For a week last January, a New York Mills doctor traded the Minnesota cold for Hawaiian sun and some football.
Thomas Seaworth, who practices family medicine at MeritCare Clinic in NY Mills, traveled to Hawaii to watch his son-in-law, Mat McBriar of the Dallas Cowboys, play in the National Football League's Pro Bowl.
McBriar is married to Seaworth's daughter Erin. The two have been married for three years now, Seaworth said.
According to Seaworth, the two met while Erin, studying at the University of Minnesota, went on an exchange program to the University of Hawaii, where McBriar was studying and playing college football.
McBriar, originally from Melbourne, Australia, first played Aussie Rules Football. After taking part in a punting camp set up by Darren Bennett, punter at the time of the San Diego Chargers, McBriar was referred to June Jones, coach of the University of Hawaii football team. Although Jones already had a starting punter, he was willing to let McBriar walk on and try out.
The story, Seaworth said, is that the starting punter was late for practice one day. Racing across campus, he allegedly tripped on a sprinkler head and sprained his foot. McBriar started the next game, and then went on to become an all-conference punter.
McBriar was signed as an undrafted rookie by the Denver Broncos and then got traded to the Seattle Seahawks, who waived him only days later.
Not long after, Seaworth said, he and McBriar were playing golf in Detroit Lakes when McBriar received a phone call from the San Francisco 49ers, who asked if he could come try out for the time.
After a few tryouts with the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams, McBriar was eventually signed to the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys. When the Cowboys' starting punter was cut, McBriar was given the job, and has been the starting punter ever since.
In 2006, McBriar became the second Australian ever selected to the Pro Bowl, and then was selected again after the 2010 season.
Pro Bowl experience
The Seaworths traveled to McBriar's first Pro Bowl, then visited this year again in January.
Players and families stay in a resort in Oahu, Seaworth said, and after family members go through security they're allowed to visit with players and their families with very few restrictions.
One of the best parts of the experience, Seaworth said, is getting to interact with players and families. Seaworth mentioned having dinner with Billy Cundiff, the kicker for the Baltimore Ravens, and his family.
"Miles Austin [Cowboys wide receiver], came over and visited with us," Seaworth said. "He talked about the charity foundation he's trying to set up - he's a real solid young man."
Cowboys tight end Jason Witten also introduced the Seaworths to Philip Rivers, quarterback for the San Diego Chargers.
"They'll interact with you just like your friends would interact with you," Seaworth said. "Once you start asking them for autographs, that probably turns them off a little bit."
"It was just very fun to interact with these guys on a social basis," he added.
On having a professional football player as a son-in-law, Seaworth said, "It's kind of unique and fun. I don't look at him as a football player. I look at him as a son-in-law."
Seaworth said that the schedule of the NFL can make it difficult for family holidays, with the Cowboys always playing on Thanksgiving and usually around Christmas.
This past year, the Seaworths had Christmas in Arizona, where the Cowboys were playing their next game.
Around Dallas, McBriar is a bit of a celebrity, Seaworth said.
"He's good about giving autographs, especially to kids," Seaworth said.
Outside of Dallas, though, McBriar doesn't get recognized as much as a star player might, Seaworth said.
"He can go to dinner in Detroit Lakes or Fargo or Perham and probably nobody would recognize him," Seaworth said.
Seaworth has practiced in NY Mills for just over two years, and has two other daughters and a son.