Q&A with NFL Wife Tonya Bush: "We Choose to Live Simple Not Flashy"

My second NFLWAG feature is of  the beautiful and humble Mrs. Tonya Bush. Tonya and I met in Denver while her husband played for the Broncos. We've kept in touch for about three years now even though we live in different states. She is such a sweetheart and I am thrilled to have her support with the site. Read more on Tonya after the break.

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NFL WAG Stats

Name: Tonya Bush

Husband: Rafael Bush

Husband is Rookie or Veteran: Veteran. Entering sixth year (Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, New Orleans Saints)

Children: Daughter named Makayla

NFLWAG: Five years (and counting)

Cities You've Lived in with NFL: New Orleans

Off Season Home: South Carolina

Hobbies: DIY projects like making tutus for kids and making organic hair products; Pinterest

Interesting Facts: I played softball (2nd base and outfield) at South Carolina State and made 2nd Team All MEAC my Junior Year

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If I could do anything like you’re doing now with this blog, I would try to help stay at home moms who are going through post partum depression and being away from friends and family." - Tonya Bush

Q&A

LM: What are your fears, if any, about appearing on a public blog?

TB: My fear would be somebody talking negative in the comments; I can’t picture having to go through that.

LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?

TB: I am originally from Atlanta, Georgia. My husband (Rafael) and I met in college while attending South Carolina State University. We clicked my Freshman year (2008) and it took off from there. We were friends first. He played football and I played softball. Athletes kind of run across the same people. Rafael was friends with my cousin who was also on the football team. I think I initially met him through my cousin. I didn’t look at him in that type of way at first but like I said, we were friends first and the relationship grew from there.

LM: Nice! Two student-athletes. How did you find the time to hang out with the hectic schedules?

TB: I was always busy! I was busy running to practice, 5:00 a.m. workouts, and running around campus to class. I used to tell my husband, “I don’t know what you saw in me but I’m glad you saw something.”

LM: That’s too sweet. I like how you mentioned you were friends first. I think that’s the best way! What do you think changed to cause the relationship to progress from friendship to more? 

TB: I prayed to God one night after a previous heartbreak. I just asked God to send me somebody I could be with and be loved by. After that prayer, something changed in how I saw Rafael. It was all God. I would say I prayed for him and God answered.

LM: What are the pros and cons of being married to an NFL player? 

TB: The pros are the benefits we get from it. My husband is sponsored by Under Armour so we get free stuff (from them). The financial stability is a benefit as well. Rafael’s number one goal of being in the NFL was to secure a future for our family. The cons are definitely the sacrifice of being away from my family and always being by myself. I’m really close to my family. I’m a triplet and I also have two older brothers.

LM: Wow! You’re a triplet? You must have a really close bond with them. What are their names?

TB: Oh yeah, the closest! My triplet set consists of a brother and sister. So it's me (Tonya), Sonya, and Edward. I’m close with my brother too. My sister went to South Carolina State with me. I bond with Sonya and Edward in different ways. My brother and I talk about sports, movies, and anime cartoons. My sister and I discuss girl stuff like makeup. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about them. When I call them, they’re always together. I miss being there too! They live three to four hours away from our house here but that can be a good little drive with a 2 year-old. That’s probably the worst thing about being in the NFL…the relationships you have take a hit.

LM: Have you made friends with other women through the Saints (team)?

TB: I’ve made friends with some of the wives on the team in the past, but their significant others were either released or traded. In those instances, you lose that friendship and have to start all over. I recently lost 2 friends. It makes me think, “What’s the point?” This business is cut throat. One minute you’re there and one minute you’re not.

*Funny you should say that, Tonya. I talk about exactly that in my last blog post: "Making Friends as a Football Wife"

LM: Did you expect to be a mother at this age? Talk about motherhood. 

TB: Yes, I did expect to be a mother at this age. I turn 26 on August 28th. Makayla is a planned baby. We got what we asked for. She’s perfect in every sense. You know how they say babies say the darndest things? She’s at that age. What I most enjoy is seeing her grow, listening to her little jokes, and just listening to her talk in her baby voice. I love that I can experience all her firsts: seeing her dance for the first time and watching her taste different foods for the first time. It’s so precious to me. Sometimes I’ll have the camera or video rolling at random moments just to catch things.

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LM: Do you guys plan to have anymore children?

TB: Yes, we do plan to have more. I want another one I just don’t know when. I joke with my husband about it and I’ll say, “Babe, I think we should have another baby.” From his perspective, he would like to see where we’re at after this season since this is the last year under his contract with the Saints. I can’t deal with raising a newborn without the support of family around. Plus, I lost some weight in the gym and started thinking, “Do I really want to have another one?” When the time is right it’ll be right.

LM: You and your husband just celebrated your two year anniversary. Congratulations! Tell me more. 

TB: Thank you! Yes, we celebrated our second anniversary on July 12th!

LM: I saw on Instagram where he got you a nice little gift (Rolex). Were you surprised?

TB: I was very surprised! I am very easy to please and a simple girl. We planned a trip to New York to celebrate and I thought that was gift enough! He surprised me with this anniversary dinner and gave me the Rolex at the restaurant. I was very happy! It was the best weekend ever! Rafael went above and beyond. He did tell me not to expect a Rolex every year though.

LM: [Laughing] Understandable! Seems like you have a great relationship.What’s your love advice to the people? 

TB: It’s all about compromise. It’s all about give and take, communication and being there for one another. When your husband is in the NFL, support is the one thing they’re looking for when they come home and they’ve had a long day. I don’t think it gets any better than having that love and support and that goes both ways.

LM: Speaking of relationships, what do you think about all the coverage lately surrounding NFL players and domestic violence? 

TB: Domestic violence is an everyday thing in our world. It happens to certain people in life no matter who you are. Let me say, I am a firm believer that a man should not hit a woman no matter what and vice versa. This issue is highlighted because men in the NFL are on a pedestal. Players can’t drop a pen without someone saying something. It’s sad but it’s the reality of playing in the NFL.

LM: What would you like people to know about you?

TB: I am a God-fearing woman who at the end of the day wants to have something for herself outside the NFL life. Right now, I'm willing to be there for my husband wherever this life leads us until it's time to hang up the cleats. I am an educated woman who is not depending on him to take care of me for life. I’m in grad school for Rehabilitation Counseling – Case Management. I would love to work with high school students to help them make the right choices. I’m also interested in Guidance Counseling so I can mentor.

LM: That’s great, Tonya! Mentoring and educating the youth is a great way to give back.You recently started your own business Angelic Tots. How did you get started with that?

TB: I had the idea for Angelic Tots while we were in New Orleans but it kept going away and coming back to me. I was using wholesalers and making tutus and birthday outfits for kids because I enjoyed doing it (I like DIY projects). The business slowed down after Rafael broke his leg. I had to put it on the backburner because my husband needed me; him and Makayla. I was taking care of two babies in a sense. When he recovered, I picked back up with it so business spiked at first then slowed down again. It’s very much like a rollercoaster.

LM: What has being an entrepreneur taught you?

TB: Being an entrepreneur has opened my eyes to the fact that I have to be prepared! I need to have a plan A through Z. It’s really cut throat depending on what your business is. You have to know what your competition is up to. Most importantly, you have to be passionate about your business. I’ve learned to stick to what I’m passionate about.

LM: What would you like people to know about NFL families and the NFL lifestyle?

TB: I can’t speak for all NFL families and everyone lives differently. It’s all about how you choose to live. As for our family, we choose to live simple and not flashy. Our life isn’t at all what you see on TV. Especially when you see the image that reality TV has given NFL wives…that’s not who we are. Television and the Internet give us a bad rep. I just want people to get that [stuff] out their head. For example, some people think when a player signs a contract he gets all that money right then and there. That’s not how it works.

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LM: What does being an NFL WAG mean to you? 

TB: It’s just a title to me. Doesn’t really mean anything. The wife aspect of “NFL wife” is more important than the NFL part.

LM: Anything else you would like to add?

TB: I just really want people to know that being an NFL wife is far more than what the name entitles. We are wives more than we are linked to the NFL. We just want to be the wife, not what many people expect us to be as far as living lavish and wearing expensive clothes and all that. I can shop at Target and Walmart. I just feel like money is better spent on other things than trying to keep up with a certain lifestyle. I can’t speak for anyone else but that’s how I am. I’ve had people tell me how humble I am and that they wouldn’t have guessed I was an NFL wife. We just try to live the simple life.

If I could do anything like you’re doing now with this blog, I would try to help stay at home moms who are going through post partum depression and being away from friends and family. I want to figure something out and build awareness and a platform. It’s not about NFL wives. It’s about mothers…someway somehow I’m’ going to figure it out.

LM: That sounds like a special community to reach out to. Can you relate to stay at home moms struggling with post partum depression?

TB: It’s a serious thing. I don’t know anybody in new cities or have family in new cities when we move. I remember sometimes I just found myself being sad for no reason and that’s when I kind of knew something was wrong with me. My relationship was good and my baby was good and I had everything, but I just found myself sad. My husband suggested I go to the doctor. I was experiencing shortness of breath, irregular heartbeat, and stressing about the smallest things. The doctor performed tests and listened to me explain my day to day routine and symptoms; she diagnosed me with anxiety. She told me it would be good to have some type of outlet to get my mind off things when I’m stressed. I enjoy going to the gym; it’s relaxing to me and a nice stress reliever. I know someone will read this and think "What do you have to stress about?"

LM: If people think that, then they most likely are the ones who feel that money is everything, right?

TB: Life is about more than just money. It’s about establishing yourself and being on your own two feet. At the end of the day my husband can’t play football for the rest of his life. For a wife, being in one place long enough to establish yourself [career] is challenging. Nothing like starting a job somewhere and having to give your two week notice right after you start. Like I said earlier, in this business nothing is for certain. I don’t like to come to him for money. I know he’ll be supportive when the time comes for me to finish up my graduate degree and work.

LM: Last question. I know you were quite the athlete in college.Do you still play softball from time to time or catch any games on TV?

TB: I’m currently looking for a slow pitch team to play with but have yet to find one in New Orleans.

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Hey, if you live in New Orleans and know of a slow pitch league, hit Mrs. Bush up. 

-LM