This week's WAG Feature Wednesday is of the sweet, beautiful Southern belle Jessica McClendon. Jessica and I recently connected through an NFL wives prayer group. Although our husbands played together on the Jaguars last year, we never actually met. Our paths crossed this year and we have mutual WAG friends. I was so excited to get to know Jessica, and learn more about her and her beautiful family. This NFL wife and mother is as kind-hearted and selfless as she can be. Read more from the interview below...
NFL WAG Stats
Name: Jessica McClendon
Husband: Jacques McClendon
Husband is Rookie or Veteran: Vet. Going into 6th season (Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins)
Children: Daughter Madison
NFLWAG: 6 years
Cities You've Lived in with NFL: I personally have lived in Detroit, Atlanta, Jacksonville and Miami
Off Season Home: Tennessee
Favorite Food: I love frozen grapes & Italian food
Hobbies: Running, kayaking, fishing, camping (anything outside)
Music on your Playlist: Mix[ture] of everything. I have some Lauren Diagle (Christian artist), Drake, Florence & The Machine
Interesting Facts: My absolute favorite time of the year is FALL and I watch Hocus Pocus three to four times by the end of July. I'm a kid at heart! Typically, I like to try to go to Disney one time during the Fall because they have it decorated. Disney is like my favorite thing ever!
I choose to focus more on the positive and the blessings." - Jessica, NFL wife
LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?
JM: I’m from East Tennessee. Jacques and I grew up in the same town and attended the same middle school. In college, he went to play football at UT and I ran cross country at a private Christian school in Tennessee. We had the same close friends and became best friends before we started dating. We were engaged right before training camp started in 2011 and married in 2012.
LM: How has the transition from Jacksonville to Miami been?
JM: The transition to Miami has been new. I fell in love with Jacksonville and the people I met. I have never met such an amazing group of women. Some were football wives and others were from Bible study or girl’s nights. I’m taking life friends from Jacksonville. It was a sad departure. We haven’t gotten a chance to meet anyone in Miami yet. Things are different now that I’m traveling with a baby.
LM: People may see Miami as a city you wouldn’t want your husband to play in just because of the nightlife and what Miami is known for. How has your experience been?
JM: I mean I’m sure Miami is cool when you’re going for vacation. It’s a gorgeous place and it’s fast. I’m from a small town so life in Miami is fast to me. We don’t stay near South Beach though. Jacques and I have awesome date nights. We’ll do dinner and go see the best the city has to offer but we don’t live the fast life. The driving...the people…it stresses me out. In your welcome book [from the team] they tell you you need to be very defensive when you drive here.
LM: Have you ventured out much in Miami or met any of the other wives of the Dolphins?
JM: I was welcomed to the city. Lauren Tannehill (QB Ryan Tannehill’s wife) reached out to me and was awesome. She took time out of her day to share valuable information. Lauren is from Texas but has been in Miami for awhile so she’s more established and has some great friends. Even though her and Ryan don’t have kids, she found out about her friend’s pediatrician. She suggested great areas to live in and even printed out recommended churches. She was very inviting and I appreciated that. Especially going from team to team to team. We are modern day nomads.
LM: How long have you and your husband been married? How many years have you been an NFL WAG?
JM: We married in March 2012 and recently celebrated our three year anniversary. I have been an NFL WAG for six years.
LM: Congratulations on another anniversary!
JM: Thank you! People will tell us, “I look at your relationship and it gives me hope.” I want to be different with everything I do. I don’t like where the norm is going.
LM: What type of activities, specifically, do you do with your spouse?
JM: As far as date nights? Anything spontaneous! We do whatever we feel like doing. We’re super close with my family so my mom can watch our daughter. There is a jump park in Tennessee next to a brewery with a bowling alley. We go to that area often.
LM: What are the pros and cons of being married to an NFL player?
JM: It’s like a shooting star! It is a blessing. The places we are able to go and the people we are able to network with is a benefit. However, it can be extremely stressful. I carry the stress of health. I think about my husband’s health, my closest [NFL] friends and their husband’s health. It’s a tough job doing what they do everyday. As a wife looking ahead 50 years from now I worry about my husband’s wellbeing. The decisions you have to make and the frequent travel is different. The amount of people who live this lifestyle is very limited so that part is difficult (not having many people to relate to what we go through). I choose to focus more on the positive and the blessings.
LM: You recently had a baby girl named Madison. Tell me about her.
JM: Oh Madison! She’ll be one year in September. Docile is never a term I would use to describe this child. She’s crazy, curious, happy, always waving at people. She’s everything I imagined a mix of my husband and I would be. She’s expressive. She’s fun. She’s awesome! She’s the biggest blessing we’ve ever received.
LM: How has motherhood changed your life?
JM: Motherhood has been a huge adjustment to say the least. I’m used to traveling, packing a bag and flying on a whim. If we were headed to London next week I’d say okay! Now, going to new areas has been a big deal. You have to find a trusted sitter just so you can have date night. I have to think about late night emergency care, pediatricians, and all these elements I never thought of before. It’s also changed the way I look at Jacques. The way he is with his daughter, how he looks at her and how he expresses providing for us makes me fall in love with him all over again.
LM: That’s so sweet! Let’s talk about your daily schedule since motherhood. What does your day look like?
JM: I usually wake up at 6:30 a.m. and get Madison changed. My husband goes to workout. Madison and I go run before it gets too warm. I come home and feed her, get our laundry done, go to the grocery (healthy foods), check any emails from the pediatrician, and pick up any suits from the dry cleaners. If Jacques has anywhere to go then I make sure he is packed and ready. At night, we have dinner and get our family time in, give Madison a bath, bedtime story, and put her to bed. After our daughter is asleep, we take some time to talk to each other about the day. He studies film and goes to bed early and we do it all over again the next day. Its chaotic but it’s fun. I love it.
LM: What is your love advice to all women and women inside the NFL? Is there a difference?
JM: Love your man. Support your man. Be there for him. Tell him the things he needs to hear. Be his #1. I think that’s why he married me. Jacques tells me I went above and beyond 24/7 and do the things that make him want to be better.
LM: Talk about what the NFL has meant for your family.
JM: It’s afforded my husband many opportunities. The NFLPA has given him the opportunity to do internships. It’s given him the chance to network and connect with important people so when he’s done with NFL, he’ll have something to fall back on. His post-football career is extremely important to him. We’ve been able to travel to new places and meet incredible individuals who have taught us things. He’s made great relationships with some of the guys he played with. The level he’s getting to play at is a cool experience. The average career for players in the NFL is 3 years. It’s been a huge blessing and I love to see him succeed.
LM: You mentioned that your husband was able to do some internships while active in the league. What were those?
JM: He interned with an Athletic Director at a university and also with the NCAA headquarters. When he was in school he received his Master’s in Sports Administration. He wants to help athletes.
LM: What are your hobbies?
JM: I like to be on the river a lot. I grew up in mountain area. I also like being fit, running and biking.
LM: You seem like an avid runner. Does your husband run with you?
JM: That’s NOT happening at all. He’ll ride the bike but tell me, “I am NOT joining you on that long run.” I try as much as I possibly can to run. I’m not running on the treadmill; I’m a point A to point B kinda person. I’m setting goals and looking into my cadence and heart rate. I want to do 5k, 10k, and half marathons. I hope to do them with my little girl and save the t-shirts to make a blanket out of them. Plus, in the future when she’s a big teenager and mom isn’t cool then maybe she will have some fun memories to look back on and she’ll think of all the things we actually did together. I want her to grow up having a fit and active lifestyle.
LM: What would you like people to know about you?
JM: Umm…I don’t know. I think it would be obvious that my heart’s in the right place and I absolutely adore my family. I try to show those things anyway so I hope that it would be obvious.
LM: What would you like people to know about NFL families or the NFL lifestyle?
JM: That it is NOT what people think. It’s not what you see on TV. There’s a small percentage that is like that but that’s for all realms: basketball, Hollywood, etc. The cattiness that you see on television is not real life. We want each other to do well. We’re watching out for each other. It’s not the dramatic stuff that you see. It’s not as glamourous as they make it out to be. It’s not what it seems.
LM: Being a football WAG who has experienced different teams, what has been your experience with other NFL WAGS?
JM: Jacques was first drafted to the (Indianapolis) Colts. There was an age gap between us and the other families and we weren’t engaged yet. I was the girlfriend. A lot of the guys had been there for a long time and they had wives and kids. They were very inviting but I didn’t meet girls my age or in my situation (Jacques and I were long distance). In Detroit Jacques and I had just gotten married and I met Robs wife Natalie and she was awesome. She reached out to me and gave advice. She explained things to me like, “This is your responsibility now. You’re a wife now. This is what he needs from you.” That advice has never left me. Her dad was in the NFL also so she had lived that life. Her counsel left a lasting impact. Then we moved to Atlanta and I didn’t meet anyone for almost an entire season. I was back and forth in and out of Atlanta so I may have separated myself more. Once I became a part of the NFL wives prayer group, I connected with some women in Atlanta the night before my husband was released. Then we got a deal with the Jaguars and made the move to Florida! Jacksonville embraced me more than any other place, but overall I have not had any negative experience. I do know there is cattiness. One of best friends in Jacksonville had to move to another team. She told me It was a lot harder for her to get involved. All of my experiences have been positive though. I’m such an include-r. I want everyone to be a part. Honestly, the women I have had the opportunity to be around really have been incredible. They are intelligent, driven leaders. They are engineers, nurses, they work for PR firms. They are hard-working moms with Master's degrees. Some of them are life long forever friends and we are all WAGS out here supporting our better half.
Great attitude and insight, Mrs. McClendon! Thanks for being a noble example of an NFL WAG. Good luck in Miami this season!