FOXBORO, Mass. — He hopes it doesn’t come to this, but Hunter Henry is prepared to skip a game during the New England Patriots’ playoff push if need be.
Henry’s wife, Parker, is pregnant with the couple’s first child and due in late December. The veteran tight end said Wednesday that if the baby happens to come on a Patriots game day, he’ll skip the game to be at the birth.
“That’s a tough conversation, but this is my first, man,” Henry said. “If it had to be a game or seeing my firstborn born, I’m going to go see my child be born. We’re going to do our best to not have that come across. The biggest issue is when the game starts, and then if she goes into labor during the game. That’s where the issue kind of lies.
“But we’re ready, and we have a lot of backup plans to be ready to go.”
Henry wouldn’t be the first Patriots player to sit out a game for this reason. Running back James White and linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Shilique Calhoun all did so during the first month of the 2019 season.
Earlier this season, Indianapolis quarterback Carson Wentz made headlines when he announced he would not attend the birth of his second child if it coincided with a Colts game. His daughter wound up being born on a non-gameday.
“I don’t think that?s ever been an issue,” head coach Bill Belichick said in September 2019. “I’ve always talked about it with the player. It’s not like it’s a surprise. It’s something that there’s certainly a lead-up period to. (We) communicate about it, and depending on the time, the situation, the circumstances and all that, you take everything into consideration. Everybody wants to do what?s best, and we arrive at that conclusion.”
Henry and his wife are crossing their fingers for a bye-week birth. The AFC East-leading Patriots will visit the Buffalo Bills next Monday night, then have their bye before closing out the regular season with games against the Colts (road), Bills (home), Jacksonville Jaguars (home) and Miami Dolphins (road).
“It’s kind of getting to crunch time,” said Henry, who leads the Patriots with seven touchdown catches this season. “The baby could come at any time. The due date’s the end of this month, but we’re kind of in that window now. … It’s coming soon, so we’ll see.”