Welcome back! If you’re just joining us, this post is the second and final piece of my Playbook for the NFL Wife series, created to highlight everything that I wish I would have known as a Rookie Wife. First off, thank you all SO much (fans, friends, and football wives alike) for showing so much love during Part 1! I loved bouncing ideas off of each and every one of you and I hope that Part 2 will be equally insightful. Now, let’s get down to it!
5. More Money, More Problems
As fast as Geneo got drafted, the phone started ringing. Suddenly, no one could pay their bills that month and they all needed our help. But they had been getting along okay before Geneo got drafted—so what happened?! I can’t count how many times I’ve heard “It’s just a couple hundred dollars. You won’t even notice it’s gone.” I’ve even heard “But all the other NFL players help their friends and families. So why can’t you help me?” I don’t doubt that a lot of other NFL players help their friends and families—after all, statistics place 70% of NFL players filing for bankruptcy only 3 years after they retire from the NFL!
With the details of your husband’s contract posted online for all to see, money requests can be challenging to combat. But what a lot of friends and family don’t realize is that the NFL doesn’t last forever. And most guys don’t have the $50 million contracts you see on TV. That means that you need to make a plan from the beginning and stick to it. If you guys decide to help every person who calls, that’s your prerogative. However, if you want to secure your families’ future beyond the NFL, you’ll come to an agreement with your husband and apply it uniformly. A really great suggestion I’ve received over the years is to cap assistance to friends and family at $100 a month—anyone who calls after that will be told that helping out is not in the budget for that month. Or, if you err on the side of “every man for himself,” you can always use the “let me talk to my financial advisor” approach to protect your assets without making things too awkward between friends and family. It doesn’t matter what method you choose. What matters is that you and your husband are on the same page so that you can put forth a united front when those phone calls come (and they will).
6. Connect, Connect, Connect
The most difficult part about being an NFL Wife is knowing that you could be on your team for ten years, ten days, or even ten hours before being told to pack up and start your life over again—and none of that is up to you. This anxiety-inducing reality of NFL life has become a crutch for many NFL wives. “What’s the point in making friends if I never know how long I’ll be here?” This has become a typical excuse to get out of bible study, baby showers, and wine nights alike. But let me relay something to you that a veteran wife once relayed to me: you may never have access to a community like you do during your NFL years. With each team you go to, you have the opportunity to be a part of a group of women who get it. Of course, there is such thing as shallow “season-long friendships”—those that start on opening day and end on Super Bowl. But, despite all of the heartbreak I’ve gone through every time a close friend gets traded or released, I will never regret taking advantage of the lifelong connections I’ve made while bonding over wins and losses (literally). Not to mention, with so many transactions in the NFL, you never know when you will reunite with an old friend on your next team.
7. Never Doubt a Woman’s Intuition
A woman’s intuition is everything. We thrive off of relationships, giving us keen insight when something just doesn’t feel right. You see the stories in the news—the NFL Player who got swindled out of millions of dollars by the conniving financial advisor, or who gets arrested after “unknowingly” becoming involved in insider trading because of an opportunistic Wall Street executive. And I can’t even tell you how many times an “entrepreneur” has slid into my DM’s to ask whether me and Geneo want to “invest” in their (likely non-existent) product.
Don’t be afraid to speak up when something just doesn’t seem right. Much to many spectators’ surprise, being a wife means more than preparing the perfect casserole or being sure your husband has clean underwear. It means protecting your home from these types of attacks. And it means advising your husband when you see a snake in the grass.
8. Use Your Platform
Now, for something a little more uplifting! During our rookie season, I was struck by a wealthy businessman’s advice to “use my celebrity.” Wait, what? First of all, I didn’t feel like a celebrity by any means. I had never walked a red carpet, never been on TV, and I definitely wasn’t boasting Kardashian numbers on Instagram. But throughout Geneo’s career, it’s become clearer what this wealthy businessman really meant. For whatever reason, people care about what their favorite athletes are involved in. Usually, this is a negative—it seems like TMZ exposes someone every hour for their divorce, affair, arrest, etc.! But public attention can always be harnessed for good—to raise awareness about illiteracy, cancer, forced labor, discrimination.
You don’t need to wait until the pinnacle of your husband’s career to start advocating for a cause the two of you believe in. And you don’t need to splurge on a fundraising gala either (but if you do, be sure to send me an invite!). Using your platform can mean taking part in the everyday by reading to local kindergarteners, posting about time spent at your favorite animal shelter, or hosting a free football camp in your hometown. There will come a time when people don’t care about what we wore last night or where we went on vacation last offseason, and that’s okay. The platform only lasts for so long, so use it to make a difference while you have the biggest audience.
That sums up my Playbook for the NFL Wife! I know you guys aren’t shy—comment below or message me on Instagram at @mrshaleygrissom to let me know what you think!