Former TCU and current Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and his wife may not know from experience the trials of raising a child with a physical disability, but as young parents themselves, they certainly know that all parents can use a night off every now and then.
The Andy & Jordan Dalton Foundation, which does most of its work in the Cincinnati area, brought its “Date Night” event to Fort Worth Wednesday, giving parents of physically challenged children in the area a catered meal at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel while Jordan, Andy and the Giggles Therapy Autism Treatment Center took over on the childcare front.
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Dalton, though rarely the subject of hype, graduated from TCU as the career leader in wins (42), passing yards (10,314), pass completions (812), pass attempts (1,317) and completion percentage (61.6). Most of those records now belong to the more recently outgoing Trevone Boykin, who is trying to find a spot as an undrafted free agent rookie on with the Seattle Seahawks roster.
Dalton, meanwhile, was putting together what had the feeling of was having the best season in his six-year NFL career in 2015 until he suffered a season-ending thumb injury on this right (throwing) hand late in the regular season. That forced the Katy native to miss the Bengals’ last three regular-season games and playoffs. He was back and a healthy participant during Bengals’ organized team activities in May and June and expects even more from himself entering his seventh season.
You’re coming off a year that had the feel of the best season of your career. Do you have a couple more in your back pocket?
It was a good year for me with an unfortunate ending to it. ... I’m ready to start back where I left off and get the season going. I’m excited about the year, excited about what we’ve got and really looking forward to it.
How comfortable is having Ken Zampese take over as offensive coordinator after Hue Jackson left to take the Cleveland Browns head coaching job?
He’s been my quarterback coach ever since I’ve been in Cincinnati so I think the transition has been smooth. I understand how he works, I understand expectations and all the different things just because we’ve been together going on six years now.
What chance do you give LaDainian Tomlinson of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility next year?
He should be in. I think it’s a no-brainer. For a guy like him who has set college football records and done all that he has, he’s just a great running back. I don’t think he has anything to be worried about.
After losing Marvin Jones and Mohammed Sanu this off-season, how comforting is it still to have A.J. Green to steady the group?
We have a great relationship on and off the field so even though we lost a couple guys, you’ve got one of the best receivers in the game to mentor the young ones. It makes that transition a little bit easier.
Do you marvel at what’s been built at TCU since you left?
It’s been awesome. It’s been so much fun to watch and see the success they’ve had since we’ve left. Obviously with all the facilities: the football stadium looks awesome, they just redid the basketball stadium and now we’ve got some of the best facilities in the country. It’s fun to see the success TCU has had in a lot of sports, too.
Can you wrap your head around TCU being the hunted in the Big 12 Conference?
It’s one of those things where when I was in school we always wanted to be in the Big 12. We didn’t have that opportunity, but since we’ve gotten the opportunity, we’ve been at or near the top. Coach Patterson has done such a great job in recruiting and getting guys in here that buy into his program, and it’s become the expectation to win championships and to be the best you can be. It doesn’t surprise me that we’re on top of the Big 12.
You must take pride in having helped lay that foundation.
We were part of something special, especially that Rose Bowl year. We take a lot of pride in that game and what we were able to accomplish that year. When you have a year like that you want to see the guys behind you have a lot of success and they’ve done that.
How rewarding are events like these where you give these parents of disabled children a night off?
It’s been cool to see the great feedback since we started doing it. We’ve done it in Cincinnati and now we’re bringing it down here. I know how time-consuming things can be for these parents and so we’re trying to give them some time to themselves where they can just focus on each other and enjoy a night without having to worry about the kids.
How much has becoming a father in 2014 given you perspective on things like this?
It definitely changes things. You realize you’ll do anything for your child. We may not understand everybody’s individual situation and the circumstances they go through on a daily basis but we’re just trying to give them an opportunity to get away and relax while the kids have a little fun, because we do know how hectic things can be as parents.