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Don Barclay Interview: Packers lineman and his dad discuss Father’s Day memories

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The fifth-year Packer and his father look back on their relationship and discuss raising a new generation of children.

Stepping onto Lambeau Field, at night, with snowflakes flying and the thundering applause of the Green Bay Packer faithful. It’s numbing, even for Packers offensive lineman Don Barclay. But, for Don, there’s an experience that rises above even the hallowed ground of Lambeau.

“Without question, March 29, 2014 was life changing,” Don explained. “That was the day I became a parent. My wife and I knew we wanted to start a family right away – and we were extremely excited for it. But it’s one of those things that kind of stops you in your tracks, no matter how ready you are. I was staring at Cooper, thinking, ‘this is my boy. I’m a dad.’ It was incredible.”

Needless to say, Father’s Day has taken on deeper meaning in the Barclay household since that moment. And, earlier this year, Don and his wife, Brea, welcomed a baby girl, Brynn, into the world. Don looks forward to making memories with Cooper and Brynn that will last a lifetime – but statistics suggest those moments are becoming fewer and further between in the digital age.

In a world where screen-time tends to outweigh actual face time, the internet often replaces dads as the resource for “how to” information. And while the internet may “know all,” it’s dad who knows best for his son. With Father’s Day on the horizon, Gillette is putting the spotlight back on dads and encouraging guys to “Go Ask Dad” in this recently released online video.

We showed Don - one of the Packers who helped launch Gillette Fusion ProShield at Walmart - and his dad, Don Barclay III, the Go Ask Dad video. That prompted them to talk about some of their greatest father-son memories. And Don opened up about the moments he looks forward to sharing with Cooper and Brynn, now that he holds the title of dad.

ACME: Don, you have a couple of years of dad experience under your belt. What’s the best part so far?
DON: The best thing really is watching them grow. They grow and learn so much every day – and the experiences you share with them are so memorable. Just the other day, Cooper got to come to his first practice and I could hear him over there, yelling, “da-da,” and jumping up and down. That’s one of those special moments for me, as a father.

ACME: Dad, it’s your turn. What was it like raising Don? What’s the memory that stands out in your head above all others?
DAD: Donny was always very energetic and very competitive. One moment that stands out was an all-star baseball tournament in Cooperstown, NY, on Father’s Day, when he was 10 years old. It was the bottom of the last inning and Donny hit a grand slam to win the game, 7-5. He turned to me and said, “Dad, is that a good Father’s Day gift for you?” That moment and so many others stand out.

ACME: Let’s turn this back around, Don. Is there a moment that stands out when you went to your dad for advice?
DON: There’s really not just one thing because my dad has always been there. I was really into baseball and basketball – not football – when growing up. My dad put up a batting cage for me in the back yard and worked with me every day. But then, I started playing football as well. By 10th grade, I needed to decide whether I was going to focus on baseball or football, and the thought of dropping one of them was crushing. So I went to my dad. He wasn’t going to tell me what to do, but he was there to guide me through it. I picked football, but stepping away from baseball was something that was really difficult, and his support meant everything.

ACME: Don, what’s the one thing you most look forward to teaching Cooper and Brynn as they get older?
DON: The most important thing is to raise them to be responsible adults. My parents never pushed me into anything, but they were always there to teach me from right and wrong, and to be a good person. That’s what I most look forward to passing on to my children.

ACME: Dad, what’s it like seeing Don as a father now?
DAD: It’s so much fun as a grandparent, to sit back and watch. It's so much fun to see the interaction between Donny, Brea, and their kids. Watching Cooper help mow the grass with Donny, the whole family going to the playground – those moments are priceless and they go by so fast. You always have to remember, as a parent, to put yourself in that moment. And I’m proud to see Donny values that as well.

ACME: Don, fast forward a decade or so to when Cooper and Brynn are teens. How does the next generation of dads, like you, compete against the Internet for time with their children?
DON: I think one of the biggest keys is keeping your kids active and social. The more active you are with them, the less they’ll resort to a phone 24/7. Growing up, I went outside and played all day, every day. That’s what we’re trying to instill in our kids. Get outside, explore and always ask questions.

ACME: Dad, can you imagine having lost some of those father-son moments to the Internet, of all things?
DAD: There’s definitely added pressure these days. It all comes back to faith and family, and that being at the center of what’s going on in your life. When Donny and my other son were growing up, our family was always very busy. But, no matter what, toward the end of the day, we all come together and hashed things out at the dinner table. When you take the time for each other, it creates a special bond that can’t be replaced by anything else.

ACME: Don, how do you want your children to describe you?
DON: I want them to think of me as someone who is always there for them. Always supportive. I want them to always see me as a dad first – a family man. That would mean the world to me.

ACME: Don and Dad, this one is for both of you. Learning to shave. That seems to be a right of passage between father and son. Is that a moment you guys recall?
DON: My dad taught me and I remember it well. But what I remember as a little kid was having one of those fake razor toys. I'd stand next to my dad, looking into the mirror, pretending to shave just like him. Cooper is already into doing the same thing with me. He stands there, with the saving cream on and loves it. That’s another one of those bonding moments I’ll never forget.
DAD: I remember Donny and his toy razor next to me like it was yesterday. Heck, I can remember when I was little, watching my own dad and watching my grandfather shave. They had those old single blades and I’d be there lathering up my face. It’s kind of surreal seeing Cooper do that with Donny now.

ACME: Let’s finish this on a lighter note. Don, which of your fellow offensive linemen is the "dad" of the group? Who do your teammates tend to go to most for advice on or off the field?
DON: I'd have to say, our left guard, Josh Sitton. He’s the veteran on our offensive line and he’s been in Green Bay his whole career. He’s seen it all, he’s won a Super Bowl, been to Pro Bowls and he has the first voice in our meeting room. He’s been there to experience a lot, and I think that’s what father figures bring to the table. Josh shoulders a lot of responsibility and all of us look up to him.

To learn more about Gillette Fusion ProShield available at Walmart and Don Barclay, go to www.MeetTheProtectors .com