In the middle of about 16 hours of labor at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital on Sunday, Melissa and Robert Hazel were dealt a bit of a reprieve: The Titans were making their season debut, giving the couple something to watch on television.
“We’re big Titans fans,” Melissa said, “so it was nice to see them and have them there with us while we were doing all of this.”
On Tuesday, Melissa and Robert – and their two-day old daughter, Finley – got to thank some of the players they watched on TV just a couple of days earlier.
“Y’all helped us pass the time,” Melissa said.
The Titans, after all, played in the longest game since at least the NFL/AFL merger in their 7-hour, 8-minute marathon against the Dolphins that ballooned thanks to nearly four hours of weather delays Sunday in Miami.
“That’s how we planned it,” Titans cornerback Logan Ryan said with a smile. “We knew you had this long labor.”
Members of the Titans’ secondary visited patients at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital on Tuesday. Cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson, Malcolm Butler, LeShaun Sims and Kenneth Durden visited the Joint Replacement Institute on the eighth floor, while safeties Kenny Vaccaro, Kevin Byard, Brynden Trawick and Ryan swung by the Childbirth Center on the seventh floor.
The players signed autographs, posed for photos and handed out gifts.
“Thank you guys for taking the sacrifice for us,” Melissa said, laughing while referencing Sunday's 428-minute game, “because I was like, ‘We’ll just watch the Titans. It’ll be fine. We’ll just watch the game.’ So you guys helped with our birthing process.”
A short while earlier, the group visited Cary and Monica Hayes and their newborn, Benaiah, whom Byard held while posing for a photo.
"It was just beautiful just to be able to see two people coming together and having a child, expanding their family. It was great," Byard said.
It did not, however, give the newly married Byard any ideas of his own.
"Not yet," he said. "I actually just got married about a couple of months ago, so we’re still in that phase, man. I’m trying to hold out as long as I can because when they come, they come. So I’m just trying to enjoy the married life right now."
For Jackson, days like Tuesday help put his role into perspective.
"It’s just all about giving back," the second-year cornerback said. "To see them with smiles on their face means a lot."