BOSTON (CBS) — New Patriots tight end Troy Niklas certainly has an entertaining story to tell his newborn daughter when she gets older.
Niklas left Phoenix to come to New England for a free agent meeting on Easter Sunday (April 1), leaving his pregnant wife, Chloe, behind. He was hesitant to make the trip at first, but since she wasn’t due until April 5 he felt pretty confident that he would be able to meet with the Patriots on Monday and still get back home in time to see the birth of his first child.
His daughter had other plans, giving Niklas a “crazy story” he’ll be sharing for the rest of his life.
“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,” Niklas told reporters at Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “I did some other things and then driving back in a van I called her – called my wife – and was just like ‘You alright? I want to make sure everything’s good.’ She was like ‘Yeah, we’re headed to the hospital. I think my water broke.'”
At that point, Niklas knew he should probably get back to Phoenix as quickly as possible. He had already met with everyone he needed to meet with on the Patriots and began looking into earlier flights. Unfortunately for Niklas, there was nothing better available. Luckily, he still made it back home just in time to see his daughter, Romy, come into the world.
“It was the longest flight of my life. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it back or not,” he told reporters. “I flew back, made it back to the hospital, was able to get a little cat nap in before the whole process started at the hospital, and then early Tuesday morning we had my baby daughter. So, a crazy turn of events.”
Shortly after Romy was born, Niklas signed his contract with the Patriots. He knew early into his visit that New England was the place for him.
“Pretty much when I got here I had gone around and pretty much knew instantly that this is the place I wanted to be. I just really loved the culture and everything about this place, and so it really wasn’t a question going back,” he said. “I was telling my wife before I flew back ‘Hey, I think this is the place for me,’ and she was like ‘OK, great. Just get back.’ So on Tuesday morning I signed everything and sent it back. It was pretty quick.”
Now that the Patriots voluntary offseason program is underway, the whole Niklas family is getting settled in to their new home in New England. Romy was even OK with the cross-country flight.
“They flew out with me Saturday, only 10 days after she was born, but didn’t make a peep on the flight,” he said. “She’s been a good baby.”
Niklas, a 2014 second-round pick out of Notre Dame, spent his first four NFL seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, hauling in 19 receptions and three touchdowns over 41 games. He’s eager to get to work with Tom Brady and learn from Rob Gronkowski, saying that blocking is his forte on the field.
“It’s been awesome. Everyone’s a hard worker and we’re just getting after it, so I’m excited about that,” he said. “Everyone is very dedicated. They’re hard-working and they put the team first. It reminds me a lot of the time I spent at Notre Dame. There’s some similar contrast with the type of people that are around here and that’s what I was most excited about from my visit.”
As for the crummy New England weather, Niklas doesn’t seem to mind. Spending three years in South Bend has prepared him for what’s to come.
“It’s kind of going to be weird for me to say this because I have been living in Arizona and it’s just perfect every day almost, so it’s kind of nice to get some clouds and some rain for once,” he joked.