I met my husband at a bar in New Haven, Connecticut. As local lore goes, he took one look at me from across the room and knew I was going to be his wife. I took one look at him after he told me he was a football coach and I thought he must be a dumb jock. Instead, I found him to be so personable, charming and good looking. I thought what the heck, we’ll dance. In my defense, I was raised by a single mom and all I knew about football was it was played on Sundays. Oh, and there were two teams and once a year there was a really big game that involved lots of food. Despite my ignorance, six months later he proposed to me in front of my classroom of kindergarteners.
Looking back now, after more than 20-plus years of being a college and pro football wife, I see now I was being heavily recruited. He recognized talent when he saw it; a strong, friendly, outgoing woman. She loved children, wanted a family and had fast muscle twitch fiber. Yes, you read that right! No joke, pretty early on in our dating he threw a clementine at my head and I caught it. Within one year, or season as we refer to calendar time, we were married.
It wasn’t more than three months into our wedded bliss when my world was turned upside-down. Jeff was offered a job we both decided he could not turn down. He moved one week later and I was left alone for six months to finish out my teaching career, pack up our home, find the perfect new home in a place I knew nothing about, and say goodbye to the life I loved. In fairness he had explained that with his career we might move one day. I might have to leave the town I called home, my friends I grew up with and a job I loved endlessly. Yet in my mind, I thought if he just did his job, and he was such a hard worker, that we would never leave. At last count that was the first of six moves our family has endured.
In the last 25 years we have lived in nine places—each one we’ve called home. We've trained three dogs, raised two children, coached six teams and adopted over 400 players as our sons. As we moved along, we left a path of friends of all ages whose concept of watching football as a fun pastime turned into a stressful job often riddled with emotions and superstitious behavior. It is safe to say that our journey has been filled with enough tears to float Noah’s Ark; happy, sad, anxious, overwhelming, joyous, shocking and yes, sometimes angry ones too. The most recent of those stops for those not familiar was Philadelphia . . . and the Eagles.
Tears are filling up my eyes as I sit in the middle of our two children on a plane headed for Minneapolis, Minnesota for Super Bowl LII. When I allow myself to take in the magnitude of this opportunity it seems surreal to my heart and head. All my husbands hard work, endless hours away from home, years of missing most family events, report card meetings, kid’s sporting events and our daily life has led to this. Our choice for me to leave my career and stay at home and take care of our kids, our home and just about everything else has led to this. We are not strangers to big games. My husband spent two seasons at Alabama, which happened to coincide with back-to-back national championships. And then there was last week against the Vikings. All that has led to this.
To our families who have supported this life dream-this is for you. To all the neighbors who shoveled snow, walked our dogs, decorated our home after a win, helped us pack up, painted our home for resale, mowed our lawn, befriended us, supported us whether we won but especially when we lost-this game is for you. To our friends who continue to stay in touch despite the miles between us-this is for you. For all those people who embraced the “new family” and helped us understand and appreciate the history of a program we knew nothing about-this is for you. For all the football players who came before this team today-this is for you. And to the city of Philadelphia and all that it is and all that we LOVE-this is most especially for you. Like our fans, we hope this will be the first of many trips to the big game. As sports realists, we understand it might be our only one. Soak in every moment. We certainly hope to.
Enjoy your really big game with lots of food,
A little thing you should know: In December of 2003 our head coach was let go and so started the limbo of who on staff would be retained or let go. Traditionally our football program would send “Santa” to each of the coaches homes for a visit. That year when our 7-year-old son was asked what he wanted he replied, “Santa, all I want for Christmas is for my Dad to get a job.” Sad, happy and truthful tears filled every pair of eyes in that room.