Meet Kijafa Vick. The wife of 15-year NFL Veteran QB, Michael Vick. But, this feature isn’t about Mike. We found out just how much of a powerhouse this woman is in a recent interview.
Sincere, gracious, genuine, intelligent, chic and classy AND that is to say the least. Mrs. Dionne Boldin, wife of Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Anquan Boldin, is more than what meets the eye. Dionne is as fabulous as she appears in her killa’ #selfies we see on social media with a timeless air of bold self-confidence. A wife first, mother to two boys second and a philanthropist third, who believes in not only leaving a legacy of giving but creating the mindset to give as well.
Name: Dionne Boldin
Husband/Teams: Anquan Boldin (Cardinals, Ravens, 49ers, Lions)
Children: Ashton (6) & Anquan “AJ” (12)
What #hashtag describes you best: #gamechanger
Favorite place to vacation: It’s a tie between Greece & Paris
Best Concert you’ve EVER been to: Beyonce
Interesting Fact about yourself: I’m Jamaican
Hobbies: Traveling & cooking
Your favorite memory: Giving birth to my boys
Where are you originally from and how did you get to where you are now?
DB: I am from Belgrade, FL, which is a little town in West Palm Beach County. We now live in Delray Beach, FL so we are still surrounded by our family. We chose to live near this area specifically early on so we could be closer to our family and create a home base, which was especially important to us as the kids got older.
How did you and your husband meet? What’s your love story?
DB: We met in high school. He is from Pahake (FL), a neighboring small town to the one where I grew up so we have always known each other and we met in probably 5th grade. I was a junior and he was a senior when we started dating in high school. After that, we both went to the same college, Florida State University.
ON THE NFL
What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?
DB: I like the platform it affords us. The ability to be able to walk into a scenario where you instantly have a platform for whatever your cause may be has always meant a lot to me. As a wife, there is a fine line between staying in a supportive role to your husband and positioning your platform in a way that you are grabbing the right audiences as well. Your presence, your behavior is important because people are always watching to see if you are going to screw up and that makes a difference as far as the type of “positioning” and respect you’ll garner. I have known my husband since he was very young so it has always been great to be able to see him live his dream. What I don’t like about it (and that’s the hard part because we knew what we signed up for)--I do miss having privacy. I miss being able to go anywhere and him not being noticed. I will say that I don’t like the scrutiny that the guys get. The fans can rip them apart for the smallest things and they are seen as“just athletes” when in reality, many of these men are fathers, husbands and genuinely good guys.
WR: What are some of your favorite fondest WAGS memories?
DB: I like the camaraderie. Every team has their own sense of camaraderie and there are always a few wives who will reach out to you when you first arrive. From team to team, I have picked up life-long friends. Whether we are out to dinner with the girls or at a game, those moments (the time spent together) are some of my favorite memories. Of course, Super Bowl year with the Ravens was another fond memory. My time in San Francisco was one of my favorite memories. In both Baltimore and San Francisco, I led the women's Bible studies. Being one of the “older girls” in the group, I enjoyed seeing the younger girls grow. I learned so much about each of these girls and really enjoyed pouring into them.
ON FASHION & STYLE
WR: Is fashion a hobby for you or a love? We’ve seen your Instagram looks and are impressed to say the least!
DB: I’ve kinda always loved fashion. Over the years, I have tried to switch it up and make my look different and fun. I went out on a limb last year and brought on a stylist. We have been working together for over a year so at this point, we are friends now and we’re just having fun! In my free time, we talk fashion and put looks together. At some point in my life, I will be in the fashion industry. Where? I don’t know. For now, I am building my budding personal shopping concierge service called The Art of Shopping.
WR: What are your favorite pieces and collections that you have been wearing recently?
DB: Everything Gucci is doing is really great right now.
WR: Any all time favorite designers?
DB: Hermes or Chanel, accessories wise. I like what St. Laurent has been doing the last few seasons. My favorite pieces are Jackets and Bombers and I like nice, structured blazers by Balmain.
WR: Don’t we all?...!
ON THE ANQUAN BOLDIN FOUNDATION & WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD
WR: Your foundation work and charitable contributions are nothing short of amazing! Tell us more?
DB: Thank you very much. We started the foundation in 2004 and originally it was just an opportunity to give however that may be. My husband and I both grew up in underprivileged areas and our thought was that we would create opportunities only for those communities. So that is what we have been doing every since we started. In each city where Anquan has played, we have tried to serve in whatever and wherever that city had its specific needs. About two years ago, we created an endowment: It’s a $1 million dollar scholarship in San Francisco and Palm Beach areas for students who academically deserve and have shown a commitment to community service. Our mindset has always been to give and share wherever there is a need but more specifically, we want to CREATE a mindset of givers as opposed to just leaving a legacy where we were the only ones giving.
WR: Has there been one particular charitable experience or individual story that you really valued?
DB: Yes and I definitely see the results. For example, we had one kid who was expelled from his high school. He later went back and got his GED so we gave him a scholarship and now he’s a teacher and started a mentoring program back home (in FL). You can really change lives and shift their perspective and anybody that has been helped, anyone I have poured into- I hope I have created a mindset that this is what YOU need to do as well. We also have a family in San Francisco right now where the mother was homeless with two boys. We put her in an apartment where all of her bills are paid for, for the next year. She’s now saving money, on track to support herself and I speak to her at least every other week making sure she is doing everything she “should” be doing. I like the building of the relationships as well. We aren’t helping you to leave you. Life is about relationships and serving. There are so many rich people in the world who are mentally poor.
WR: Your Husband was recently awarded the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. What type of impact has this had on you and your family?
DB: It’s impacted us in two ways. It has afforded us a platform to get our message out to a different group. This year as well as the year before he was nominated, we’ve seen such a jump in interest. I also like the notoriety of this award. The NFL finally displaying a positive light on the men enables me to appreciate the League for putting this award, front and center. There are so many guys doing the same kind of work who are as deserving. Secondly, we have been able to spend some personal time with the Payton Family. Growing up, Walter Payton was Anquan’s hero. They (The Paytons) are “who they say they are” and they are great people to be around.
WR: That is powerful. Shifting a bit as it’s wedding season and you have been married for over 10 years now. Every day, we see another picture of a beautiful bride. Before we wrap up, do you have any veteran marriage advice or tips for a newlywed?
DB: I have learned to prioritize one another and even before your kids. Prioritize your marriage and your spouse, which seems difficult when we have babies running around but putting kids in their place has helped us a lot. During the season, I do what’s uncomfortable for me and sometimes that requires me to do what’s not physically comfortable because I travel to every game. It gives us some time alone so I make it a priority. Keep people out of your business! That means not involving your girlfriends or your mother or father but keep your business at home. In the world of sports, there are a lot of insecurities floating around and rightfully so but, give your husband the opportunity to protect you.
WR: You seem like a lady who gets "it" all done! Tell us, what do you do in your home that no one else can do?
Written by Contributors, Angel Palacios & Grace Allen
Married to: Ricardo Allen, Falcons
Oh, for the love of camp. No, not your favorite summer camp, or “glamping" with your best girlfriends, but, the, ever anticipated FOOTBALL TRAINING CAMP. If you are anything like me, you feel as if those super anticipated four weeks off are going to magically last forever, and then before you know it, you're packing your mans belongings and sending him away for what you and I (and they) know will be a stress packed few weeks away from home. Saying goodbye to the man of the home is never easy, especially when the kiddos have to say goodbye to daddy too. With the recommendation of a fellow WAG, Angel and I have decided to collaborate to come up with a simplified “Camp Packing List” to make your life (and ours) a bit easier. Take what speaks to you, and leave the rest! Happy packing & happy football season!
1. His Bible (or other form of inspiration)
If your man is strong in his faith, don't let him leave home to face the stressors of training camp without The Word in his bag. To make it even easier on him (and to make it feel like you’re right there with him) use post-it notes, or somehow tab specific verses with notes along the lines of “read this when you need to be encouraged”, “read this when you are tired”, “read this when you need to be reminded of how valuable you are”, etc.
There is nothing like a photo to capture a memory, or to cause you to feel a certain emotion (just look at my instagram and you'll know immediately how much I cherish capturing everything in picture form:). Print off some of your favorite photos of the two of you, your family, pets, etc. There is a really cool feature with the Walgreens app that allows you to print off your Instagram photos in the perfect,little, Instagram squares (hello efficiency, simplicity and being able to fit more in a locker).
3. Epsom Salt
Lots of long and tiring hours in the heat and sun leads to sore and achy muscles. One of my favorite things to do for R is to run him an epsom salt bath. Sometimes, if I am feeling extra fancy, i’ll add a few drops of Lavender essential oil to help him relax his mind, as well as his body. My favorite brand is Dr. Teal’s, you can pick it up mostly anywhere, but I typically grab it at Target (because who doesn't want an excuse to make a Target run?:) Dr. Teal’s actually makes a bag that is infused with the lavender essential oil, so its a two for one deal!
If you have ever looked at the schedule for a day of camp, it is structured down to the minute, every minute, including meals. All of the energy that is exerted has to be replaced through food and beverages. I know that the Falcons have an amazing staff that prepares the guys fresh foods during the day, but I don’t quite know what happens at night as far as food and snacks are concerned (and I have a notorious nighttime snacker on my hands). I always send along a box of snacks that are high in protein and carbohydrates, as well as a few guilty pleasure favorites as well. Trail mix, beef jerky, almonds, pistachios, peanut butter pretzels are all great choices. 5. Lucky Items If your guy has any type of superstitious lucky items, don't forget to send them along! Im not going to name any names, but, I know a man that has an extensive collection of superhero socks….and you better believe that a pair, or two, will be making their way to Falcons training camp! xoxo, Grace Allen
Married to: Tevin Mitchel, Raiders
Hey y'all! It's that time of the year again! Season is right around the corner!!! I am praying for everyone's safety as we all head to different places and our hubby's head to camp. Can we all just agree that the month they have off is never quite long enough?!
Here's a picture of my babies at the Cincinnati Zoo saying goodbye before we head back to Texas during camp!
As much as we like to complain about them having to leave, Camp is by far one of the toughest sections of the entire season. So what can we do to help?
Pack or send them a fun basket!
1. The essentials
There is no doubt they forgot or lost AT LEAST one thing on this list, so sending these items is a must:
2. Family Pictures
Something to put in their locker for motivation, or even just to brighten their day!
3. Favorite Snacks
Of course they can't consume too much junk food, but hey a little pick me up snack never hurt anyone😊
My favorite thing to do is write down a list of bible verses that he can reflect on that can help give him a peace of mind even when I'm not around to do so!
A few weeks ago I graduated from the University of Miami with my Master’s in Business Administration. This is my 3rd degree. Yes I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but I’m what some people call a career student. I thrive on studying my days away, then complaining and counting down the days to freedom from homework, group projects and exams. I don’t know why I continue to torture myself but for some reason I keep going back. You would think that after earning my bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a master’s from Texas Tech in Mass Communications I would have had enough of school, but when an opportunity to pursue my MBA degree came along I couldn’t say no to the opportunity to complete more education. Executive MBA for Artist and Athletes:
The Executive MBA for Artist and Athletes at the University of Miami is a program designed to help professional athletes and their significant other or business partner earn their Master’s in Business Administration in an 18-month long program. The program is completed in six 2-week sessions during the offseason and three online classes during the season. To be honest I had no idea what to expect and I was nervous about doing the program since I was only one of two women joining the incoming class. I knew I would have my husband by my side and the classes would be challenging, but I wasn’t sure how a group of football players would be in the classroom. Upon starting class I quickly learned my classmates were a fun group of guys that were extremely focused and had a strong work ethic.
Perception Not Equal To Reality:
Being surrounded by such a driven group of individuals made me realize the media often portrays our guys in a negative light. All of my classmates were the complete opposite of how we often see football players characterized. The reality is most of them had established businesses and non-profits prior to joining the program and were working towards building legacies that would sustain their success well beyond football. Several of my classmates were and are some of the top players in the league and had reached what some would call the highest height of achievement by making it to the NFL, and yet they still chose to pursue higher education. These aren’t the images we often see so I’m glad I have this platform to show that these guys are more than just football players. They are great fathers, businessmen and leaders who continue to strive for more than the glory of the game and they deserve to be recognized for their contributions on and of the field.
Being in a class of football players I was reminded of how blessed I am to be a part of such a great league but the reality is the NFL is "not for long." The NFL has afforded many of us with the opportunity to build great networks and to travel and experience things that some people only dream of. Although the ride is often fun, it goes by so fast. I realized the best lesson that I can take away from completing the program didn’t come from my professors or my textbooks, but from the very men I sat next to every day. Their work ethic taught me to go after my passions and dreams, to keep learning and networking and to take advantage of all the resources this league has afforded my husband and I.
My husband is going into his sixth season and I must admit in the beginning of his career it felt like football would last forever. Now that we are much closer to retirement than we are to rookie season the reality has set in to enjoy it while it lasts but to also get prepared for the day when it will all be over. For many of us women this may be a little more difficult trying to juggle being a wife or a girlfriend, having families and being supportive to our men, but that’s ok. It’s never too late to start fresh just as long as you start. One of greatest gifts we can give everyone around us is to not give up on our dreams and goals no matter what. For some that means picking up that hobby or dream that was set aside temporarily, for others that means trying something new or challenging or maybe going back to school to earn a degree or two. Whatever it may be I strongly encourage you to take advantage of today. We do not know what tomorrow will bring but we have the ability and power to impact tomorrow by what we do today.
My MBA program taught me a lot about business but so much more about mastering life. Never stop learning, never stop growing and don’t be afraid to take risks. I hope my journey encourages you just a little to jump in head first and do whatever your hearts desire and if you're already doing so kudos to you!
For more information about Executive MBA for Artists and Athletes program feel free to email Jennifer at Jennifer@miamiemba2.com for more information.
"At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought, 'Why would they pick me? I just make chocolate-covered pretzels. It’s not anything glamorous." - Raven Thomas, The Painted Pretzel
There are entrepreneurs and then there are business savvy, mini-moguls who appear on Shark Tank, command the respect and business partnership of heavy hitters such as Mark Cuban and land a life changing --deal of a lifetime overnight. Meet Raven Thomas. She is all of these and much more. I had the pleasure of learning about the woman Behind The Brand. She is genuine, Godly, humble, the wife of retired NFL player Eric Thomas and mother to two young boys. Raven is the Founder and CEO of The Painted Pretzel. Haven’t heard of her genius business and delicious brand? Get acquainted and get motivated!
Name: Raven Thomas
Husband: Eric Thomas
Anniversary: June 24, 2000
Occupation: Entrepreneur (thepaintedpretzel.com)
Husband’s Tenure and Teams: Started with the Jaguars, Buccaneers
Children: Two. Jeremiah (10), Aaron (8)
Cities You've Lived in with NFL: Jacksonville and Tampa
Favorite place to visit: San Diego
Your first car: Ford Contour
Music on your playlist: Adele and old school music like LL Cool J. I have a mix of old and new
Hobbies: I like to workout/exercise! CrossFit, Orange Theory Fitness and running sprints are my speed!
Your favorite memory: The day I met my husband.
LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?
RT: I’m from Atlanta, Ga. I arrived in Arizona because of my husband’s work.
LM: How did you and your husband meet? What’s your love story?
RT: We met at a party our freshman year of college at FSU. We started talking because neither one of us were dancing and I wasn’t the type to have boyfriends. But he was different; we didn’t see each other again face to face for like a year. My friend used to be lab partners with another football player so I would have her spy in class. When they would do work, she would spy (on him). Fast forward to a few months later, we had a class together over the summer. Once we had that class together, the rest was history…that was 20 years ago.
ON THE NFL:
LM: What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?
RT: Well, we got married when we were 24 so we were young. A challenge for me was not being able to settle down in a way. We lived in Jacksonville but then we lived in Tampa. NFL sent him to NFL Europe and then he came back so it’s just very unstable. That part is hard. I ended up going back to school and getting my Masters but not when I wanted to because of the instability. When I did go back, I was flying back and forth. He wasn’t a superstar so it was more like “will he have a job next week?” and that part is also tough to deal with. It is stressful. He was in the NFL for two years and then he played (in the) arena league. He had a stable contract with arena and he was very good at that. Of course the fact still remains that one injury could cause you to lose your job. When Eric left the game, he left on his own. His transition was very easy in that he didn’t long to play anymore.
LM: What is one piece of advice you can give to other women that you wish you would have known prior to your husband playing in the league?
RT: Probably that it’s not what I expected. I don’t know what I expected but I know it wasn’t that. Expect the unexpected! For a few families it’s different, but for the masses it is not glamorous!
LM: Do you believe there are any misconceptions or stereotypes of NFL WAGS? If so, what is your view?
RT: Yes. I think that a lot of times WAGS are seen as gold diggers or just trying to “come up”, get a meal ticket or are in it for the glamour (of it all). I remember someone told me, “Oh, you came up.” That was funny because we’ve been together since he was on the bench at FSU. Sometimes that (“come up”) does happen but overall with most of the women I’ve met, that’s not the case. The other misconception is that these women live off their husbands which is also not true.
ON SHARK TANK:
Editor’s Notes: The Painted Pretzel partnered with Mark Cuban for $100,000 in return for 25% equity in the pretzel business. Result – The Painted Pretzel is selling in hundreds of stores and has partnered with Landmark Theaters thanks to Mark Cuban.
LM: Let’s talk about your business, The Painted Pretzel for a moment. Tell us how your idea came about and what the journey has been like?
RT: Well, it came about by me going to a spa. Clarification, my sister worked at a spa. The owner would make little snacks around holiday time (Thanksgiving, I believe) where she would have little chocolate-covered pretzels and candies but I recall thinking that she could do better than that. I also liked the idea of giving them as Christmas gifts because I was pregnant with my second child and didn’t want to spend any money on gifts. I did it and everyone liked them, like a lot! Because I am a perfectionist -I said to myself that I need a website (probably didn’t need one at the time) but, people started buying them and it started to grow from there. After that, I thought maybe I could sell them in a store so I took the pretzels to a candy convention in Chicago and I received really big orders from all these stores. It was never my plan to have a business.
LM: Talk about the Shark Tank experience and how that came about?
RT: I hadn’t seen the show before. My father-in-law watched it and suggested I watch it and try to get on the show. At first, I didn’t want to do it. I thought, “Why would they pick me? I just make chocolate-covered pretzels. It’s not anything glamorous.” I ended up sending in an email to the show explaining my business. I didn’t hear back for nearly a year. I had completely forgotten about even wanting to be on the show. One day, the casting director for Shark Tank called me to see if I was still interested. They had already made their choices for the season I applied to but they had saved my application. I almost thought it was a joke it was so random. I still had to send in my video because I hadn’t done that yet (I had only sent an email). My husband filmed me in our home kitchen. It was hilarious! To this day, I think they picked me because they said this girl cannot be serious. It was unedited. My husband filmed it on his way out the door- one take and that was it, we sent it in.
LM: What role does Mark Cuban play in your business and how has it been working with him?
RT: He’s not involved with the day-to-day operations of the business. He gave me money and if ever I need to contact him, I send him an email and he will respond really quickly. He has a million people who work for him (marketing etc.) so whatever you need; it’s readily available. At this point, most of our things are made at a huge candy factory. They’re not technically my staff but they make it for me. I have one person who really helps me with the day to day. I’m very hands on and I am a perfectionist so there is still a lot about our business that I like to oversee. Most of the manufacturing details, I hand off elsewhere.
LM: How did the Shark Tank episode affect your business?
RT: It’s funny because I made the deal in June but, my episode didn’t air until February. No one knew and I couldn’t tell anyone. For that period of time I ran my business as normal. Literally the moment after it aired, my business grew 1500%! I knew right when my segment aired because my sales jumped immediately! Just being on Shark Tank alone, my business grew. From there, it’s just continued to grow. I’ve been in over 6000 stores and before the show I was in all the Neiman Marcus stores. After, I was in TJ Maxx, Marshall’s and then doors opened to where I had to actually decline offers. I’ve been in movie theaters also! Before the show, I was getting turned away from some places. That part is shocking, really.
LM: It sounds like the show really catapulted your business!
RT: Being in front of millions of people changes things. Customers are calling, emailing and ordering. It wasn’t this beautiful, lovely thing. It was actually just chaos! It was wonderful and terrible at the same time because it was just so much to deal with. I think my episode is the most-aired on CNBC. I could not pay for that kind of publicity. People ask me, how do you get on? And I say “I don’t know.” During my season, somewhere around 34,000 people applied.
LM: What do you think makes you different?
RT: I think I’m just not afraid to fail. When I went on Shark Tank, I kept getting asked if I was nervous. The only moment I was nervous was when I walked down that long hallway when they call your name. I just didn’t want to fall! Once I got to my spot, I was fine. I did care if they gave me a deal but not to the point where it would change anything. For me, I’m not living by someone else’s standards. I’ve failed many times in business and I think that’s big. That is resilience.
LM: What’s one piece of advice you can give aspiring female entrepreneurs?
RT: Do not be afraid! If you have a dream birthed in your heart, go do it! You shouldn’t let it die there. Whether you are successful or not (and success should be defined by yourself) you should at least try! If you allow your dream to die, it’s like living a life unfulfilled.
LM: What would you like people to know about you?
RT: I’m just a regular girl who once I got started with my business-- I just couldn’t stop. I’ve attempted to stop before, but I felt like this was the path God had for me and everything I’m about is about Jesus. I live for Him on purpose but everything else is accident.
LM: What are your goals?
RT: At this point I’ve decided I just want to really enjoy life. I want to enjoy the things that are around me: family, business, and life in general. At times, I can get so busy that I don’t have time to enjoy anything else. I still work 65 hours per week in the business but I had to start shutting it down for at least a week around the holidays. It’s good to aspire to do and be more but that shouldn’t be your main focus. I’ve accomplished a lot already so I need to be able to step back and say job well done. My goals are to enjoy what I’ve done, enjoy our kids and not let the business be the center of my attention.
LM: What are you most proud of?
RT: I’m proud that I didn’t lock myself in a box (as of yet). I’ve been willing to go where and how I wanted to go instead of going along with how other people think I should. I think that takes a lot of courage. I started this business eight years ago and it was after my first year that I attended the candy show (in Chicago). When I was there, I heard “Oh, that’s a really cute idea” like I should try something else because my idea was silly. I heard that multiple times. I never let the negative talk change my mind or deter me. I just kept going. The arena league folded around the time I went to Chicago and when that happened my husband didn’t have a job but, we had money saved. This was a crossroad for us where I could either try to make it into retail stores and really make this into a business knowing my husband didn’t have a job or I could go get a job. I could’ve gotten a job – but that’s not where I was supposed to be.
LM: What are you passionate about?
RT: I’m most passionate about living a life that’s pleasing to God where people can see me and know what I stand for. I’m passionate about my family remaining focused on things of God. No matter what we have, what we’ve been given; being able to stay centered on Him is important. Through the ups and downs, neither has broken me because I stay focused on Him.
This week's WAG Feature Wednesday is with a woman who I found as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside: Melody Carr. Melody is the very awesome, Christ-centered, super mom of four and super wife to one handsome QB of a Husband, retired NFL Vet David Carr. Melody is the mother of three children with juvenile diabetes and a committed champion to helping to provide the healthiest lifestyle possible for her family while shedding light and love into a platform that she may not have prayed for but, God knew she was prepared for. PS: Don't believe in her superpowers? Check out her video below! Name: Melody Carr
Player/Team(s): David Carr/Houston Texans (#1 overall pick in 02'), Panthers, Niners and Giants
Kanye or Carrie Underwood? Carrie
Ice Cream or Potato Chips? Chips
Yoga or Spin? Spin
Manicure or Massage? Manicure
Interesting Fact: I am the nurse in my house. 3 out of 4 of my children are diabetic and David was just diagnosed as well so I am a Full-Time nurse. That’s all I’ve got for now!
Where are you originally from and how did you get to where are now?
I am from Bakersfield, CA and was born and raised here, David was too. We ended up back in Bakersfield because both of our families are here so when he retired; we wanted to come back home.
How did you meet your Husband?
We met in high school at a church “winter camp” and we started dating right away (like as in the next weekend when we got back home). Our first date was technically, Valentine's Day. How sweet is that? After high school, David went to Fresno State and I went to a community college nearby. We got married right away and six months later, we got pregnant so before you know it, I was working FT and being a mommy. Financial Aid doesn’t go but so far, you know?...!
Tell me about your day to day?
Having four kids and especially having three diabetic children there is always something randomly happening during my day. Today for instance, I had a Parent Teacher conference with my high school-er. My husband now owns two gyms here in Bakersfield and that is kinda his thing. He trains QBs out here so I am also at the gym a lot. I definitely spend my days “on call.”
What are your fondest WAGS memories?
Oh, my goodness. We were lucky to have been a part of several teams with some really good ladies. The NY Giants ladies were the sweetest! Every time the boys would go away to games, we made an effort to invite everyone to go out to dinner and it was the best experience for me. Anyone was welcome and everyone was welcome (girlfriends, fiancées, wives-all of us.) No one really understands what we are going through no matter how we share it with our family so their friendship during that time was very special to me.
What is the hardest part about being a NFL Wife?
Having kids is really difficult. I was taking them out of schools, finding a new house, finding an area that has good schools, locating new doctors, new sitters and new friends. This doesn’t even include talking about the friendships that you lose (while moving)! I learned about that right away during our first few years in Houston in training camp. I really enjoyed meeting all the new girls and was heartbroken a few weeks later when those same ones were gone. Luckily, the NFL is so small that you switch teams and run into old friends again so even though you are leaving it's always one big family. This was one of the primary reasons why we moved back to Bakersfield because we wanted to be near our family and our roots are here. So during the offseason we don’t have to move the children around as much. It ended up being such a blessing because “this” is home. When we lived other places during season the children treated it almost like a big vacation, which was pretty cool too.
What are you passionate about?
I always wanted to work with kids somehow and my original plan was to be a teacher but God had other plans. We were married young and got pregnant right away so my kids have been my primary focus. David and I are both very active in two youth groups where we live and it’s been the biggest blessing to me. We get to go on trips with the kids and it is such a great experience to be able to minister and just be there for them. Growing up, my youth pastor was my rock and I enjoy being able to be a friend and a mentor to our youth as my Pastor was for me growing up.
What do you admire most about your Husband?
You know, I admire that he’s always the same person. He’s a Godly, Christian man and that doesn’t change or waver so you are either on board with that or not but you know what you are going to get. I’m so thankful that my kids have such a Christian father in their lives. I hear stories from the parents of the kids we are working with in youth group about the impact he is having on their lives. David's brother Darren is the head coach for a local high school in Bakersfield (our hometown) so when Darren became head coach last football season, David jumped at the opportunity to help. David is the OC and what's great is our oldest son gets to play football for his dad and uncle. Coaching HS football takes a lot of patience but David is enjoying being able to mentor these young boys! As for me and the rest of my family, we are loving cheering for my son, David and their team under the big Friday night lights.
Being a Mom, so rewarding but filled with lots of surprises. Tell us about your motherhood journey?
Trying first to raise my now teenage boys correctly and by God’s word is already a struggle enough. With social media there are so many challenges now that we didn’t have to think about so I often ask myself, “do I allow my son to be on snap chat or do I read his texts?” But, each child is different and each accepts discipline differently so having learned that was helpful. Having diabetic children on top of everything else adds a whole new dynamic. Mr. & Mrs. McNair, (the owners of Houston Texans) helped us by funding a research for us (Editors Note: While David was in Houston, the Texans Foundation planned to donate $25,000 a year over the next three years for juvenile diabetes). This was so helpful in helping me to discover our platform. We can’t help but think that we are in this position to help others. We all know social media is one of those places that helps you to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise meet. There are days where I’m not at all trying to be inspirational about having had to stay up all night with one of our children who was not feeling well but the next day I will get messages from parents whose children are also diabetic.
What word describes how this makes you feel?
Grateful. Grateful is a good word to describe how I feel. One thing I noticed when David was at the Giants after we won the Super Bowl and out of all the people that were talking to us is that while everything was great, it actually wasn’t until David was released that people were vocal about their journey. They had been watching how we handled those (limelight) moments. These specifically, were the times that I felt most grateful to be in our very unique and special position where we can share our experience and bless people in our own way.
Well, now for something less rigorous; a fun question for you. Show us the answer to “I am the only one in my home who can ___!” Lights, Camera, Action:
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We have all heard the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses,” but for the NFL Family this can be very dangerous. One of the first things I tell my clients is “contrary to popular belief everyone in the NFL is not a millionaire.” Matter of fact, most players are not millionaires and most won’t ever be in that tax bracket solely based on their NFL contracts. From private flights to the infamous red bottom shoe wall, the stereotypical NFL life can be every family’s dream. Honestly, who wouldn’t want to fly private? No pesky security lines or stress of fitting your entire life into 50 pounds or less. But the reality is sometimes flying commercial now prevents you from being broke later. The Athlete
Immediately after players declare for the draft, they are propelled into a life of temptation. From expensive watches or loan advancements for new cars, the stereotypical NFL life seems to be a dream come true. Most players are instantly persuaded by agents, homeboys, family members and even some NFL teammates that they should live like a baller. The irony in this is that most of those influencers who push for the elaborate lifestyle would not be able to live the lifestyle without the generosity of the player.
For the athlete, the pressure to live a lavish lifestyle is very real. They must have the latest Jordan’s and designer brands including the famous Louis belt. Yes clothes, cars and bags are important but the true burden comes from nightlife spending. During the lockout, several players flocked to Miami to train but to also party. We have all heard of “Liv on Sunday,” and Liv was definitely aware of all of the NFL money that was in town. Players spending between $7,000 and $10,000 on a table every weekend was the norm, and complaining about it was simply unacceptable. No one cares about “how their accounts are set up.” If they are in the club, then they are buying tables because once they become a NFL player the expectation of high end living is the new standard.
The athlete isn’t the only one facing the pressures of living high. NFL wives are judged by their bags, shoes, cars and even eyelashes. Yes even eyelashes! From elaborate weddings and discussions about who has the biggest ring, the standards are high even if your accounts are low. Eyes are watching and unfortunately this is the downfall of a lot of NFL families. Wives aren’t the only ones who fall victim to the extravagant life, family members and homeboys who all of a sudden can no longer take care of themselves and assume the player is now responsible for their existence are some of the biggest culprits in perpetuating the bravado.
The truth is some players don’t learn that they can’t keep up with the Joneses until they are already knee deep in debt. Car payments, multiple mortgages, high credit card limits, and countless depreciating assets create unnecessary stress on both the athlete and the family. Someone who is making $500,000 a year can’t live the same lifestyle that someone who is making $10,000,000 a year without some pretty crafty investing. Unfortunately, I have witnessed it all from selling all they had to sending out mass texts to people they barely know asking for $20,000 loans.
The reality: Don’t let the time in the NFL be a waste. Become the Jones don’t try to keep up with them.
For more information on how to start a business or a nonprofit, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless
My recent interview with Linda Hope, a beautiful Dominicana born and raised in Miami, Florida, and wife of retired NFL probowler and 2011 Super Bowl champion Chris Hope, delivered perspective on how balancing life as a loving mom, driven entrepreneur, and caring wife is possible with intentionality and strategy.
When and where did you and Chris first meet? What is your greatest joy about being married? Chris and I met in Tallahassee, FL back in 2000. He was a junior at Florida State and I was a freshman at Florida A&M. At times, we laugh at our present. The reality that we are married with 2 kids is simply incredible to me. My greatest joy about being married is knowing that I married the man of my dreams and that he wanted to marry me back. That’s a blessing! So many people choose wrong or end up with someone just because they don’t want to be alone. I’m happy I listened to that small voice that assured me that one day he was going to be an incredible husband. I love knowing that I have a person to grow old with that loves me unconditionally. I also love the fact that I have a live-in comedian. My husband is so funny! There’s never a dull moment in our house. I will soon have two for the price of one because my daughter is taking after him.
What are you passionate about and what drives your desire to succeed?
I am passionate about people. Anything I can do to help people become their best self, I’m all in. Especially women. I truly enjoy empowering and motivating women to recognize the jewels that we truly are. I also love identifying solutions. Give me a problem and I will solve it. That’s one of the reasons I love designing. In design, we identify the need first, then provide a solution. I also enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures. I truly enjoy new experiences.
Outside of having a degree in Journalism, Linda is currently enrolled and obtaining her degree in Interior Design from the O'More College of Design in Franklin, Tennessee
When did you decide you wanted to pursue your dream as an interior designer? What inspired you to pursue this journey?
After having my daughter; before we decided to conceive, we discussed me staying at home with our first born for a few years. I believed at the time that staying at home was the perfect fit for my growing family and me. But, after staying home with Crislyn for about 6 months I soon realized that I missed working. I missed being in a professional environment. I needed to be mentally stimulated and away from baby babble for few hours a day. Right before I gave birth, I was actively working in the Real Estate field. I knew that I wanted to go back to work, but I also knew that if I had to choose between showing a house and spending time with my baby girl, Crislyn would win that battle every time. That’s when I realized that it was time for a career change. In that moment, I decided that if I was going back to work it had to be something that I really enjoyed doing. After praying for direction, God showed me Interior Design. Growing up, I was the one in my house that always moved the furniture around. I was in charge of giving our childhood home a face-lift from time to time. As a young adult, I never imagined earning an income doing something that seemed so fun.
How do you balance supporting your husband, taking care of your family and supporting/ chasing your own dreams?
With lots of prayer, a plan and help. A very wise friend told me after I had my second child and was feeling a little overwhelmed, “there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a little help.” And she was right! I welcomed more help and recognized that I could not do it all and remain sane. I also got more organized. I started managing my time better. You’d be amazed at how much more efficient you are with a plan and great time management skills.
So tell me about your career with Beautycounter?
Where do I begin!?!? I LOVE being a part of this amazing company. It has completely changed the way I see the beauty industry, an industry I fell in love with at a very young age. Based in Santa Monica, CA, Beautycounter is a disruptive brand with the mission to get safer skin care and cosmetics products into the hands of everyone. A B Corporation, Beautycounter has created unparalleled transparency and safety in the personal care industry—a severely under-regulated space. To top it off, our products are amazing! I use them all and love them. To me, Beautycounter is another vehicle that God has blessed me with to fulfill my life's mission to empower people to be their best self in every area of their life. What I love most about being a part of this incredible movement is connecting with amazing women all over the world that want to leave a better beauty legacy for our future generations.
What is your favorite Beautycounter product?
Hands down...Our Lustro Face Oil # 3! It's a beautiful blend of light weight pure plant based and essential oils that balances and moisturizes my skin. I love it!
Linda Hope, the picture of multi-faceted perfection!
This week’s WAG Feature Wednesday is an introduction to our newest platform, Behind The Brand. Our first brand we are highlighting is NFL Wife Handbook, an online blog that was founded by Mallory Brown, the very gracious with a heart of gold wife of NFL veteran, Donald Brown. Mallory and her business partner, Stacie are passionate about sharing their love for Christ with our NFL community and do so in such a motivating and refreshing way that showcases the strongest women in the game! To share your testimony or become featured on their blog; email: email@example.com. Who is Behind the Brand?
Mallory Brown is married to NFL veteran Donald Brown who has played in the league for 7+ years — Donald has played for the Indianapolis Colts, San Diego Chargers, & recently was added to the New England Patriots Roster. We have two energetic, beautiful, amazing little boys — Hudson, 3 years old and Piersen, 18 months old.
What is her brand?
Back in October of 2015, I was asked by another NFL wife to start a blog — ironically so as this was something I wanted to do a few years back, however I clearly heard God say “wait Mallory, it is not the right time." Sure enough when I got the nudge this past year, I realized God was merely affirming my vision from a few years back. “The NFL Wife Handbook" is merely a platform for NFL wives to share their stories. I view myself as “editor in chief” and love helping share these womens’ awesome testimonies. Stacie (my business partner) and I both felt it was FINALLY time for people to understand and comprehend the real livelihood of our husbands — better yet, the way we pursue the ups and downs of this league is by walking alongside Christ.
I would love for this blog to be a never-ending story. I pray 20+ years from now, I am still blessed with testimonies to share. The power of a wife/girlfriend’s voice in this league is huge — therefore why not hoist up your megaphone and give all the glory back to Jesus. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the NFL was known as a Christian organization with insanely talented football players? It is certainly ambitious to think this, however we are called to pray bold prayers, because we have an omnipresent, powerful God who serves us, and is merely waiting for us to ask Him to do BIG things.
What have you learned on your NFL journey?
My journey through the NFL has been nothing short of amazing. We have had many highs and lows, yet amongst all the inconsistencies Donald’s profession posseses we have loved every waking minute of it. To be truthfully honest, when Donald and I began dating, a few months into our courtship, he informed me of his future plans to pursue the NFL. When I heard those three letters “N-F-L” I immediately pulled back and planned on ending our relationship. I wasn't a football fanatic, and I “knew” enough about the character of these athletes that I certainly did not want to do life alongside one of "those" men. Shame on me for not realizing, Donald was and is so far from the typical stereotype.
Fast forward three years into our lives together (clearly we stayed together), we attended a Christian ministry retreat for NFL athletes and their significant others. It was here, (going on year 4) that our lives, and outlook in the NFL radically were changed for the better. We were invited by a former teammate of my husbands’ and in that week, we gave lives over to Christ. Years 1-3 of Donald’s career were wonderful, however we didn’t do life with God first in mind, rather ourselves. Years 4 and on, God has been the focal point for us as indviduals, as a married couple, as parents, as “missionaries” in our realm of work.
It has been the most insanely rewarding outlook for our each of us. It has made every high that much better, and every low more easily comprehended. I don’t view myself as a “WAG” but rather in a season of my life, where I am called to be His hands and feet to those around me. I understand the value of this platform we have been blessed with, and realize our time is limited to have such a noticeable voice. Therefore if I (alone or with other members of this league) can show the world that we are just regular, Christ-like individuals who are wanting to pave a highway for the Kingdom, then I have done my work with the role I am currently in — that of a “WAG”.
"Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken." -Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
NFL WAG Stats
Name: LeShonda Martin
Husband: Sherrod Martin
Husband is Rookie or Veteran: Vet! Sixth year (Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Chicago Bears)
Children: None yet
NFLWAG: almost 2 years (and counting)
Cities You've Lived in with NFL: Jacksonville
Off Season Home: Atlanta
Favorite Food: Oreo blizzard, Reese's, any dessert
Hobbies: Playing and coaching basketball, blogging, fitness, entertaining my dogs, reading
Interesting Facts: I was recruited to play Division I basketball; I played PG (point guard) in college; I lived in Bulgaria for three months
I also am automatically looked at in a different light after those three letters "N.F.L." are spoken. A woman who dates a professional athlete is surely only in it for the come up. A gold digger. I quickly learned why my then boyfriend did not like to reveal how he makes his living. Perception is reality and their reality is that what we had was fake. In reality, the only fake thing about our relationship was the fake people wanting to be friends. Harsh but true. People wanting to get close to us in order to attend a game or get a glimpse of the "lifestyle". Or my favorite, the women who wanted me to hook them up with the teammates. SIDEBAR: Can I just say that it never works that way? I am sure the wives of the NFL who have been married for years and have a successful relationship will tell you that they either did not know what their husband did (for a living) in the initial meeting, or they knew and rejected him for it. It was the wives who were chased, pursued, and ultimately caught by their husbands. Proverbs 18:22. Read it. He who finds a wife...not the other way around. Anyway, back to marriage...
I love marriage and enjoy being a wife. My husband is the best man I have ever met. Notice there were no disclaimers. I didn't say he is a good man for an athlete. He is a great man period. When we started dating, he made me feel like I was the only woman in the world. To this day, that has not changed. There are no skeletons in the closet or secrets between us. When we attended our premarital counseling, we were able to have some tough discussions about our past. My husband does not judge me or make me feel like less of a woman for mistakes and vice versa.
We laugh and have fun like high schoolers. We talk about the future and hang out like best friends. We brainstorm and exchange business ideas like partners. We have one another's back 100 percent like family. I pray that our relationship is testimony to the fact that God does exist. HE puts people in our lives for a reason. I whole-heartedly believe that HE sent me my husband. I prayed for it.
I am sure the wives of the NFL who have been married for years and have a successful relationship will tell you that they either did not know what their husband did (for a living) in the initial meeting, or they knew and rejected him for it." -LeShonda Martin
God first. Then my husband and me. That is the recipe to the success and joy of our family. There is freedom in a happy marriage. I am excited to share with you all a glimpse of my life and the lives of others in the NFL. PLEASE REFRAIN FROM POSTING NEGATIVE COMMENTS. Words have power and can either be used to build up or destroy.
I decided to share some of our wedding day photos in this post. Enjoy but please do not share without permission or giving credit. Thank you!