Brendon Ayanbadejo: 'Did Saban ship me off because I put family before football?'

Ronald Martinez

Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo was traded to the Chicago Bears just before the 2005 season. He wondered at the time - and still does - if he was traded because he missed practices due to the birth of his child.

There is a lot of talk around the sports world concerning the New York Mets' Daniel Murphy, who is taking the collective bargaining agreement authorized three days of paternity leave. Radio shows in New York have blasted Murphy for missing the team's first two games of the year, including former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason blaming Murphy for not having his wife schedule a cesarean section prior to the start of the season (he later apologized) and Craig Carton declaring that Murphy's "not breastfeeding the kid." Esiason ended the segment by telling Murphy he needs to "get your ass back to work."

Did the team question my desire to be a Dolphin because of my life priorities?

Forget the fact that Murphy played 161 games out of the Mets' 162 game schedule last year. Forget that this is the birth of his child. Forget that these are game in April for a league that plays until October. Murphy is apparently the worst baseball player ever for not having dedication to his team over his dedication to his wife and child.

While this situation is currently centered on Major League Baseball, it's not an uncommon concern in the other sports. Former NFL linebacker Branden Ayanbadejo wrote an article for FoxSports.com today, pointing to a similar experience during his playing days.

Ayanbadejo was undrafted out of UCLA in 1999, spending brief stints on practice squads and in training camp with the Atlanta Falcons and Chicago Bears before bouncing between the Canadian Football League and NFL-Europe. In 2003, he landed with the Miami Dolphins, where he appeared in all 32 games in two seasons, starting two, and recording 57 tackles and an interception. Heading into the 2005 season, Ayabadejo was excited about the impending arrival of his first child.

While in training camp with the Miami Dolphins and anticipating her birth, I, along with the rest of my family, was on high alert the days before our daughter arrived. Dutifully, I let Nick Saban, my coach at the time, know we were expecting.

Saban apparently did not feel the same sense of excitement as his player.

He made it clear that he expected me to be around and not miss any practice for this special moment for my family. I made it clear that I was going to miss as much time as it took for me to be there in support of my wife and my newborn child.

As Dolphins fans, hearing stories about the apparent lack of caring from Saban is not something new. A few years ago, we discussed a story in which Saban may have ignored a convulsing Jeno James in order to "collect my thoughts and decide what's best for the team." There are, of course, multiple sides to that story, with Yeremiah Bell explaining that it was not exactly has the "stepping over" James sounded, saying, "He had abdominal cramps, full-body cramps. I think it was a lot worse than what Coach Saban knew."

He made it clear that he expected me to be around and not miss any practice

In the Ayanbadejo story, the linebacker explains that he missed one full day, and a total of about 36 hours. He would show up late to practice, and leave as soon as it was over, but he was balancing family and football, while his wife was bedridden.

His daughter was born on August 23, 2005. Five days later, his phone began ringing with a Lake Forest, Illinois phone number - he had been traded to the Chicago Bears.

After leaving the Dolphins, Ayandadejo would spend three seasons with the Bears, earning two Pro Bowl selections. He then spend the 2008 to 2012 seasons with the Baltimore Ravens, picking up another Pro Bowl nod. He was twice selected as a Second Team All Pro, and has a Super Bowl ring from the 2012 Ravens season. As he writes, "Did Saban ship me off because I put my family before football? Did the team question my desire to be a Dolphin because of my life priorities?"

There's obviously no way to know for sure why the Dolphins traded him. Perhaps the timing was simply coincidental. But, at least for Ayanbadejo, the way Saban and the Dolphins treated him, it makes it very possible his putting the well-being of his wife and daughter ahead of training camp practices led to his being forced out of town.

It's really a well written article, and I recommend you check it out.

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