Julian Blackmon is used to accomplishments on the field — interceptions, deflected passes, forced fumbles, etc. But since his daughter, Zella Love Blackmon, was born in April, the Colts safety added something else that makes him feel accomplished.
And that's getting his infant daughter to fall asleep.
"I think that's the best feeling in the world as a new parent is when you, as the father, the one who doesn't give her the breast milk, puts her to sleep. There's nothing like it," Blackmon said. "I'm like, oh my gosh, I'm a GOAT when I put my daughter to sleep. That's how I think. I'm like, I'm the greatest man alive when she goes to bed in my hands because that's the hardest thing to get her to do. It's just awesome. It makes me feel good about my day. It makes me feel like I'm a good parent."
Blackmon and wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr. are among a group of Colts players celebrating their first Father's Day as new dads in 2021. Pittman's daughter, Mila Joan, was born on May 27, and he's soaked in the experience ever since she joined the world.
"It's actually crazy because everybody told me about what it would feel like, and it's just so different than anything that I've ever felt before," Pittman said. "You really can't describe it. I'm constantly taking pictures and sending pictures to people — I've never been a big picture guy, and since she's been born, my whole camera roll is just her."
Pittman was used to being with little kids, since his sister has three boys, but said his experience has been new since he now has a child of his own.
"It's definitely challenging but it's the best thing I've ever done," Pittman said. "It's challenging because of the late nights and crying, and you just can't do the things you used to do. You gotta find new ways of doing things — like me and my wife usually don't eat that same time now because somebody's gotta be holding the baby or watching the baby or putting her to sleep or changing a diaper. So we usually eat at different times. We don't go out to restaurants much anymore. And stuff like that, you just have to adapt to them."
Blackmon said he's learned he's a lot more patient than he thought he could be while also emphasizing time management. But he had a similar experience plenty of first time, brand new dads have gone through, too.
"I think that first week for me was, I was like, holy s—t, what am I doing? I have no idea how to take care of this kid. She's crying, I don't know why she's crying, give her to mom," Blackmon said. "But I think now it's just funny to see the growth and how much you learn. It's very simple things — she needs her diaper changed. She doesn't like sitting in that poopy diaper. Who would? Sometimes she's fussy because she's tired and understanding you gotta put her to sleep, you gotta take time out of your day to figure out exactly what she needs because once you figure it out it's not really that hard."
And for both Blackmon and Pittman, they've found inspiration in being new dads. Pittman said he's playing for his daughter, who's added motivation for him to be the best player he can be.
Blackmon echoed that sentiment.
"You don't think that you have a second gear once you reach this level. And then all of a sudden you have a kid and then out of nowhere, your work ethic becomes even more a work ethic in a sense," Blackmon said. "For me, I was always playing to prove myself right or to prove others wrong. And then as soon as I had my kid, none of that stuff mattered. Now it's, I'm going to take care of her and I know how to and it's through football because God gave me this gift so I'm going to use it to take care of my kid. It brought in an extra motivation for me and I'm excited for what's to come."
As for how they'll spend their first Father's Day as dads, Blackmon and Pittman said it'll probably be pretty low-key. Their families might get together, or they might just stay in, order some takeout, watch TV and take care of their daughters.
Because there will be poopy diapers to change, naps to take on dad and time to be well spent with family, after all.