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The Caw: Ravens' Strange Penchant For Gameday Babies


What's in the water at the Under Armour Performance Center?

It seems the Ravens have a strange penchant for having babies on gamedays.

This past Sunday, nine hours before the Ravens kicked off against the Cincinnati Bengals, punter Sam Koch became a father to his first daughter, Gianna.

It's the third baby born on a gameday for players in the Ravens locker room.

Joe Flacco's second son, Daniel, was born just before the quarterback took on the Browns on Sept. 15. Three years ago, Ed Dickson became a first-time father hours before playing his first career game in MetLife Stadium. Oh, and Daryl Smith had a little girl on Sept. 23, in the wee hours the morning after playing the Texans.

It must be good luck or something because the Ravens won every one of those games.

"It seems like our team has the most gameday babies in history," Dickson said with a laugh.

Here's what happened with the latest baby:

Koch was at the team hotel when his wife, Nikki, went into labor. His phone must have been on silent, and she couldn't reach him. A neighbor took her to a Carroll County Hospital and she eventually got in touch with Lauren Cox, wife of long snapper Morgan Cox, who is Koch's roommate before games.

Lauren called Ravens Director of Security Darren Sanders, who woke up Koch and sent him on a dash to the hospital. Koch arrived at around 1:15 a.m. and Gianna was born about an hour later. Koch got back to the team hotel at about 3:45 a.m.

"Went to bed, woke up and played the game," Koch said. "I think I was mainly running off adrenaline, excitement. To be able to go out there and win and stuff, it was an overall good day."

Flacco also found out that everything went just fine with Daniel's birth just before kickoff of the Browns game. It was a huge relief for Flacco, who was more fidgety than his usual calm self.

Dickson recalls having a tough decision. He was in New York when his son, Trey (pictured above), started to come, and decided to stay for the game. Turns out, Trey came so fast that Dickson wouldn't have been able to make it in time anyway. Dickson's mother-in-law stood in the father's place for the birth.

"I didn't feel bad because she wasn't by herself. I did feel bad, but I didn't feel that bad," Dickson recalls. "I was a first-time father, first game in the NFL. My emotions were all over the place."

Players generally try to plan their pregnancies for the offseason so there are no conflicts with games. But as we all know, this sort of thing isn't clockwork.

When you're in the high-stakes NFL, it's tough to choose between football and fatherhood. Under Head Coach John Harbaugh, who has always fostered a family-like atmosphere, players are free to tend to their loved ones first and foremost.

Luckily, the players' loved ones understand it's part of the business of pro football. But it's not always an easy call.

"Nikki was very supportive. In situations where she had to go to the hospital, she said, 'Just do your thing. Focus on the season,'" Koch said.

"There are so many people that count on you. If you work any other job, there's usually somebody that can fill in for you. That's the only downfall to [playing in the NFL]. You've got to still go do your job. That's not a bad tradeoff at all."

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