Troy Niklas was under pressure when the Patriots invited him to visit Foxborough.
Not only was the tight end an unrestricted free agent hoping to impress a potential new team, but he was also on the verge of becoming a new father. Niklas’ wife, Chloe, was nine months pregnant when the Patriots called in early April to express their interest in arranging a visit, he told reporters Thursday.
The 25-year-old said he acknowledged the possibility that the couple “could have the baby any day now,” but he also didn’t want to pass up a trip to Gillette Stadium and the opportunity to meet with the Patriots. Niklas said his wife conceded and told him, “OK, just get up there and get back as soon as you can.”
Naturally, things got a little hectic.
Niklas said his agent called him Easter Sunday, April 1, to tell him the Patriots wanted him in Foxborough on Monday, April 2.
“So I flew out on Sunday,” he recalled. “I get in and then meet with all of the coaches. It was just awesome. They’re just on top of everything. You could tell that they’re really specific about everything, so I was really excited about that.”
Everything was going smoothly until he called his wife to check in after the visit. When he asked if she was alright, Chloe had some news: “We’re headed to the hospital. I think my water broke.”
Niklas said he considered taking an earlier flight out — since he “pretty much had met with everybody” — but found his original booking was the best option. He flew back to Phoenix and, much to his delight and wife’s relief, was able to make it to the hospital in time for the birth of his daughter, Romy, early Tuesday morning.
“It was the longest flight of my life,” said Niklas, who signed a one-year deal with the Patriots that Wednesday, April 4. “I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it back or not.”