Lifestyle Illusions

Tom Brady receives two free tickets each home game. My husband receives two free tickets each home game. We pay for every ticket on away games--and they're in the nosebleed section. If Tom Brady cannot get you free tickets, I'm the wrong person to ask. That's what I wish I had tattooed on my face. Actually just printed on a banner I could fly across the sky when I get asked the popular question, "Can he get me some tickets?" I used to awkwardly look down and politely let them down with a simple 'I'm sorry, no.' Now I abruptly follow up with, "Yes, they are $135 each. Let me know how many you would like to buy." In which their eyes point back at me with a deer in a headlight-type look. Money, fame and power: the words synonymous with professional athlete. People's minds race to dollar signs when they hear what my husband does for a living. And if I was never placed in this situation, I would think the same thing because the life of an athlete is constantly glamorized. I suppose it stems from the majority of MLB and NBA players who actually do make millions of dollars their first year in the league. Football is different. Yes, there are drafted players that receive a multi-million dollar signing bonus or those that make it to their second contract with guaranteed money. But there's also another side to the NFL--the unestablished or undrafted scenario.

You rarely hear about the player who moves teams every year or the unemployed, injured player awaiting clearance so they can finally have a team to call home. This is the part of the NFL that flies under the radar. Andre was undrafted. He was signed to the practice squad for his first year and has made the league minimum for the past three seasons. Assumptions are made based off a number found via Google. As soon as 'NFL' is mentioned, we're considered millionaires. Players see nearly half their salary after taxes. There are agents and financial advisors that receive a percentage. It's advised to set money aside for the years following retirement for treatment of various injuries. The average lifespan in the NFL is three years. Compare that to the 35-40 years the 'normal' career will last. For an unestablished player, it ends up about even.

I have actually been called out for the Hyundai I drive or the not-so-great tickets I bought for an away game. It's assumed I drive a Mercedes and sit in a suite at every game. There's this fallacy attached to my family's lifestyle. I will never forget the day I was talking with one of my coworkers about the impending Thanksgiving game against Dallas. "So....he can get us plane tickets to Dallas, right?" Haha, my mind couldn't fathom the question I just heard. I almost consider it an insult, now. When did it become acceptable to ask someone for free stuff based on their career? I always joke that when I find out someone is a doctor, I don't think to ask for free health care. My husband's career should not be any different.

So while people assume I'm deciding which luxury car I'm going to drive today, I'll hop in my Hyundai and complain about how expensive my groceries are in California.