as Bryant, who are not only leaders, but shape the identity of the team with their aggressive play.
Especially with the new addition to the family, Bryant wanted to stay in Seattle because it feels like home. His wife, Janelle, was born in Kirkland, and is the daughter of Seahawks Ring of Honor defensive end Jacob Green.
“I didn’t really want to have to move to a new city and adapt and deal with all the things that go with that,” Bryant said. “We’ve got a great fan base here and my father-in-law played here, so it’s a dream come true.”
Both Bryant and his defensive line sidekick Brandon Mebane had a strong practice Monday, each coming up with nice penetration and big hits, along with the day’s big bopper, linebacker K.J. Wright.
The bruising play was an obvious counterpoint to Bryant’s cuddling with his baby boy.
“He’s always had a gentle, sweet spirit,” Janelle Bryant said of her husband. “But with the baby, it’s even more special. With the offseason, we were able to spend time with him and have fun together.”
Bryant said a few teammates have coached him on the art of being a father to a son.
“Oh, yeah, guys like Leon Washington, Mike Robinson, Brandon Browner … they all have sons and told me I need to enjoy every moment of it, and to be sure to set a great example for him the best I can,” he said “That was the most important thing.”
When asked for a comment on his father’s skills, Joseph Brooks Bryant reached for the tape recorder and notebook, and blew an impressive series of bubbles. Followed by a giggle. Hey, I’ve had less informative interviews on that sideline.
“He’s crawling … he flips over already … he’s really strong,” Red Bryant said. “He’s really a good boy.”
Granddad Jacob, meanwhile, calls and Skypes “more than anybody,” Janelle said.
“He’s a great grandfather and a great man,” Red Bryant said of his father-in-law.
Bryant cited his father’s influence, too, as a role model for parenting.
“Family is everything, because of my family, I was able to go through adversity, to keep my head held high; they’ve been with me through the good and the bad. My wife and I have been together for eight years, and married three now. She’s seen me at low points and at high points.”
Janelle said Joseph’s middle name “Brooks” was in honor of one of Red’s high-school teachers, Sue Brooks, who died of cancer three years ago.
Bryant said he can’t find the words to adequately express his gratitude for his family, his wife, his son, his profession. Yes, Red, but what about the diapers?
“Oh, he’s changed some diapers … maybe 20,” Janelle said.
“Yeah, not as many as my wife, but I have changed diapers,” Bryant said.
Gross, though, right?
“Oh, it is,” he said. “But that’s when you learn how much you really love somebody … when you change their diapers.”