Kevin Byard and his wife, Clarke, recently experienced something that many couples who have newborns would consider non-traditional.
It was not according to the game plan, but the Byards delivered Kevin Leon Byard IV at their home on August 23. It will not count to his interception total, but the Tennessee Titans Pro Bowl safety made what he can consider the biggest catch of his life, when his hands brought the child into this world.
Byard told the exhilarating story during a virtual press conference with media on Wednesday.
“It’s one of those deals where we couldn’t make it to the hospital,” he said. “My wife was having pretty bad contractions. I actually feel asleep because they ended up subsiding and I thought the baby was going to come the next day.”
But then things changed.
“She woke me up at about 10:30 having contractions. She was on the bathroom floor, so I kind of got up … not really panicking but scrambling to get some clothes on, helping her trying to get dressed. Her mom was downstairs so I called her upstairs to help us out. I went downstairs to get the car ready and then went back upstairs. She was on her feet moving around but she was having pretty bad contractions.
“I called the doula [healthcare professional] and quickly called her back to tell her to meet us at the house. Now I am really starting to scramble a little bit. I went back downstairs for something and when I went back upstairs, she was back on the floor … she was on her hands and knees still having contractions.
“I got the doula on the speaker phone and she asked my wife how she was feeling. She said, ‘I can’t really move, I feel like the baby is about to come.’ The doula said, “Let’s try to get her in the bathtub.’
“So I am like, ‘OK, well let’s try to get her on her feet.’ So I tried to check back there … I kind of pulled her pants down a little bit to see what’s going on and the head was already poking out. So, at this point I am back there, “Oh man the head the head is poking out.’ The doula told her to start breathing, relax and to start pushing.
“She’s on her hands and knees so the baby, when the head started to come out, his face was pulling upward so I could see it was real purple. I was kind of nervous about that. The doula told me to support his head and check for the umbilical cord to see if it was wrapped around his neck. Thank god it wasn’t.
“She started pushing and about 10-15 minutes later, once she got his head out and his shoulders, everything kind of slipped out. I caught him in my arms and waited about five seconds. He coughed about two times and started crying. I laid my wife down on her back. We did skin-to-skin. We waited for the ambulance and the doula to arrive .. we got the placenta out, cut the umbilical cord and went to the hospital.”
The son is the couple’s second child and his birthday is one day after his older sister’s. Byard will be able to tell both of his children many stories about his successes as a football player.
A third-round selection by the Titans in 2016 out of Middle Tennessee State, Byard made the Pro Bowl and took home All-Pro honors in just his second NFL season (2017). He has been a team captain twice (2019, present) and leads all NFL safeties with 17 interceptions since the 2017 season.
But no success story will be more compelling than this one.
“That was probably the most memorable thing me and my wife have ever been through in our relationship other than obviously getting married,” he said. “That’s a story I will be able to tell my son for the rest of our days.”