By John Ingoldsby, Player Engagement Insider
Football has forever helped forge a foundation for fatherhood, as we heard time and again from the game’s newest immortals over the weekend at the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction in Canton, Ohio.
There’s simply something special that the game seems to create, as displayed with a Hall-of-Fame level commitment from one Tampa Bay Buccaneer. So dedicated, in fact that defensive tackle Clinton McDonald took the time during a valuable training camp break in the Florida heat and humidity to discuss how important fatherhood is to him.
“We must examine what we want our children to be, and then become the best men and examples we can be,” said the father of three daughters ages 10, two, and eight months. “My father was my superhero, and I try to emulate his mental and physical toughness every day so, I see him in me constantly and hope someday my children think of me the same way.”
Safe to say they will since this NFL Ambassador for Fatherhood is an eight-year veteran who won a Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks in 2014, and is now entering his fourth year of bringing that championship timber to the up-and-coming Bucs.
In the same way that Tampa Bay is picking up his winning ways, McDonald hopes his daughters do likewise.
“I don’t take what I do as a parent for granted, and since my girls have obviously gotten their smarts from my wife, we try to make sure they pick up other important traits and skills since they observe us constantly and seem to pick up much of what we do, so we see a lot of us in our kids, which is mind-blowing,” said the four-year man from the University of Memphis.
“It’s a humbling responsibility to try to have all the answers since our kids ask smart questions, and I am blessed as their father to try and connect with our girls as my parents did with me and my five siblings,” said the native of Jacksonville, Arkansas.
“Some of the ways we connect are to go to the park together, go out for family dinners, teaming up for meals since our 10-year-old likes to help in the kitchen, and lifting the 10-pound kettle ball since that is what our two-year-old is into these days,” said the 30-year-old McDonald.
“With our baby, we love spending any time with her since she seems to light up and start smiling when she sees me and/or hears my voice, which currently during training camp is often through Skype,” said the 6’2” 297-pounder.
But learning cuts both ways as all parents come to understand.
“What surprised me most about being a dad was the importance of patience, which is more than what I thought it would be,” McDonald said. “Just like farming, the responsibility is on our shoulders to plant, till and water the crops to ensure they grow and reach their full potential, but it goes fast and it seems like there is a short window to teach our kids.”
Faster than the blink of an eye as most every parent says, but an institution that provides perspective like nothing else in life.
“The advice I would give any new father would be to examine what you would hope your child will be, and then be the best man you can possibly be to make that happen,” imparted McDonald, adding that his favorite TV dad was Ray Romano in “Everybody Loves Raymond,” and its strategic approach to raising children.
Those tactics are also honed on a practical basis by McDonald’s involvement in “All Pro Dad,” an organization on a mission to help current and former NFL players love and lead their families well by being a hero to their kids.
Featuring the involvement of legends like NFL Executive Vice President of Operations Troy Vincent, a former Pro Bowl cornerback, and Super Bowl-winning head coachTony Dungy, McDonald said what the organization means to him is, “taking men and expanding upon fatherhood, particularly by knowing how valuable it is to give time to their children.”
A devotion that the 2009 seventh-round pick who has played in 65 regular-season and five postseason games has committed to with his Hall-of-Fame level fervor.
John Ingoldsby is the President and Founder of IIR Sports, Inc., a sports media firm based in Boston. He has covered the NFL throughout his career that began as a newspaper reporter/editor, which includes articles in Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine (NFL Player Engagement), London-based Financial Times newspaper (NFL's international strategy), the Philadelphia Daily News (annual NFC Coaches Breakfast) and the Boston Globe (Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll).