May, 2015. Geneo had just been drafted to New England, and I knew our lives were changed forever. After spending the ride home from Geneo’s Draft Party googling whether New England was in Canada, I geared up to return to work the next morning. Upon arrival, it seemed like everyone in the office had heard the good news. “I’m so jealous—you’re going to be having so much fun, shopping every day in Boston while I’m stuck at the office,” said one anonymous co-worker. Little did she (or I) know, the life of an NFL Wife is not for the faint of heart.
The beginning of the season always provides an opportunity to reflect. I have learned SO many lessons over the years, all the hard way. Wouldn’t it have been great if I could have skipped all of the embarrassing and heartbreaking moments I endured as a Rookie Wife? Hence, the creation of the Playbook for the NFL Wife—for rookies, veterans, and fans alike! Today, we’ll begin with the first 4 golden rules for the NFL life, with more guidelines being published in the weeks to come.
1. Stay Offline
“Geneo Grissom.” Rookie year, I was constantly typing his name into Google, Twitter, Bleacher Report…anywhere that might be talking about my husband. If Geneo had a great play, I was typing it in. But more often, if Geneo had a bad day, I wanted to know exactly what the haters were saying about my husband.
Was I planning on calling them out? No. Was there any good at all that could come from me engaging in this obsessive behavior? HELL no. All that came out of my constant online searching was a never-ending feeling of fear and paranoia. And it showed. Your husband can feel your stress and anxiety from a mile away, and his stress and anxiety is guaranteed to grow in correlation. Make your home a stress-free zone and leave all of the bad online energy at the door.
2. If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say, Don’t Say it at All
The Bambi mantra. I learned this when I was 2-years-old, and yet so often I break it. It was 2014 and I was at my favorite college gameday of the year—The Red River Rivalry. After taking our seats, I (ignorantly) began talking significant smack about another player to my friend sitting next to me. The fan in front of us turned around, a familiar look of disgust on his face. “The player you’re talking about is my best friend. I drove all the way to Dallas to watch him play today.” I broke out in an immediate sweat. My heart sank to the bottom of the bleachers. How could I have been so stupid and inconsiderate?
And yet it’s a common component of watching a live football game. “#14, you need to catch that!!” “That missed block is why they cut you, #94!” And those are just some of the tamer comments I’ve heard fans or commentators make while watching a football game, all while sitting right next to the wife of #14 or the girlfriend of #94. Most teams have a designated family section so that wives and girlfriends of the players and coaches can be somewhat insulated from this kind of banter. But, inevitably, fans make comments—brutal comments—and your husband can’t be adored all of the time. With that being said, wives and girlfriends can always help by not adding to the problem and keeping comments of frustration to themselves (take my word for it!).
3. The Golden Ticket Situation
Contrary to popular belief, most NFL players do NOT receive an endless amount of free game tickets. With complimentary tickets often capped at 2, mayhem is bound to ensue. It normally goes like this: Your husband invites all 15 of his childhood friends to come see him play without telling you. They show up expecting a VIP weekend, not realizing that their $3,000+ worth of tickets is coming right out of your husband’s paycheck. Or, your husband’s distant cousin calls to tell you that he’s already booked his flight to join the family at the Super Bowl (without asking ahead of time, of course). Tickets shouldn’t be a problem, right? Your resentment grows to match the $2,000 Super Bowl ticket that you’ll now be comping for someone you’ve never met.
All of this can be avoided by one easy conversation at the beginning of the season. Create a guideline with your husband for how tickets will be provided and then stick to that guideline in all circumstances. For example, Geneo and I have come to the compromise that only our parents’ tickets will be comped (with the exception of Super Bowl). However, I know other couples who will comp as many tickets as necessary or who refuse to comp any tickets at all. It doesn’t matter what your approach is. All that matters is that the two of you agree on it ahead of time and apply it uniformly. This will prevent a lot of arguments in your household and help to make “the ticket conversation” just a little less awkward when turning down ticket requests.
4. Play Your Part
This is where things get a little bit more serious. After all, what “part” do you even have to “play”? I’ve talked about this before, so much so that it feels like déjà vu. It goes like this:
I’m at a networking event with Geneo. A man, usually in his 50’s, approaches us, wanting to talk football with my husband. Half way into the conversation, he turns to me and asks, “So, do you do anything at all? Or do you just stay at home?”
I don’t think he truly understands the implications of what he’s just asked—how could he? Did he mean to ask whether I gave up a career I worked my whole life for in order to support my husband’s NFL dream? Or maybe whether I had to quit school halfway through to raise our children?
He doesn’t know the reality, which is that our husbands can be released or traded at any second. A lot of us didn’t plan on “just staying home.” But it’s scary to start a career in an unfamiliar city that you never know how long your husband will play in. For me, it was scary to choose to go to law school. Choosing to go to law school meant at least a 3-year commitment to Boston, where I had no friends or family, regardless of where Geneo’s NFL career took him. But these are the tough decisions you should make up front, instead of waiting for that dreaded phone call that says your husband has been traded. Will you pursue your career goals, even if that may mean being physically separated from your husband for a while? Or will you join him along the way at every step of the journey? Both are equally admirable—it’s about making the right choice for your family, and doing so before the situation actually arises.
Thank you so much for reading the first 4 rules of the Playbook for the NFL Wife! Whether you’re a rookie, veteran, or just a fan wanting an inside look, I hope that you found it valuable. Comment below to let me know what you think! And feel free to use my “contact” page to connect if you have any thoughts or questions. Talk soon!