Q&A with NFL Wife Tenisha Patterson Brown: "Nobody Understands How NFL Contracts Work"

My next WAG feature Wednesday is of the "fierce, fabulous and flawless" Mrs. Tenisha Patterson Brown. Tenisha and I were introduced through our husbands, who were drafted together in 2009 to the Carolina Panthers. As a woman of God, football wife, entrepreneur, and attorney, Tenisha is truly a well-rounded woman! I had to get a Q&A with this lady and pick her brain on life as a newlywed, business owner, and NFL WAG. She also shed some light on NFL contracts and football "sororities." Read the interview below.

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NFL WAG Stats

Name: Tenisha Patterson Brown

Husband: Everette Brown

Husband is Rookie or Veteran: Veteran. Going into his 7th season (Carolina Panthers, San Diego Chargers, Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins)

NFLWAG: Going on 7 years

Cities You've Lived in with NFL: Charlotte (I never moved)

Off Season Home: Charlotte

Favorite Food: Pineapples

Favorite Music: Ratchet Florida music 

Hobbies: Traveling; I love writing cards (Hallmark is my favorite store); Blogging (www.fiercefabulousflawless.com)

Interesting Facts:I am a Sports Attorney and Business Manager for Professional Athletes. I created my own job title when I was in college because I didn’t want to be a sports agent but I wanted to help athletes. I created the position of Business Manager because I help athletes on the field as well as off the field. 

It's not fun thinking that my husband may not live to the age of 60 because of the physicality of the game." - Tenisha Patterson Brown

Q&A

LM: Why did you agree to do this interview? 

TPB: I think there is a negative image or perception of NFL wives and professional athlete’s wives in general. A lot of people don’t see players as real people...just fixtures in their fantasy football league. The media is so judgmental and I think there needs to be something positive said about athletes and their families.

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

TPB: I am from Tampa, Florida and I moved to Charlotte when I enrolled at Charlotte School of Law.

LM: How did you and your husband meet?

TPB: We met the day before his 19th birthday which was also the day before they started training camp [at FSU]. We both attended Florida State during our undergraduate years. His teammate, who was also a friend of mine, came over to my house because we were cooking but didn’t tell me Everette was coming. Everette had been trying to holla at me via Facebook for about six months but I wasn’t giving him any play because he was a baby. I later found out they had previously discussed and plotted how Everette would meet me. After that night at my house, we started dating.

LM: You and your husband are a part of the Seminole family. Talk about what it’s like to be a part of the FSU community.

TPB: Being part of the FSU community is nothing short of a blessing. I used to tell Everette all the time that if you take care of home, home will take care of you. FSU blessed Everette with an athletic scholarship and a chance to live out his dream playing football. Florida State blessed me with degrees and friendships and my line sisters. The university has continued to support us and our foundation. They constantly ask Everette to come out and do events. We are boosters and will continue to be boosters. We’re a part of the Alumni Association. We love Florida State. We really do. We love what it stands for. Once a Seminole always a Seminole. When we go back to FSU, we know there’s going to be someone looking out for us because we’re a part of that Seminole family.

LM: How long have you and your husband been married? How long have you been an NFL WAG ? 

TPB: We’ve been married a year and a month! I have been with Everette since he’s been in the league so I’ve been an NFL WAG going on 7 years now.

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

TPB: That’s a loaded question. I’ll do the cons first to end on a positive note. One of the cons is the lack of job security. When you’re married to someone who is a lawyer or doctor they can work anywhere. NFL players have no control over their career – when it begins, when they have to move, when they’re traded, and when it ends. You have players like Tom Brady and Ray Lewis in the league but most players don’t have that opportunity. Another con is the injuries and the toll the sport takes on the guys. The average lifespan in the NFL is shorter. It’s not fun thinking that my husband may not live to the age of 60 because of the physicality of the game. Many people say, “Oh, they’re athletes and they don’t need to be paid that much!” If you risk your life everyday for someone else’s entertainment, you should be paid well too! One positive or pro for the lifestyle is that you get to experience a lot of things that you wouldn’t experience in a normal career. I see a lot of places and meet a lot of people. You get to interact with fans and have the opportunity to touch lives in ways that you wouldn’t if you weren’t in that position. Another pro is seeing your husband live out his dream.

LM: What is your love advice to all women and women inside the NFL? Is there a difference? 

TPB: To all women – Love yourself first. Always. It’s God, you, then everybody else. If you don’t love you first and invest in yourself first, then you can’t fully love someone else. There’s nothing more beautiful than a woman who truly loves herself. I find that with many NFL wives they live for their husband as an NFL player so when their husband isn’t an NFL player anymore, they don’t know what to do. When the lifestyle stops, they don’t know what to do. Unfortunately, I’ve seen a lot of wives leave their husbands after the NFL. You have to have your own happiness in order for you to be able to love the person that you’re with. You gotta love yourself and be happy with who you are.

LM: You brought up the point about divorces in the NFL. I know that’s something we discuss in our household. What is the NFL divorce rate now? I know it’s high.

TPB: The statistic right now is that 70% of NFL players get divorced within 3 years of retirement or leaving the league. I do a lot of educating college football players on life after the league. Part of my program called College to NFL Transition Program instructs them on the transition from college to professional athletics and what comes with it. You see guys who marry women when they just get to the league and they’re on their high. Then when the NFL is over and the lifestyle is no longer there, she can’t handle it. You can’t handle it. You’re depressed because you’re not playing football anymore and she’s depressed because she doesn’t have the lifestyle anymore. I try to enlighten guys on the reality of what can happen if you don’t make wise decisions concerning your future.

LM: What are your hobbies? What are your passions?

TPB: I love to travel, see the world and experience new things. I love to help people grow. My passion is helping individuals to be better versions of themselves. I like when someone tells me their idea and seeing the idea come into fruition. I love seeing people do something they never thought they could do. I enjoy making people happy, giving gifts, and just doing nice things for others. It’s kind of ironic because I’m an only child and don’t like to share [Laughs]. However, I love making people happy.

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LM: What do you think about all the coverage lately surrounding NFL players and domestic violence? 

TPB: I think when it comes to domestic violence, the problem is the perception we as a society have on domestic violence and the perception there is on athletes. There’s a lack of care for the victim. In the Ray and Janay Rice incident, the video kept getting played over and over again. She could not go on about her life without someone making her relive what happened. Lord knows I don’t condone domestic violence and any man who does that deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest. I didn’t like all the questions like, “Why is she with him?” There is such a thing called Battered Woman Syndrome. It’s a real legal defense. Do I agree with his career ending? No I don’t. When you take away his career, then you have two negatives: he loses his job and a means to support his family. He didn’t deserve his career to be taken away. I think of it like this: if someone who’s a doctor hits his wife are you going to say now you can’t be a doctor anymore? You get your punishment and get your help. I believe everyone needs to follow the same rules. When you’re an athlete, you are held to a higher standard and sometimes it's unfair. The positive note in all the coverage is that the NFL started paying attention and so did other leagues. Husbands have abused their wives inside and outside the league but now there is some awareness. You have more organizations and people trying to mitigate the problem.

LM: Talk about what the NFL has meant for your family.

TPB: The NFL is definitely a blessing. We have been able to accomplish a lot of our business goals and dreams in a shorter period of time because of the financial aspect of it. One of the things we’ve had to do in our relationship is prioritize what the NFL means to us. My husband and I decided that it’s faith, family, then football. When football is taken away and he doesn’t play anymore, our family will be strong, our faith will still be strong, and we will just replace football with another occupation.

LM: Talk about some of those business goals that you and Everette have been able to accomplish. 

TPB: One of the things my husband really wanted to do was become a franchisee. We opened a Tropical Smoothie almost 2 years ago in Charlotte, NC. We also had the opportunity to start Charlotte Luxury Rentals. With the rental car company, it started from nothing. There wasn’t an existing business plan. We had to create everything. We were able to do that because of opportunities he’s had in the NFL.

LM: What has being an entrepreneur taught you? 

TPB: One of the biggest lessons I learned with entrepreneurship is that you have to do everything, know everything, and be willing to do everything. You have to deal with employees, vendors and clients. You have to manage accounting, taxes, government regulations, and do it well enough to be successful. That is a huge challenge. You have to grind it out. It’s not like okay we opened our doors so now people will automatically start coming. I have a greater respect for our businesses because we’re building it ourselves.

LM: What’s the hardest thing about being a restaurant owner? 

TPB: Dealing with employees.

LM: Which business do you like better?

TPB: I love being a lawyer. I love creating my own hours. I love drafting. I love helping people create business plans and seeing them open [for business]…seeing everything come into fruition. I enjoy my company better. It’s my favorite.

Check out Tenisha’s company Definitive Sports Representation here

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

TPB: That I’m human and I go through the same struggles and challenges, and have the same desires and needs that everyone else does. I feel like it’s crazy that I have to actually explain that.

LM: What type of activities, specifically, do you do with your spouse? 

TPB:  We travel a lot. The last destination was the Cayman Islands for our one-year anniversary. We went to four weddings this year, three of which were all in a month’s time! We hang out with our dogs because we love our dogs. They are our babies for right now. We have two pit bulls – Coup is the boy, Carolina is the girl, and we have a Yorkie (Pebbles).

LM: How is that having a pitbull? They also get a bad rep.

TPB: We can’t go to the dog park because people start grabbing their dogs and being dramatic. We get upset about how people talk to us when we have them. They’re called a vicious breed which is sad because they’re not.

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

TPB: Everybody doesn’t blow money fast. Nobody is making it rain in the club everyday. A lot of times people think because your husband is in NFL that they can ask you for money all the time. They don’t think you have bills to pay. We get asked for money all the time especially because we own businesses. Everyone always contacts us when they need something. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you have to live a certain lifestyle, and every NFL player isn’t a millionaire. The way taxes are set up, even if you make league minimums, the combination of federal and state taxes adds up to almost 50%. Nobody understands how NFL contracts work and how they're really broken down. It’s only guaranteed [money] if you’re on the team. If you’re not on active roster then that affects your life.

LM: You guys have been with several teams over the years so you may have a different perspective than I do concerning NFL women. Talk about what you’ve seen with NFL wives. 

TPB: It’s different depending on where you go. Unfortunately, some women portray a certain image and it’s almost as if they push and feed into what’s seen on the reality shows like Basketball Wives and Football Wives [Vh1]. NFL wives are different depending on the team. Dallas has nice wives. There’s a hierarchy in Dallas though [amongst wives]. The Redskins wives are really nice and close. They do community service together every week.

LM: Is the difference in treatment a result of being a veteran versus a rookie? 

TPB: If you’re a rookie, you’re a rookie. That’s going to be everywhere. It’s more the money distinction. When big money’s in the room, you know it. There are some who have big money [contracts] who don’t act like that but there are others who don’t associate with you unless you have big money too. That attitude also filters into the wives. If your husband is acting like that most likely you will too. Again, that’s not everywhere though. Julius (Peppers) was the big money guy here in Carolina and Jon Beason but they were so nice to us and great guys. But then you have players who are jerks because they have money and it’s stupid but it happens. It’s kind of sad because its’ like money shouldn’t make you but that’s what some people live for because its all they have.

LM: How do you go about changing some of those unwelcoming attitudes among the NFL women?

TPB: I don’t know. I think you have to create a more unified forefront that every wife wants to be a part of. I correlate the NFL wives society to a sorority. It’s a group of women with a commonality, all working towards the same goal. Then you have the cattiness that goes along with a sorority too. For me, I was discouraged in joining the wives’ groups in the NFL because I’m in a sorority. I remember what it was like to be a Neo versus a Prophyte in college. I obviously know what it feels like when you have to earn your way into a group out of respect. In college it’s different than when you are grown. When you’re grown, you don’t have time for the pettiness and girl fights. I’m really trying to live and be productive (not talk about Pinterest).

You can’t get mad at me because I can’t go to away games. I’ve had a wife look down on me because of that. We have businesses to run. It’s those instances that pushed me away from wanting to be a part of a wife group. Your blog is such a great idea because every wife is not the same. Every wife is not at home waiting for their husband to get home. Not every wife wants to stay home and have seven kids. Everyone thinks we workout, shop and take care of the kids…or really that a nanny takes care of kids. That’s not my life.

The only way it would change is if people stopped thinking they were better than others. That’s tough to change because so many individuals in society think that way. I’d like to compare NFL wives to army wives, only not on the same scale because being an Army wife is really hard. However, I think NFL wives should take time to help other wives in need like Army wives by meeting, having Bible study, and talking to one another. We need to have each other’s backs and have those conversations. When your husband is away and you have a newborn, how do you deal with that? It’s hard. Building a better support system for each other would be nice.

LM: Anything else you would like to add?

TPB:  Athletes are real people.

Spoken like a true attorney...Well done Mrs. Patterson Brown. 

-LM