CINCINNATI -- A.J. Green routinely makes great plays, but he seldom delivers memorable comments. We talk to A.J. a lot because of what he does. He'll always stand and answer questions at his locker, win or lose. He'll field questions until the last reporter is finished. But he only says what he has to say. He's a pleasant, smart and articulate guy, but my guess is that somebody in the media burned him sometime in the past. So he picks his words carefully. He doesn't open up very much.
That is, until Easton Ace Green came along. Sometimes all it takes is a little boy.
A.J. and his wife Miranda became parents on Wednesday. The 22-inch, 8 pound, 8 ounce Easton checked in shortly before five o'clock Wednesday.
By Thursday afternoon, A.J. was dragging a bit. "None" he replied when he was asked if he got any sleep. He admitted sneaking in a couple of hours, but had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to change a diaper.
Despite the little rest and the dirty work, A.J. never looked happier. In fact, I couldn't remember any Bengals victory when he looked so ecstatic.
"Unbelievable" is a word he used several times. "I can't even describe the feeling, awesome" is all he could manage.
This has happened before. We usually see these guys as athletic players, who do athletic things and talk athletic stuff. But they get giddy and tongue-tied when it comes to their kids. And proud. Ever want to get more than two words out of the often difficult Ken Griffey Jr.? Talk to him about his family.
I used to like when the Bengals trained in Wilmington, then Georgetown. There was usually a day in camp when the players got a break and their families visited. There were little boys and girls frolicking all over the football field and hanging around with their sweaty fathers. Little boys wearing oversized helmets; little girls completely draped in their dad's jersey. Often holding hands, or cradled in their arms.
And it's not just football. We now see NBA players bringing their children to post game news conferences. The Reds father-son-daughter game has been a favorite for years.
Let's admit it, it happens to all of us. Kids change our lives for the better. It takes us away from all of the stupid and unnecessary stuff that we thought was important for far too long. It's where the word perspective comes from. "This guy's depending on me. I have to show him the ropes," A.J. said.
The new arrival's name is Easton Ace, but he won't be known as E.A. Green. "Eazy" is what they'll call him -- but he was far from easy.
Labor took 36 hours for Miranda. "She's a trooper, a trooper" Green told reporters. "I have a whole new, different respect for women."
And he admitted he lost his focus. "I was trying to be as nice as I could and got yelled at a couple of times for falling asleep because she couldn't sleep."
While he nodded off, she went the distance. "She was much tougher than I was" admitted the Bengals All-Pro receiver.
It was just so out of character to see A.J. smiling so much, sharing so much, enjoying this new phase of his life. Miranda was been pregnant and preparing for parenthood for nine months, but it seems like becoming a parent just hit A.J. like a raging linebacker.
"How blessed we are to bring something like that to the world" he told us.
Of course, most of those reporters in attendance knew exactly how he felt. We've been there. We've felt that. But it's always fun to see these tough guys get reduced to mere mush when it comes to the birth of their kids.
Frankly, it was hard to even bring up the subject about the "big" upcoming game with the Broncos. A.J. just watched the miracle of life. How can a football game match that?
A.J. answered all the questions and then went back to work. But one of the last things he said was "I can't wait to get back home."
We knew how he felt.
You can contact Popo at JPopovich@wcpo.com or on Twitter, @Popo_WCPOSports