Tight end Niklas couldn't wait to sign with N.E.

Tight end Niklas couldn't wait to sign with N.E.

FOXBORO — Tory Niklas wanted to be on the Patriots so bad that he almost missed the birth of his first child. In the end, it all worked out but it was a close call for the team’s newest tight end.

An unrestricted free agent, Niklas received a call from his agent on March 31. The Patriots were interested and wanted him to come up to Foxboro to visit the stadium and meet with the coaches. At first, Niklas was stoked. All the way back to 2014, before he was drafted by Arizona, the Pats had been his first choice.

The only issue this year was that his wife, Chloe, was nine-months pregnant with their first child. Her due date was that week, on April 5. The team wanted him to visit on April 2.

“We could have the baby any day now. So I told my wife, ‘I’d really like to go up there and it’s a team I’d love to play for,’ ” Niklas said. “She’s like, ‘OK, get up there and get back as soon as you can.’ So Sunday, I get the call from my agent, ‘Yes, they want you up on Monday.’ So, I fly out on Sunday, which is Easter, get in and meet with all the coaches, which was just awesome. They’re just on top of everything. You can tell that they’re really specific about everything. Really excited about that.”

After the visit, Niklas was in a van going back to the hotel when he called Chloe to check on her. He thought everything was going smoothly, until he heard his wife speak.

“She’s like, ‘Yeah, we’re headed to the hospital. I think my water broke.’ “

Every scenario ran through Niklas’ head. He thought about trying to switch his flight but instead kept the original departure date on that day, April 2. To make matters more stressful, this was a long flight from Boston to Phoenix.

“It was the longest flight of my life,” he said. “Not sure if I was going to make it back or not.”

As soon as the flight touched down in Arizona, Niklas raced to the hospital and his wife still hadn’t had the baby. He was even able to get a catnap to catch up on some sleep that night. Then on Tuesday morning, April 3, Chloe gave birth to their daughter, Romy Niklas — two days before her due date.

As fate would have it, Niklas signed his one-year contract with the Patriots on the same day. The 25-year-old calls it a “crazy turn of events.”

“So, pretty much when I got here, I had gone around and pretty much knew instantly that this was the place I want to be,” Niklas said. “Just really loved the culture and everything about this place. It really wasn’t a question going back. Just telling my wife before I flew back, ‘Hey, I think this is the place for me. She’s like, ‘OK, great. Just get back.’ On Tuesday morning, we signed everything and just sent it back. It was pretty quick.”

Back in Foxboro, Niklas is still settling in. He, his wife and daughter all flew to Boston together last Saturday. With the start of the offseason workout program, the tight end didn’t want to miss a thing.

It’s a good thing for him he hasn’t.

Published at Fri, 20 Apr 2018 01:29:59 +0000