In a normal year, Kellen Clemens says, "Father's Day has a little extra to it." And on Sunday, when dads all around our great country will get some extra love, the day has ramped up even more for the Clemens family.
That's because Kellen and his wife, Nicole, recently became parents for the second time. We reported how the fourth-year quarterback sprinted off the practice field at the end of the May 28 OTA practice to be with Nicole when she gave birth to their first son, Grant.
""I came off after what was really my last rep," Clemens recalled for newyorkjets.com, "and Schotty [coordinator Brian Schottenheimer] called me over, which he generally doesn't do, so I was kind of like this is going to be really good or really bad. He says, 'Hey, nice job,' he gave me a handshake, then he says, 'Your wife's in labor. Go ahead, get outta here.' "
It was a long labor, more than a day, but everything turned out fine with the arrival of the new signalcaller in the family.
As Clemens said, it was noteworthy that he had a son to carry on the family name — "I'm the only boy and I've got four sisters, so that was neat," he said. But what was of primary importance was to have a second healthy baby to go along with their 15-month-old daughter.
Kellen beams when he talks about Kate.
"Every day she's learning something new," he said. "She's learning to jump now, she's saying please and thank you, she says her prayers before meals — at least she folds her hands and bows her head, which is really cute.
"When I come home from a practice or a workout and I walk through that door and she throws her hands up and comes running to me, there's no better feeling in the world. Ahh, it melts your heart. And she doesn't care if I threw five touchdowns or three picks. She doesn't care one bit."
So that is the looking-ahead part for Clemens this weekend. But Father's Day is also about looking back, about honoring the father of the father. And for Clemens, that's a little different than for most dads because he never knew his biological father.
"He was killed. I was six months old to the day when he passed away," Clemens said. "He was a millwright, a repairman, I guess. He was working at a lumber mill."
Kellen's father's name was Vernon Vincent. Two years later, his mother, Vicky, remarried, and John Clemens became the father in the family. He's the only father that Kellen remembers.
So this weekend, Kellen will do the usual. He'll say a special prayer at Mass for Vernon. And he overnighted a Father's Day card to John. Plus — and don't tell John about this — he's planning on getting something for his family's homestead.
"That refers to the Homestead Act of 1860," said Clemens, switching to his historian's hat. "My great-grandpa homesteaded 160 acres in Burns, Ore., back in the early 1930s. You had to live on it for five years, make it workable and then it was deeded to you. That original structure is still standing, although over the years it's been kind of run down. So Mom and Dad took it on themselves a year ago to keep it looking old but make it a little more livable."
The homestead is on the family ranch, several miles from the house Clemens grew up in. He returns home once a year after the football season for a few weeks and keeps his hand in the ranch activities, even if it's only to feed the cows.
And for the second year in a row, he'll be back home in July to stage a one-day football camp.
"It's the Kellen Clemens Fundamentals and Football Camp," he said. "It's there at the high school and it benefits the high school athletes there. Schools in Oregon, but our high school in particular, the state funding is really low. They've had to cut back on some sports programs. It's just hard times everywhere.
"So when I was in college, I'd go back and we'd just put on a camp. The kids would pay $20 or $30 and get a three- or four-hour camp, and all the proceeds go too the high school to help pay for uniforms or gas or whatever."
This year as last year, John Clemens will be by his son's side, helping to run the camp for the kids in eastern Oregon. If there's anyone in the neighborhood with a child who wants to learn some football from an NFL quarterback, Kellen said to show up at Burns High School on July 11. There's a fee, an injury waiver to sign, and you're kid's a camper.
"In my part of the state, kids just don't get exposure these kinds of camps," Clemens said. "So it's a nice opportunity to give back to the rural communities, which obviously I've got kind of a soft spot for."
Not to mention being a daddy. Happy Father's Day.