Athlete Transition Specialist Amber C. Edwards outlines where to access NFL development programs and details eligibility requirements. The information provided will assist players in setting goals for retirement and initial preparation for the 2021 NFL Lockout.
By: Diana Holmes
A drop of sweat trickles down a knit brow to the tip of the nose and slowly drops on the grass between a pair of shoes. Inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale. Huge, deep breaths to regain any sort of breath composure...That's me running after my son in the month of August because I'm out of shape. And you thought I was doing a clever, lyrical depiction of what my husband goes through at training camp, haha.
Training camp is one of the most physically and mentally exhausting parts of football season--for both player and family. So I decided to put a list together of things to do during this next month.
- Work Out! Stay sane and get those endorphins pumping with a nice workout. This one is tough for a lot of the moms out there because of the whole 'no babysitter' thing but even going for a run with the stroller can change your whole mentality. I usually go running when I'm having a bad day and it helps to clear my busy mind. In the famous words of Elle Woods, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't shoot their husbands, they just don't. " So there's that.
- Build Friendships. Admit it or not, we all morph into homebodies during the season. It seems like plans always get made and canceled because we don't get much time with our guys during season, so we try and capitalize on any we can get. Take training camp as an opportunity to build your friendships or make new ones. Dinner, wine tasting, play-dates--whatever!
- Work Towards A Goal. Set a goal for yourself to achieve. Plan to run a race at the end of the month, join a book club, or declutter your house. The options are really quite endless. You'll keep busy while working towards something that will empower your self-confidence.
- Support, Support, Support!I always get an attitude during camp because it's always frustrating. Andre is exhausted and never has much time to talk. If you're in the same state, you maybe see each other once a week--not to mention all the added stress they experience. It takes a toll on the relationship so this one is the hardest for me. Send care packages, inspirational quotes, Bible verses--anything helps.
Our significant others and their teammates will spend the next four weeks improving their skills and pushing themselves to better their craft. Why shouldn't we do the same?
Football fanatic families (say that 10 times fast) eat, sleep, and breath football...on purpose. My family does so by career-force, not by choice.
- 78% of NFL players are bankrupt or dealing with deep financial stress within two years of retirement
- Athletes will likely earn 70-90% of their lifetime earnings before age 35
- The average NFL career lasts 3.3 years
Don't those statistics just put you in a great mood? After seeing the numbers, it's no surprise that money has been one of the biggest arguments in our household. Especially with the added stress of such a generous amount of money coming in for such a short period of time--and everyone knowing about it. Money is one of the top five areas the average couple fights about, so take some time and evaluate your financial responsibilities. I wish I could take you back to high school and provide you with a fun, Cosmopolitan-esque quiz, but this will have to do...
Deception comes in many shapes and sizes and is one of the hardest things to deal with when money is involved. Salary, spending, giving, saving, etc. should all be discussed and talked about regularly. Omitting/hiding spending is a slippery slope that can end up hurting your partner and your family's future. Make sure to sit down with each other and discuss your spending boundaries and habits.
- Have you and your spouse made and maintained a budget?
- Do you hide or omit spending from your significant other?
- Do either of you make big, financial decisions without discussing it first?
Having a relationship with your financial adviser is crucial in maintaining a healthy financial status. Monitoring your monthly statements ensures your money is being properly handled.
- Where is your money being allocated?
- Does your financial adviser have POA (Power of Attorney)?
- What are you paying your adviser each year?
Buying things we can't afford is an American tradition. Break the cycle by making smart decisions. Plan out your debt-free goals and also your expectations on how to achieve those goals.
- What's your family's collective debt?
- How much are you spending on interest for things you could pay off now?
- What's your credit score and are you monitoring and maintaining it?
Giving or Lending
This is usually the hardest financial area to compromise on within a relationship. Attempt to keep open communication with your partner on your thoughts and feelings when it comes to giving out money. Make sure you map out how you, as a couple, will handle people when they come to you for money.
- Are people taking advantage of you and your financial situation?
- Do they expect you to give/lend them money (it's never fair for someone to make you feel guilty for their own situation)?
- Are they living above their means(cable packages, dining out, phone plans, etc.)?
I realize these topics can get heated and have a lot of emotion behind them. My hope is that the discussion of finances doesn't overwhelm you but actually empower you to take control of your future.
By: Jacqui Butler
Keep these verses in a safe place to reference during training camp, preseason and beyond!
"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer" -Romans 12:12
This is my favorite verse for this season of our lives because it covers all the bases! Maintaining a positive outlook for our men is imperative. Our patience when the conversations are short or when frustration sets in is huge. Above all -Prayer, Prayer, Prayer! -is needed, faithfully covering their bodies, minds and spirits.
"Each of you should use whatever gift you have to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms." -1 Peter 4:10
As a busy wife and mom, sometimes it feels like I serve others all day long! But this verse reminds me to REALLY serve them; it pushes me to make sure I’m remembering to personally demonstrate things like faith and forgiveness every day. Whether you have children or don’t, whatever you’re doing, whatever your talents are, God can use it to encourage someone, inspire them or at the very least spark curiosity about God’s hand on their lives!
"The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down." -Proverbs 14:1
This is a reminder that you have such POWER!! There is power in your actions, attitudes, and your words. Make sure you are building up your men, building up your children, and don’t forget to build up yourself!
Down to Earth, gorgeous, ambitious, genuine; ½ of a dynamic duo is Katie Levitre; former sideline reporter, Bills cheerleader and wife of Andy Levitre, offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons. If you haven’t met Katie, then you are in for a real treat as we chatted about everything from how she met her husband (“love at 2nd sight”) to what she is passionate about (hint, her family and empowering other NFL WAGS).
Name: Katie Levitre
Husband/Team(s): Andy Levitre/ Atlanta Falcons (formerly the Tennessee Titans & Buffalo Bills)
What #hashtag describes you best?
"A large percentage of us don’t work outside of the home because of how much we move, so we don’t have something outside of marriage and children to call our own. I am definitely lucky that Andy always goes out of his way to make sure I am comfortable and made to feel just as important as he is, regardless of the situation. Having someone like him as my husband can make this hard transition a lot easier. I have always been a career driven, independent woman and Andy still treats me like one." Katie Levitre
Who is Katie? Where are you originally from and how did you get to where are now?
I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. Since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to be a journalist, specifically a broadcast journalist. I am passionate about writing and speaking and have always been comfortable performing in front of large groups of people. I graduated #1 in my journalism class from Buffalo State College and immediately pursued my career. I started with an internship at the local NBC station then freelanced for an entertainment website run by the Buffalo News. I moved on to sideline reporting for Time Warner Sports for a year. In early 2013 I was up for a full-time reporting job at one of the top 3 news stations at the same time Andy was ready to move back to California for his first off-season as a free agent. When he asked me to move with him, I had to make a decision that I knew would affect the rest of my life. I was deciding between love and my career. I knew the NFL lifestyle wouldn’t be conducive to my life as a journalist. In the end I know I made the right decision by choosing Andy. It’s easy to think about what life could have been if I had chosen to follow my dreams, but no part of me regrets my decision. If I had to do it all again, I would choose love every time.
How did you meet your Husband?
Andy and I met at a children’s toy drive hosted by the Buffalo Bills. It was his rookie year playing Left Guard for the Bills and my rookie year as a Buffalo Bills cheerleader. We spoke briefly at the event but there was no romantic spark (and thank God, or I would have been kicked off the squad!). Two years after we met, he walked into the bar I was bartending at in college and we both got that butterflies in the tummy, hearts in the eyes feeling. We think of it like love at second sight. There is something so beautiful about timing. We were both in such a stable place when we met the second time around, it was almost as if fate wanted us to wait a little while to really find our soul mate.
Tell us about your day to day?
I am a big spin fan! They have a great place in Atlanta here called Flywheel and the instructors are amazing. I finally understand what people mean when they say they get “addicted” to a workout. After spin, I run a lot of errands and take care of our house(s). I am a dedicated mommy to two French Bulldogs and as anyone with a Frenchie knows, they are quite high maintenance! I also love to cook, which you can imagine is quite enticing to an Offensive Lineman! ;)
What’s your game plan when adjusting to a new city?
I am in the process of trying to downsize everything! Andy and I have lived in 4 states in the past 3 years. My usual game plan was to pack 3,000 bags and hope I had enough. But now I am trying to get rid of things I don’t need so I can alleviate some stress when we go back and forth to our home in California during the off-season. When it comes to making new friends and feeling at home in a new city, it definitively isn’t always easy. Each football city has been totally different for us. I remember my first year dating Andy in Buffalo, some of the veteran’s wives told me that they don’t give new girls or girlfriends the time of day because they don’t know whether they’re going to be around for long. I remember thinking how sad that was! But, now I sort of get it. I will ALWAYS be welcoming and kind to new people but it can be so hard to find friends that you absolutely love only to have one of you leave the next year. In a sense it’s like starting your social life over from scratch every year, not to mention if you’re like us and live in another state in the off-season. Sometimes you just have to take it one day at a time and do your best to make this crazy life feel normal. I’ve been blessed to meet some really incredible people along the way.
What are some of the challenges of being married to an NFL player and what do you like about it?
I think when some people find out you’re married to a man in the NFL they automatically think your husband must be cheating or constantly followed around by women. It may be true for a small portion of the league but for the majority of us- that is definitely not the case. To be honest, its not the women at all- it’s the grown men that are big football fans!! Haha! I joke that I could be standing next to Andy naked and if a guy finds out he plays football they wouldn’t even notice me! In all seriousness though, it can be easy to feel like you’ve lost a big part of your identity. A large percentage of us don’t work outside of the home because of how much we move, so we don’t have something outside of marriage and children to call our own. I am definitely lucky that Andy always goes out of his way to make sure I am comfortable and made to feel just as important as he is, regardless of the situation. Having someone like him as my husband can make this hard transition a lot easier. I have always been a career driven, independent woman and Andy still treats me like one.
What are you passionate about?
My family is my greatest love. I love being a wife, a dog mom, a daughter, sister & daughter-in-law. There is nothing more important to me than the people who surround me. Something else I’ve been passionate about lately is giving not only myself, but also every woman in the NFL a chance to stand on her own. I want to be known as Katie Levitre, not “Andy’s Levitre’s wife” or “the football player’s wife” and I know other women feel the same. Solely identifying as someone’s wife or someone’s mother is not AT ALL a bad thing, but I want to give women a chance to have something outside of the home to call their own if that is what they want. People outside of professional sports don’t understand that its not glitz and glam; women have to leave their families, friends, homes and careers to support their significant others. In every city and on every team we’ve been on at least 5 women have told me that they wish they could work but “no one wants to hire someone for 5 months of the year.” So, I’m making moves to try to change that. I recently spoke with someone from the NFLPA about helping women find companies that would be interested in hiring us in the cities we live in during the season. After all, we are a league full of intelligent, hardworking and mature women!
Tell us about your babies, the bulldogs!
Awww, my babies! They are amazing! I got Titan right after Andy got signed with Tennessee, hence the name. We had to find a dog that could travel in a plane with us and Andy and I both didn’t want anything too fluffy. We were deciding between a French Bulldog and a Pug- until we heard that pugs eyes can pop out when they get too excited! We found Titan (who is blue with tan paws and a white chest) in Dallas. Four months later, I had puppy fever all over again and Andy surprised me for Christmas with a little black and tan Frenchie puppy. I always wanted to name a little girl Olive, but Andy wasn’t in to naming a human baby after a food- haha! So, my little black puppy became my Olive. They are my only children for now and I spoil them accordingly!
Love it! Now for something a little less rigorous; a fun question for you:
What do you do in your home that no one else can do? Lights, Camera, Action!
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 email@example.com.
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless
Playing in the NFL is a dream for many but only attained by few. It is a small fraternity of men and their families that are connected forever. The NFL launched the NFL Families initiative that not only focused on active players but former players as well, and how they defined FAMILY. It’s more than adorable Dad-Do commercials and invigorating ads, the NFL Family initiative is bridging that gap between the images of fantasy players to seeing players as real people too! Part of this initiative includes the NFL Player Engagement (NFLPE) which focuses on three themes: Prep, Life, and Next.
NFL Prep is for high school and college student-athletes of all sports, and provides them with tools to help them succeed in life, focused on awareness, prevention, and education. NFL Life provides active NFL players with professional and personal development resources, “while supporting and educating players’ families to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to them by their NFL experience.” NFL Next Legends “serve, equip, and empower former players and their families during the transition from their NFL experience and throughout their lives.” See www.nflplayerengagement.com for more information.
Many players have taken advantage of the various resources available through the NFL Player Engagement. However, there are some players who are completely unaware of the benefits of these resources during their career and in planning for their post-NFL career. From coaching boot camps to personal finance workshops, the Player Engagement programs prove to be worth it. Some programs are even open to spouses. See below for some of the programs scheduled for this year:
This program will take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida offering a relaxed learning environment for current and former players and their significant others. This year’s program will provide participants the opportunity to acquire knowledge that directly relates to their finances and lifestyles. Education will be provided by TD Ameritrade and the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration.
NFL BOOT CAMP SPORTS JOURNALISM & RADIO: April 14th-17th, 2016
Sports Journalism and Radio Boot Camp will take place at Bowling Green State University. This boot camp provides the opportunity for current and former players to enhance their writing skills, build journalism and radio portfolios, and receive on-site feedback and mentoring from ESPN Radio, Westwood One, and Bowling Green faculty. Following the completion of this boot camp, qualified candidates may have the opportunity to participate on ESPN Radio.
The NFL Advanced Broadcast Boot Camp takes place in Mt. Laurel, NJ at NFL Films and is open to those who have completed Broadcasting Boot Camp. This provides the opportunity to build on the foundation from previous training and strengthen broadcasting skills. This program provides increased knowledge and follow through with more possible job opportunities and internships.
This year Player Engagement celebrates the 10th annual Broadcasting Boot Camp. Broadcasting Boot Camp provides players on-set training in broadcasting to build experience and determine interests. Players can explore multiple on-air job functions in television/media. Key learnings include: Tape study, show preparation, field reporting, and production meetings.
Providing talented minority coaches an opportunity to observe and participate during NFL OTA’s, mini and training camp and assist them in gaining experience to pursue a full-time NFL coaching position.
In this site, you will find information about your benefits as an NFL player. These benefits protect you while you play, help ease the transition to life and work after football, and provide a base upon which to build for your retirement. We believe that, overall, these benefits are the best available in professional sports. https://www.mygoalline.com/
All Pro Dads
Our message will inspire you to embrace who you are, give you tenderness of heart, and boldness of character as a dad and husband. We are consistently here for you to provide guidance and practical tips in raising your kids in a life giving way. http://www.allprodad.com/
The NFL Foundation is the league’s nonprofit organization representing the 32 NFL clubs. Its mission is to support the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football and the communities which support our game. http://www.nflfoundation.org/
Professional Football Wives Association
The Professional Football Wives Association (PFWA) was founded on a mission comprised of three basic tenets: Faith, Family and Football. PFWA's mission is to be a faith based organization that promotes unity and friendship among football wives, fiancées, and girlfriends, that positively redefines the stereotypes of NFL families, and that serves as a support system for women of the NFL. http://www.profootballwives.org
Don’t see a program you like? Contact the NFL Player Engagement office at www.nflplayerengagement.com for more information.
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” - Benjamin Franklin
For more information email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org!
Tenisha Patterson Brown, Esq.
Forever Fierce, Fabulous & Flawless
Facebook: Tenisha Patterson Brown
[embed]https://youtu.be/jmxw4K3w4N4[/embed] Aside from the fact these high school athletes are catching lobbed balls without coverage while professional receivers deal with skin-splitting bullets and double coverage, gloves don't make a player. Men were actually commenting on this video that they could have played college ball with the addition of these gloves. Mhmm, okay.
Yes, these gloves are helpful. Yes, players did not have these advances decades ago. Just because technology advances, doesn't mean the NFL should remain archaic. Although there's humor and sarcasm in this video, I find myself reflecting on this innate obsession sports fanatics have to continually question and downgrade the athleticism and talent of these men.
The pure hatred posted by 'fans' is nothing short of annoying. My husband stopped going on Twitter for the sole purpose of avoiding negativity. As WAGS, we have seen our fair share of hate comments about our husbands. "Cut him! I could do a better job!" is my personal favorite. Most of us try our best to steer clear of the haters but it can be difficult. So I've written an open letter to fans currently suffering from delusions of football grandeur.
An Open Letter to Fans
To Anyone Who Thinks They Could Play in the NFL,
Like most NFL players, my husband comes home from games bruised and barely mobile, yet he has one day to get it together, be on the field and perform. You have sadly mistaken 'game-ready' for pristine condition.
Could you perform 100-percent at your job with the flu, dislocated fingers, a thrown-out back, or all of the above? Absolutely not. You would call in. But there are no sick days in the NFL. If you want to miss a full day of practice, you are looking at roughly $17,000 in fines. That fumble or missed block you witness may very well be due to the ailments these men are gritting their teeth through. Gritting through because they are pack mules.
These men don't have a choice to sit out. At this office, if you want to stay home and heal, you'll be replaced.
You could never do this job. With fractured bones and all feeling lost in your fingers, could you hold onto the ball or hold off a 300-pound man? No. The fact is, if you could do this job, you would be. Only 1.5-percent of NCAA football players make it to the NFL. The chances that you are one of those 1.5-percent and opted out of the NFL are very unlikely. Instead, you're sitting at home eating Cheetos and commenting on my husband's ability. Until you have played in the league and know what each player goes through, please stop.
If you still think you would do a better job, please let me know when you've scheduled your team tryout. I would love to come watch your amazing ability. I'll bring my husband's gloves.
This week's WAG Feature Wednesday is with Geeta Bishop, the amazingly talented and intelligent wife of NFL Super Bowl XLV Champ, Desmond Bishop. Geeta and I connected because of our similar entrepreneurial mission (which we discuss in the interview). She is the creator of The Better Half, a Wisconsin-based talkshow featuring the better halves of the Green Bay Packers. She also wrote and self-published a book with her husband called Life Actually. The two recently had a son and we have plenty of adorable photos to share! Look out for Geeta and all her big plans for the WAGS community. Read the interview below...
NFL WAG Stats
Name: Geeta Bishop
Husband: Desmond Bishop
Husband is Active or Retired: Active
Tenure in the NFL and Teams: This will be our 9th year. Drafted to the Packers (6 years), Vikings, Cardinals, 49ers
Children: Son, Desmond II (15 months)
Favorite Food: A really good salad!
Music on your playlist right now: I’m really into Priyanka Chopra who is the star of Quantico. She was Miss World 10 years ago and is a huge Bollywood star.
Hobbies: I don’t really have time for hobbies at the moment.
Interesting Facts: I’m the first in my family to marry outside of my race.
"I’ll do whatever it takes to allow him to live his dream because he’ll do whatever it takes to allow me to live my dream." - Geeta Bishop, NFL wife
LM: I started reading your book Life Actuallyso I'm learning of your upbringing. Tell the readers where you’re from and a little about your childhood.
GB: I’m from California. I was raised in a super strict and sheltered household where you had to get straight As or you would be in trouble. My parents were immigrants from India so their life goal was to make sure their children went to great schools and were successful. My siblings and I all went to UC Berkeley. I was President of my high school class and so were my brothers. My siblings and I were all Rally Commissioners. I didn’t even date anyone until I met Desmond. I liked other guys before him but I was scared to date.
For several years, I was super secretive about who I was dating. For one, it wasn't ideal that he played football. There's such a stigma that athletes are bad. What you see in the media is that these athletes are not good guys. It took a long long time for my family to see where I was coming from and who Desmond was. They wanted me to marry a nice Indian guy who understood the culture. It took them a long time but eventually they came around and now they love Desmond! You can’t meet Desmond and not love him. He’s seriously one of the greatest human beings alive. He’s the best dad!
LM: Give us the details on how you and Desmond met.
GB: We attended the same high school in California and met the last day of our senior year. He had seen me at the Senior Award banquet the night before and saw that I had received numerous awards and scholarships. He approached me and said, “Can I shake your hand because you had a lot of awards last night?” I responded, "Do you play basketball or something?" because he was so tall. He told me he played football. After we exchanged a few words, I told my friend, "I think that guy likes me" and she responded, "There’s no way he likes you. He's a big time football player. He's like famous.” I dropped it and didn't think about it any further.
At graduation, we ended up sitting next to each other because of our last names. After graduation, I went to grad night and he went too. Every time I turned around he was right there! He kept trying to talk to me so I finally said, “I’m sorry but I’m going to Berkely. I’m not interested.”He even had his friend try on his behalf: "Give my guy a chance. He really likes you." The funny part about this was that the friend who approached me used to bully me in junior high. I thought, "Desmond hangs out with this guy? There's no way I'm talking to him." I told his friend, “Tell him to come talk to me himself.”
When Desmond approached me, I repeated the same story: “I’m just not interested in dating guys.” I was really focused on my future at Berkeley.
He went on a search to find my phone number. I found out that my best friend gave given him my number. She was in our wedding. I was so mad at her at the time for giving him my number and she said, “Why? He has a girlfriend!” I called him and said I would tell his girlfriend. He pleaded with me and said they were no longer dating. After I heard that I never wanted to speak to him or have anything to do with him again.
Fast forward to the summer. I was taking summer classes to prepare for Berkeley and he was in the same class to make up credits. I would see him everyday but not talk to him. Then he started handing me poems everyday. One day, he handed me a CD and told me to listen to it. It was a song he made called "Someone To Love" and it ended up being our first dance song at our wedding. After that, we started talking and eventually dating.
To this day, we have a running joke about how we met. He claims I was into him first but everyone knows it was the other way around!
Read Geeta's interview with Pro Players Insider here.
LM: You're a new mom! How has motherhood changed you?
GB: Man. I can’t even look at the world the same anymore. I worry, love and care so much about this little human that has barely said words. It’s difficult to explain in words how we feel about this little boy. We had a tough time gtting pregnant and I had a miscarriage previously so we consider him our angel! There’s nothing better than being a parent.
LM: Talk about your mission as an entrepreneur?
GB: My mission as an entrepreneur has always been to do right by others. Why not feel good about what you’re doing and empower each other to be better! Imagine if all the women in the world supported one another rather than acting as competition. Instead of adopting the attitude "I'm better than you" or "I created this therefore I know more than you," how about supporting each other? Indian women have reached out to me because I married an African American man. It’s a tough road in our culture to date outside of our race. They'll message me about that and ask for advice. The clothing line I’m in the process of creating, Mini Me, will donate 50% of the profits to charity. It’s not about the money. Everything I do is based on empowering others.
LM: What is the most satisfying thing you have accomplished to date?
GB: My son! He's everything! He's my husband and I combined.
LM: What has been the most challenging part of being an NFL wife?
GB: I think the most challenging aspect is moving so much and not having stability in where we go, the unknown. That doesn't outweigh the greatness you feel when your husband is living his dream! Desmond is living his dream. I’ll do whatever it takes to allow him to live his dream, because he’ll do whatever it takes to allow me to live my dream.
LM: What about being an NFL wife gives you a life perspective unique to other women?
GB: My answer is two-fold. It’s different because we do have to allow our guys to put something before us in a lot of ways. I remember to this day that Desmond had a game when I miscarried. He didn’t have to but I wanted him to go to the game! There was nothing for him to do at home; I could handle it. Women are strong enough to handle any challenges God puts in our path.
At the same time we’re normal, we’re frugal, and we want to do what’s best for our kids. We’re different but we’re the same. You have to be selfless in many ways. That’s why you have to rely on the women. You have to rely on the other NFL women to be there.
LM: What do you hope will come out of your experience as an NFL wife?
GB: There’s nothing I hope will come out of my experience. I just really try to support my husband. That in itself is huge. Most people don’t even get to the professional level. My husband has been playing almost a decade.
LM: Tell us about any upcoming projects you have.
GB: I’m working on taking my show The Better Half national. I’m in the process of developing my clothing line Mini Me. We also have a burger spot we’re trying to open in San Francisco. My husband grew up in Bayview Hunters Point, a lower income area that is becoming gentrified. We’re taking it upon ourselves to give something great back to the area.
I’m also really into making my own products. I'm Indian so I have many home remedies. For example, my son had an ear infection one time and I didn’t want to give him the ear infection medicine because I have read bad things about it. My mother told me to fry garlic with mustard oil, let it cool, and put it in my son’s ear. I followed her instructions and when we returned to the doctor a couple days later, the ear infection was gone. This inspired me so much! I want to create products like organic diapers and shampoos (similar to The Honest Company). These are just things I enjoy doing.
LM: Where can the people find out more about you/follow you
GB: You can follow me on Instagram @geetacb or Twitter @geeta_c
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.
This week's WAG Feature Wednesday is of the beautiful, smart, and funny Amber Miller. Amber was a personal training client of mine last year but we have kept in contact since, sharing similar interests in staying fit and supporting our NFL-playing men. Amber and I used the interview as a chance to grab a bite to eat and chat in her new home! Read what this Southern bride-to-be and high school teacher had to say about career and football life below...
NFL WAG Stats
Name: Amber Miller
Fiancé: Kevin Cone
Fiance is Rookie or Veteran: Going into his 5th season [Falcons, Dolphins (pre season), Arizona (pre season), Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Dolphins (pre season), Currently in CFL (Winnipeg Blue Bombers)]
NFLWAG: Going on 5 years
Cities You've Lived in with NFL: I've never moved.
Off Season Home: Atlanta
Favorite Food: Macaroni and Cheese is my favorite dish and lemon peels.
Music on your iTunes: I don’t have iTunes. I don’t listen to music besides Sirius XM. Right now it's on The Heat (Hip Hop). It’s nice to listen to trap music on the way to your professional job.
Hobbies: I love to paint and read. Generally, I use acrylic paint on canvas. I’m reading Charlaine Harris currently.
Interesting Facts: I was the first person in my family to graduate from college (Georgia Southern) and get a Master’s (UGA). I have a MAT in Science Education. I currently teach Biology to Freshman and APES (AP Environmental Science) to Juniors and Seniors.
Oftentimes, people want to define you based on what your significant other does. You can’t define me by someone else’s merit. - Amber Miller, NFL Fiancee
LM: Where are you from originally and how did you get to where you are now?
AM: I was born in Decatur, Ga but was raised mainly in Stone Mountain, Ga. I got to where I am now through hard work and tears. I had to figure it all out by myself being a first generation college student. After I graduated from college, I moved back with my parents and worked at Home Depot in the electrical department. I would cut your wire and teach you how to install 3-way light fixtures. Then I realized that wasn't exactly what I wanted in life. I always felt most comfortable and safe at school. I attributed that to my teachers because they always made me feel special. Eventually, I arrived at the idea of teaching so I applied to UGA. I graduated from UGA in May 2011 and I've been teaching ever since.
LM: How did you and Kevin meet?
AM: [Laughs]. My sister and his sister are best friends. The first time we met, we went to the Stone Mountain laser show with our sisters. Ironically, our parents live in the same neighborhood but I didn’t meet him until my first year at UGA. Growing up, Kevin attended private school and I went to public school so I didn’t know he existed. My mom didn’t really let us leave the house so I wouldn’t have met neighborhood friends.
When we did finally meet, he had a girlfriend but I wasn't feeling him like that anyway. When he graduated from Georgia Tech, he invited me to his graduation party since we lived in the same neighborhood. We connected at his party and exchanged numbers afterward. I should mention here that things didn't work out with his girlfriend. I was still in school at that time and Kevin would be at home working out and training. He cooked lunch for me almost daily. I would walk to his house, eat, then go to school (UGA). That's how you get me! You get me with food. We really started off as friends because I like to eat. No romantic situation there. It progressed from there.
LM: How long have you and Kevin been together?
AM: Officially since August 9, 2011.
I read somewhere that the top occupation for NFL women is teachers.
LM: You are recently engaged! Congratulations! How did he propose?
AM: Well, the trip started off simple enough. We had planned to go to Niagara Falls, Canada for a long weekend before I had to start my summer Gifted Endorsement. I flew to Cleveland (where he was playing at the time) and we drove to Niagara Falls from there. SIDENOTE: Who knew it was so close! We got there and had a great first night sightseeing.
The second day we woke up early, drove across the border back to the states (New York) to do the Maid of the Mist boat tour. It was amazing, beautiful, wonderful, great...all those nice words. We drove back across the border to Canada afterward and I was ready for a nap. Turns out Kevin had made plans for lunch so instead of a nap I had to shower and change clothes (we were soaking wet from the Falls). We went to Skylon, a rotating tower similar to the Sun Dial here in Atlanta, and had a great lunch. Okay, so now I'm tired from the boat trip and from a huge lunch. I need a nap! As we're leaving, Kevin insists that we need to keep sightseeing instead of napping, as to not have a wasted trip. I reluctantly walked with him back to the Falls and I am semi-angry the entire way- full, hot, and miserable. We get to the sidewalk near the Falls and I proceed to get my tourist on, taking photos and enjoying the scenery- not paying Kevin any attention.
He calls my name and I respond without looking. He calls me again, so with my attitude (like we discussed earlier) I swivel around and say, "WHAT?!"...and there he is on his knee. Honestly, I thought he was tying his shoe so I turned back around. He gets me to look at him again and there he is with a little box. I didn't know what was going on for a second and then it hit me. Accompanied by some lovely words, he asks me to marry him. I'd completely blocked out all of the other tourists and people around; I swear the world was muffled for that moment. I could hear my heartbeating so rapidly.
Talk about speechless! All I could do was hug him and eventually got out the word, "YES!" The crowd went wild, and people were clapping and cheering.
I later found out he was walking around with the ring box in his sock (since lunch), and hired a photographer to follow us around and take pictures! Yes, the photog has pics of me being grumpy! We immediately took some professional engagement photos in a nice park across the street from the Falls. After the photos, we walked back to the hotel where I was finally able to take my nap! It was so unexpected as we said we would talk about marriage AFTER football. What I envisioned as just a nice weekend getaway turned out to be something super special that I'll never forget .
LM: Wow! What a great story! That attitude is too funny. I'm sure many women can relate. Sounds like a magical weekend. Let's get into what your days are like in Georgia. What is a typical day like for you?
AM: I wake up at about 6:30 a.m., play with my cat Sheldon for five minutes, get ready for work, and go to work. I have five classes (30-ish students in each class). From there it's Ms. Miller and serious face. School gets out at 3:30 p.m. and I’m not done yet. There’s always some sort of meeting after school related to my students or emails from parents and colleagues. There’s always something for me to do. I get to school early and I always stay late. I’m always there 2 to 2 1/2 hours more than I’m contracted to be. If I don’t work those extra hours, I’ll be behind and the kids won’t get what they need. That’s not fair. I’m there for the kids! Outside of school, I have meetings with students and parents, grade papers, make copies, and set up lab. I may spend 30 minutes to an hour daily grading papers. I get emails through the weekend. Parents will email me at 11:30 p.m. and all kinds of crazy hours. This semester I have 161 students. It’s stressful sometimes because you have to be cordial to everyone no matter what. I read somewhere that the top occupation for NFL women is teachers. I thought that was interesting because I don’t see teachers and football going together. They don’t match.
LM: You two recently moved into your new home. Congratulations! What were some of the factors you both weighed when deciding where to live?
AM: We want to have kids within the next two years so we looked into good school systems, enough bedrooms, and an area with low crime. I was living downtown in Vine City and that's one of Atlanta's high crime areas. I recently got a new teaching job so our new house is close to my job and in a good area.
LM: What are the pros and cons of being engaged to an NFL player?
AM: Cons right now would be the distance. I live here in Georgia and he’s in Winnipeg, Canada right now but he could be anywhere. The pros would be…I think it’s just his personality. He’s understanding of the demands on me. I understand that his work is demanding and he understands I have stuff to do and we’re both okay with that. I don’t work a 9-5. It’s whenever parents and students need me.
LM: What is your love advice to women?
AM: Always be kind even when you don’t want to be. I have a temper and can be moody sometimes but I have to step back a lot and think about if I would want someone to say that to me. Be mindful of what you say. If he asks you to send him banana bread 1000 miles away, just go ahead and do it. He texted me the other day and said, "Babe, I think that banana bread really made me do good in practice. You gotta send me some more.”
LM: Oh, that's funny! Nice of you to do that though. What do you think are the common misconceptions about NFL WAGS?
AM: Overall, most people on the outside looking in think we’re spoiled and kept women who can’t or won’t do for themselves. That’s a big misconception! Even my students will say, “If he’s in the NFL, why are you here?” and I’m like, "What do you mean, 'Why am I here?' This is my job!" Oftentimes, people want to define you based on what your significant other does. You can’t define me by someone else’s merit.
LM: Talk about what the NFL has meant for your family.
AM: For me, a lot of what it's meant has been financial. We were able to purchase this new home. Other than that, it’s meant traveling and getting to hang out in new cities for the Summer and Spring Break. Kevin is really big into charities, especially the team community outreach. He is the first one to sign up for those events and if he can bring me, he will. That’s always nice. We enjoy the events with kids (reading books to elementary school kids, etc). It’s nice to see the business side of it (banquets, donations, etc).It’s also been a lot of headache to coordinate my work schedule with Kevin’s. I know it's selfish to think this way but sometimes I wish he had an easier schedule.
LM: What would you like people to know about you?
AM: I am strange at times but it’s okay to be strange. You don’t have to try to fit into somebody’s box. That’s what I try to teach my students. Don't go out and do crazy stuff but if you’re within the law, it’s okay for you to be yourself and relax; don't be so uptight.
LM: What type of activities, specifically, do you do with your fiancé?
AM: We like to travel. We travel stateside mainly but if I have some time off , we’ll go anywhere. We like to go to vineyards. We’re part of wine clubs. We love to go out to restaurants. I’m not a big cooker but Kevin is. Kevin loves lists. His phone has a lot of lists. We use this app called Couple where you and your partner can create lists to view. Kevin makes lists about everything. He has lists titled, “Things I love about you” and “Dates we need to go on” for example.
LM: What are some of those date ideas he has?
AM: Apple picking, fishing, hot air balloon ride, Star Wars movie marathon, and making our own bread
LM: Has he mentioned what he would like to do in the future?
AM: I could see him being a PE teacher with little kids or working at a vet’s office. He’s a dog whisperer. It’s crazy! He wants to do some internships with the NFL. He wants to start up a nonprofit working with kids and sports. Right now he’s getting his Master’s at Georgia State (MBA) during the off season. He took 2 or 3 classes during the season when he was with the Falcons so that was hard. He always takes classes in the off season though. He’ll drag me to some of his group meetings when they do projects and it’s cool to see him in that element. Whatever he does, it’ll probably involve owning his own business dealing with kids, sports, or both. He did work for Westinghouse. He worked as an engineering intern with nuclear power plants. His possibilities are endless.
LM: What is Kevin’s degree in?
KC: His degree is in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech. He’s super into Math and all that.
LM: Impressive! What about you? What are your long term goals?
AM: Ideally, as far as work goals I want to work for the County as some sort of professional development coach or educational coach for teachers. I want to help teachers teach students. I don't want to be in the classroom forever. I want to be a classroom teacher for at least ten years though. I’ve been teaching for five years already so I'm halfway there. I also want to learn how to do nails even if I don’t apply it as a career because I love nails. I want to be a mom and raise decent people.
LM: Anything else you would like to add?
AM: I LOVE my cat Sheldon. He’s my first child.
Hilarious! What a fun interview! I'm excited to catch up with Amber later in the season to see what the Canadian Football League experience is like.