By Simon Evans
PHOENIX (Reuters) - Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is hopeful that his son will be born after Super Bowl Sunday but should an early arrival occur, coach Pete Carroll says he will leave it to the player to decide how he responds.
Sherman’s girlfriend Ashley is due to give birth sometime in early February and is in Phoenix for the game. That has raised questions over whether, if she went into labor on Sunday, Sherman would miss the game.
"That is up to Richard," Carroll said during his news conference on Friday.
"Whenever our players have a personal or family issue that comes up, it's always about family first, and they have to decide what's best for them, and I support that. We will support that decision," Carroll said.
Sherman is hoping that he does not have to make a choice between being present at the birth or playing in the NFL’s championship game.
"I think he's going to be a disciplined young man and stay in there until after the game," Sherman said on Thursday.
"He's going to do his father his first favor and stay in there for another week or two."
The outspoken 26-year-old said that even though a birth is not expected, a plan is in place but declined to give details.
"I'm focused on the game. He's not supposed to come on Sunday. If he does, that would change some things. I've thought about the possibility of his coming during the game or coming before the game.
"We have things in place in case that happens. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. But I didn't know it was a topic of national debate, honestly. I would not like to miss the birth of my first kid, but hopefully and God willing, we won't have to cross that bridge."
Sherman would not give any indication of his son’s likely name but Carroll joked that he had one in mind.
"I’m looking forward to seeing Little Petey," the coach said with a grin.
(Reporting By Simon Evans)