Some NFL players are forced to make a difficult personal decision about attending the birth of their child if it coincides with a regular-season game.
Not Darryl Tapp.
The Philadelphia Eagles defensive end received the blessing of head coach Andy Reid to miss last Monday night’s 28-13 loss to New Orleans. Tapp instead stayed in the hospital with his wife Tiffany, a fitness instructor and competitive body-builder, as she gave birth to the couple’s first child, Taylor Nicole. Tapp will return to his rotational role as a backup end Sunday in the FOX America’s Game of the Week against the visiting Dallas Cowboys (4:25 p.m. ET).
In a question-and-answer session with FOXSports.com, Tapp talked about his decision to skip the Saints game, his family background and how he has forged a seven-year NFL career despite being one of the league’s shortest ends at 6-foot-1 and 270 pounds.
Q: How do you describe the whole situation leading into the birth of your daughter?
Tapp: It was unbelievable. It’s still setting in on me now to have a little daughter. I definitely have a new appreciation for all women. My wife is one of the strongest people I know after seeing that whole ordeal and everything she went through from the time her water broke until the time the kid came out (Tuesday). I didn’t sleep until she slept. We probably got three hours of sleep on Saturday and three hours of sleep on Sunday. I didn’t realize how exhausted I was until I got home (Tuesday night).
Q: How much did it mean that the Eagles showed support by allowing you to miss the Saints game?
Tapp: I already had high regards for coach (Andy) Reid and the organization itself, but this took it to a whole other level. I really appreciate him being supportive. It wasn’t even a question of, ‘Should I go or should I stay?’ When I went up there (to Reid’s office) and told him my wife’s water broke, he said, ‘See you later. You’ve got to go and handle that.’ Even though this team is my family, he said you’ve definitely got to take care of home. It was a big load off my shoulders.
Q: How did you meet your wife and is she still a better athlete than you?
Tapp: (Laughs) I met Tiffany at a church cookout when I played for Seattle. One of my friends was talking to a young lady. She said, ‘Bring one of your friends.’ I thought I was running interference for him, but they were setting us up the whole time.
Q: As you know, a lot of players you’ve had as teammates weren’t fortunate enough to come from a two-parent home like you did. How much do you think that upbringing has helped you and what advantages did that give you compared to others?
Tapp: That’s beyond a blessing to have two parents and two older brothers. We never wanted for anything. My parents always tried to put me in the right situation and brought me up with values and things so the outside world never got bigger than what it needed to be. I haven’t had any issues. They’ve always been supportive. I’ve had somebody in my family at my games home or away since middle school. It’s just a great feeling to have that. It’s unfortunate not everybody had the same situation.
Q: What jobs did your parents have?
Tapp: My dad worked for a men’s wear store for a long time as the general manager. My mom was a crossing guard for 30-some odd years. They really instilled education and taking care of family in me. Sports were an added bonus.
Q: How does a guy who is 6-foot-1 – maybe – survive in the NFL as a defensive end for seven years?
Tapp: Keep believing in yourself. There are a lot of circumstances you have to overcome to reach this point. I’m not the prototypical-sized end, but I did well in college when I got my opportunities. That led to me getting an opportunity in the NFL. I kept working at it and pushing. I’ve earned my opportunities and made the most of them when I got them.
Q: How much does the Eagles defense play to your strengths?
Tapp: This is great. It’s definitely tailored for an undersized end. I think maybe the only person on the cusp here is Vinny (Curry) because he’s 6-foot-3 and 270 (pounds). But as far as myself and Trent (Cole) and (Jason) Babin and Brandon Graham, we’d probably be linebackers in anybody else’s scheme. But they tailored this for quick, explosive guys.
Q: Finally, what’s your take on the season the Eagles are having at 3-5?
Tapp: It’s frustrating. Losing games is frustrating in itself, especially when you know you could have done a lot better and left plays on the field that you should have had. But Philadelphia is truly a one-of-a-kind place. They really live and breathe their sports teams. If we lose, the entire city is down and you definitely hear about it. But when you win, everybody is up and you hear about it as well. You’ve definitely got to be a strong, strong-minded player to play here (laughs).