Nick Fairley to play Sunday with heavy heart after mother's death

Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley will play Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, but he'll do so with a heavy heart. Fairley unexpectedly lost his mother, Paula Rodgers, this past week.

Fairley raced back to the Mobile, Alabama, area in the wee hours of Wednesday morning to be with his family as his mother passed away at the age of 51. She leaves behind four children and six grandchildren. The funeral is 11 a.m. on Tuesday at New Ship A.M.E. Church in Theodore, Alabama.

According to Fairley's agent, Brian Overstreet, he will play Sunday under the belief his mother -- with whom he was incredibly close -- would have wanted him to do so.

Rodgers had complained of chest pains a few weeks ago and briefly stayed in the hospital. But her death was a horrific shock to those who knew her. Fairley missed practices Wednesday and Thursday to be with his family, but returned to the team Friday.

A free-agent signing this past offseason, the Auburn product signed with the Saints, in part, because of the team's proximity to his mother. She would attend every home game. There, she saw her son morph into the team's top acquisition and establish himself among the best interior tackles with 3.5 sacks this season.

Now, he'll head back on the field after dealing with a deeply personal loss.

"He's going to play for her," Overstreet said.

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