It was an unusual offseason for just about any NFL player this spring and summer. Free agency was crammed in with far less preparation on the practice field, new surroundings and new teammates for a lot of the players, especially the rookies who also had to get their contracts negotiated in short order. For one of Buffalo's draft choices he had the added stress of a baby being due very, very soon.
The week that NFL players could report to work was the same week Bills fifth-round pick Johnny White's girlfriend Margaret Batts was due with their first child. White reported to One Bills Drive to get his playbook the Tuesday before training camp and meet with coaches while his agent negotiated his rookie contract with Buffalo.
By the end of the week White's contract was just about finished. The only problem was so was his girlfriend's pregnancy. On Friday morning White got the call from back in Asheville, North Carolina.
"She called me that morning and said she was on the way to the hospital," said White. "So I called the Bills and said she was going into labor and I needed to get a flight out. So that morning I had a flight scheduled for 11 am so they came and got me from the hotel and I'm getting text messages from everybody about her being at the hospital. It was just a big scramble."
White had yet to sign his contract and it was report day for training camp at St. John Fisher. The rookie running back was forced to multi-task.
"I was in the car on my way to the airport and we had the contract in the car," he said. "We pulled over and I talked to my agent on the phone and made sure everything was good with it and signed it in the car on the way to the airport."
So while his Bills teammates were reporting to training camp, White was on a flight back to North Carolina to see his first child, a son he and Margaret named Caison.
"I actually did miss the birth," White said a little disappointed. "But I got there and got to spend some quality time with my newborn son."
The whirlwind however, was far from over. White stayed up all night with his boy while Margaret got some well deserved rest and the next morning he was headed on a flight out to Rochester to report to training camp.
"Basically that night I didn't get any sleep," he said. "I stayed up with him all night and my flight was out at 6 o'clock the next morning. So I really didn't get any sleep, just got on the plane, tried to sleep a little on the plane, got to camp and was out on the field for practice."
Another rookie experienced a similar situation last summer. Wide receiver Donald Jones had to miss a few days of camp for the birth of his first son back in New Jersey last Aug. 24th. Being an undrafted rookie free agent every rep in practice was precious to ensure making the roster, but Jones missed a couple of days to be with his first child and then turn around and be ready for a preseason game that weekend against Cincinnati.
White keeps in touch with his new family back home as much as he can between practices, meals and meetings at camp.
"We're doing video chats and skyping at night when I have a little down time to see what he's doing," White said. "And I get pictures every day. It's great."
So although White has a lot on his plate at training camp, he wouldn't trade the added responsibility of a newborn son for anything.
"It was a lot to take in in one summer," he said. "It was easily the most eventful summer of my life in terms of the pregnancy and the lockout situation, but it all worked out for the best and I'm happy with it."