The Green Bay Packers Score a Touchdown for Expectant Dad/Punter JK Scott!

I am cursed to be a fan of the miserable New York Jets. However, my new (temporary) favorite team is the now the Green Bay Packers. The Packers showed incredible support for punter JK Scott as he awaited the birth of his child.

Packers punter JK Scott was supported by his team (photo: Keith Allison, flickr used with permission)
Packers punter JK Scott was supported by his team (photo: Keith Allison, flickr used with permission)

According to Sports Illustrated, the Packers punter and his wife, Sydney, are expecting  a baby any day now. This proved worrisome when Scott traveled to Foxborough last weekend for a Sunday Night Football matchup with the (hated) Patriots. But Green Bay put a plan in place to make sure Scott could be back in Wisconsin if Sydney went into labor.

  • First, the Packers had a plane fueled up and waiting at a nearby airport, ready to fly Scott back to the Midwest if he got the phone call he was waiting for.
  • And if that call did come, the team even had a backup plan at punter- they signed a backup on Friday, just in case (it helped that they had an open roster spot after two recent trades).

“It was awesome,” Scott told the team site. “[General manager] Brian Gutekunst, he pulled me aside and was talking to me, and really caring about me with this baby and my wife. It was cool they would do that for me. Everything was ready for me if the baby came.”
As it happened, Sydney did not go into labor on Sunday,so the pane stayed on the runway. The couple plans to induce labor sometime this week. Scott will be punting next week against the (hated) Dolphins- happier but with less sleep than usual.

We here at Fathers, Work and Family wish Scott’s family the best, and appreciate what the Packers did for him, and, in a small way, for all working dads.

Here’s what the Packers did right:

  • They talked with their employee and put a plan in place
  • They showed their commitment to fatherhood not just in words, but also by their actions
  • They worked out a solution that worked for everyone involved

Not every employer has the resources to keep a private plane at the ready, but all employers could talk to their expectant dad employees, demonstrate respect for fatherhood, and work towards a solution that works for everyone.

I have been fortunate to work with expectant dads and their managers at a leading tech company so that dads can transition to and from parental leave in a way that works for dads, managers, customers and teammates. I wish more employers had this orientation.

This story is also another indicator that, in some ways, even the hyper-competitive world of professional sports is ahead of the culture when it comes to supporting fathers. Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Basketball Association and their teams have supported their athlete-dads, even in the face of unfair criticism. Pro athletes in baseball, football, basketball and golf have grappled with these issues, demonstrating their priorities and a nuanced view of the trade-offs involved.

Stories like the Green Bay Packers support of JK Scott as a man, a father and a valued employee have made a fan out of me.

What do you think of the the Green Bay Packers support of their punter/dad? Have any personal experiences to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.

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