GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless revealed Monday he missed the first two days of training camp because his daughter died at birth last week.
Quarless had initially been excused from the first practice of camp on Thursday for what coach Mike McCarthy termed "a positive personal situation." The coach’s tone changed ominously the following day when Quarless was again absent, saying the sixth-year tight end was dealing with "a very difficult family situation."
On Monday, after fully participating in his first practice of camp, Quarless shared the devastating news and acknowledged that returning to football had been something of a safe haven.
Quarless had taken part on a limited basis in Saturday’s practice before players had Sunday off. He struggled at times to keep his emotions in check as he spoke Monday after several family members, including his 5-year-old son, watched practice.
"It’s the saddest day of my life," Quarless said. "I thank this team for the type of support they have given me to help me get through this. Just very thankful for these guys. It’s really a family in here.
"I (was) looking forward my first day getting back out there today. It felt real good. It felt real good just to get out there, catch some passes, be able to run around a little bit, kind of get back to your old self and get back into things.
"The most important thing was my son was able to come out there. He was really looking forward to being a big brother," Quarless said. "Today was rough. I’m a little drained. I was drained the past couple of days. … being around my teammates having fun and actually smile, actually to smile and be happy, that was good for me."
Quarless had been looking forward to his daughter’s birth, especially in the wake of his July 4 arrest in Miami Beach, Florida, on a misdemeanor gun charge. He allegedly fired two shots into the air after an argument with a group of women, according to police. He pleaded no contest last month and is due in court on Aug. 24.
Quarless faces a possible suspension under the NFL personal conduct policy, although it’s unclear when such a decision would be made. Defensive lineman Letroy Guion was arrested on drug and gun charges in February and reportedly learned last month that he’d be receiving a three-game suspension, although he is appealing.
Asked how his conversation went with McCarthy after his arrest, Quarless replied, "He was very upset. Very upset. I just apologized to him for bringing negativity to this place. We have a great group of character guys. There’s just so much character in this locker room. I just apologized for bringing negative because you never want to bring negative to something like this."
Quarless said McCarthy then told him to "just focus, don’t be too hard on yourself" and to learn from his mistake.
"Life is serious. I’m a role model to a lot of kids," Quarless said. "You can’t take things for granted and I don’t take this organization for granted and I don’t take my position for granted. I’m just really, really thankful. That’s the main word I can really use is thankful for this group of guys.
"My whole mindset about life has kind of changed a lot. With my daughter, I promise you, I was looking (to find) a little bit of happiness in my daughter. You just can’t take life for granted."