Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's been too long!

Sorry for the lack of updates - with the premiere of Football Wives a couple weeks ago, things have been busy, busy, busy. I spend all the free time I have trying to promote the show since VH1 has done very little in that department. I'm usually on Twitter or Facebook giving updates. I should be getting paid for all this extra work I'm doing. I've been blogging for VH1 after the episodes - I will post those blogs here.

Thanks for checking in and keeping up!

Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook - Football Wives Episode 1

Dawn Neufeld of Football Wives has agreed to blog for us, giving us weekly behind-the-scenes insight and dishing on each of her show’s episodes. After introducing herself last week, she’s ready to get in the game — her take on Episode 1 is below…

Oh Hell No! - Now That You’ve Met the Cast of Football Wives, Let’s Start Getting Real

Blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter were aflutter with talk about our first episode. While reading such comments, I am always incredibly floored by one particular train of thought. We were being hammered for being a cast of unknowns – the only football player that people had ever heard of was Deion Sanders. The rest of us were just broke no-names with unremarkable husbands so why would people even be interested in watching the show? Well, Mat McBriar is a pro-bowler. George Foster is a former first-round pick. And are you kidding me? Who hasn’t heard of Rocket Ismail if you’re a true fan of the game?

In other threads, people would bash us for being money-hungry fame seekers who do nothing all day and need to get real jobs. Fact is, some of us do work and have jobs. Just-the-girlfriend Brittany Pigrenet has two jobs so she can put herself through school. So here’s my issue - if the cast was full of name-worthy players like Primetime, there might be a very uninteresting cast of women all sharing the same experience of trying to be relevant and more than just players’ wives. That’s not a show I’d want to watch. I think we have a great cast of ladies who lead very different lives. You’ve got the superstar husbands like Leonard Davis, Primetime and Rocket, and you’ve got guys like the kickers and Ryan who have the more typical NFL experiences that lack fame and glory. Not all players in the NFL are superstars – that’s our reality!

Sunday night, we had our (Unofficial) Official Football Wives Premiere Party at Lemon Bar in Uptown Dallas. I have to call it the Unofficial Official party because our event wasn’t officially sanctioned by VH1, but most of the cast were in attendance. Notably absent were yet-to-be-introduced Mercedes Nelson (she lives in Los Angeles and had her own premiere party Friday) and Pilar Sanders. Word on the street is that Pilar had her own premiere party somewhere in Dallas, but none of us were invited so I can’t really give you any details past that.

We were packed into the VIP area at Lemon Bar when the show started. One thing people may not know is that we generally don’t get a sneak peek at the episodes before they air – we will be seeing the show in all its edited glory at the same time as everyone else. We all caught the sneak premiere posted on the VH1 website last week, but it was amazing to see our intro for the first time and to watch the drama unfold along with 200 of our closest family and friends.

The first episode clearly focused on Amanda Davis, Chanita Foster and Pilar. This didn’t really surprise me because each of them is a larger-than-life personality. Amanda is the bling queen that drives a semi-truck and has floor-to-ceiling pictures of herself in her house. Chanita is, well, big! She’s 6-feet-tall and wears five-inch Louboutins wherever she goes. And no doubt she has a big, in-your-face personality to match. And Pilar…let’s just say I think she thinks this is her world and we’re all just in it.

No wonder the first confrontation of the season (and there will be a few) involved the above-mentioned parties. Let’s talk about Bible study – here’s my take on it and a little behind-the-scenes information for you. We hung out for about an hour “fellowshipping” (i.e. eating) before Bible study started. While standing around, Pilar actually invited all of us to the premiere – everyone but Melani declined her invitation.

Who wouldn’t want to leave a three-hour Bible study?!?!? I’ve been accused of being a heathen-Christian once or twice (okay, maybe more) and I certainly would’ve been the first person jetting out the door. The reality is the preacher joked that we were going to be sitting there for three hours. The actual Bible study was only about 20 minutes and Pilar and Melani left minutes after the preacher began.
I can tell you this: Melani was really, really conflicted about leaving. She told me she really didn’t want to go and actually regretted making the decision to leave, which is why she was quick to apologize to Amanda when we all got together for lunch at La Duni. I hated to leave lunch that day but had to run to an extremely important audition for an Emmy-winning casting agent. Things were getting good too – I love watching an argument I’m not involved in. I think Pilar could’ve won for her theatrics that day, though, when she spoofed Chanita. Her dramatic rendition was…um…captivating.

My opinion on the matter? Pilar is the biggest Bible-thumper of the crew so it was shocking to some of us who know this about her that she would be disruptive and leave the Bible study. I think the right and classy thing to do would’ve been to stop by, make her appearance, then leave before the preaching started. We’re all busy and we all have obligations, but there’s a way to go about things. Getting up once the study began was rude. Just my opinion…

We managed to get through our first episode without any Bibles or punches being thrown – you’ll have to tune in to see what might happen over the next couple of months. Biblegate overshadowed some other issues we’ll tackle during the season: injuries, financial woes, career transitioning, just being a girlfriend. Make sure you stay tuned.

Here are a few pictures from our big Premiere Party at the Lemon Bar!

Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook - Football Wives Episode 2

Dawn Neufeld of Football Wives has agreed to blog for us, giving us weekly behind-the-scenes insight and dishing on each of her show’s episodes. Her take on Episode 2 is below…

To Each Her Own…

Where do I start? The second episode of Football Wives was jam-packed with all sorts of tidbits and goodies. Unfortunately, I think some folks watching may have missed out on some of the amazing moments in the episode because they were so focused on Chanita’s “bad hair” and appearance. So in case you were captivated by Chanita’s wig, let me recap some of the highlights of the episode for you.
The conversation between Pilar and Deion highlights a very serious issue that all NFL couples have to deal with: injuries and the long-term physical disabilities attributed to the game. No doubt Deion’s body took a serious beating during his career and unfortunately, it’s a sacrifice players make to play the game. From concussions to blown ACLs to broken bones, no one is immune. Erin’s husband, Matt, even suffered a broken foot that ended his season last year, and he plays a position that isn’t typically injury-prone. This is one of those areas that viewers may find hard to appreciate – they don’t want to hear that the players suffer as a result of the game. It’s not fun. It’s not glamorous. But it is our reality.

You will rarely hear a player complain or worry about potential injuries and long-term health issues but I can promise you, they are thinking about it. The wives are the ones who typically spend more time focusing on the “what-ifs” though – Chanita clearly had one of those moments at the beginning of this episode. A lot of my football wife friends texted and messaged me that they actually starting crying during this scene because they can relate – we’ve all been there. As Football Wives progresses this season, you’ll hear a lot more about the toll injuries take on the guys, their bodies, and their families.

Enough of the serious stuff – let’s talk about golf and the introduction of our “kicked off” cast member Mercedes Nelson. I was actually a little surprised that viewers didn’t get more of a Mercedes introduction. Many people have even wondered why she was even part of the initial cast. I know I wondered the same thing before I got to know her – girlfriends are questionably relevant to a show with “Wives” in the title. How in the heck does an “ex-girlfriend” fit in? The fact is that she claims she left her ex who is a superstar NFL running back. Many people think dating a football player is like hitting the lottery, so why would anyone give up the opportunity to be a football player’s wife? Think I’m joking? Read some of the messages floating around in cyberspace and on Twitter – the aura of being a superstar’s wife is why groupies even exist! I thought telling the story of why someone would walk away from all the glitz and glamour would be an interesting piece to the football puzzle – not all women involved with pro-athletes are about the money. Hopefully we’ll hear a little more about Mercedes as the season continues.
Now to our golf outing! There is so much you missed on the golf course that day! Let’s start with the fact that it was about 100 degrees at 9 o’clock in the morning – it was hot! You bet I was going to have a margarita, but who doesn’t have a cocktail or two when out on a golf course? We were breaking all sorts of golf course etiquette rules – from Mercedes’ daisy duke shorts to my shouting match with Chanita, it’s amazing they didn’t escort us out! Here’s a fun tidbit though: Chanita golfed with her pitching wedge and that was it! She had a full set of clubs and literally ran all over Melani and me with a pitching wedge. She drove the ball, putted the ball, etc. with a freaking pitching wedge! I should’ve known not to make any bets after she took her first swing.

I think viewers finally got a little taste of Melani and her amazing personality too – she’s so funny. She seems quiet and reserved, but when LaQuefah Shenaynay (a.k.a. that girl from Ladera) comes out, anything is bound to happen. You missed Melani pranking folks on the golf course – at one point she loosened Chanita’s golf bag so the second the ladies took off in the golf cart, the clubs fell off the back. I knew I had no chance of winning that golf game and I was going to end up getting made over the second I realized Melani was a jokester.

I’m not sure when the parameters of the makeover challenge changed. Our initial bet was an ‘80s makeover complete with Cross Colours, so I don’t know when that turned into call-girl couture! I still have that gold outfit. Maybe I should auction it off on eBay and donate the proceeds to charity. You think Chanita’s charity will accept the proceeds? Just kidding.

That leads me to my big fight with Chanita. Let me give you a behind-the-scenes look at what happened that led to the confrontation: Chanita and I were shooting a scene at her home – the one where we were sitting on her couch. Chanita was still getting ready back in her room when the sound guys were putting my microphone on. Two of her youngest girls woke up from their naps and were standing at the top of the staircase in full princess gear – and they started dancing! I joked and said that I’d have to give them dance lessons since Chanita said at our golf lunch that they couldn’t take dance lessons so that she could send the money to the kids in Swaziland. Both kids looked at me with blank stares on their faces – they had no clue what I was talking about and I knew that they wouldn’t – they are too young. The cameras weren’t rolling, so none of this was captured.

At some point, I actually joked with Chanita about what I’d told the girls. She laughed at first, but I think as she thought about it over the next couple of days it bothered her. I seriously hadn’t given it any thought.
Imagine my surprise when she went off on me in the restaurant - did she say she’d walk me like a dog? Who says that? I did think she was being extremely sensitive and overly aggressive in trying to make her point. Was I wrong for making the comment to her kids? In hindsight, probably so. And honestly, if someone made a comment to my kids I thought was inappropriate, I might certainly go off. So I can understand and appreciate where Chanita is coming from, but I may not have approached it the way she did. For what it’s worth, I never, ever said Chanita is a bad mom…

You’ll have to tune in next week to see if we’re able to resolve our issues. In the
meantime, I want to go to Brittany’s house sometime this week for a little competitive beer pong and to play with my little buddy Spike…

Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook - Football Wives Episode 3

Dawn Neufeld of Football Wives has agreed to blog for us, giving us weekly behind-the-scenes insight and dishing on each of her show’s episodes. Her take on Episode 3 is below (the bolding is our editorial emphasis, not hers)…

This blog is a little longer than usual but there are so many things to talk about in Episode 3. Bear with me.

Let me start by taking you back to opening day of the NFL season in 2007. It’s the beginning of the third quarter at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo. Tens of thousands of fans stand and roar as the special teamers take the field. Rian Lindell kicks off and the Bills coverage team heads down the field full speed. Denver Broncos receiver Domenik Hixon fields the ball and races into oncoming traffic. The sound of helmets and bodies colliding can be heard over the fans’ cheers. The whistle blows, the play is over.

Ryan was on the field during that play. When I noticed there was a Bills’ player down, my heart started racing. I immediately started looking around to make sure Ryan was heading to the sideline. I spotted number 88 and immediately felt relieved, but was overwhelmingly concerned about the player on the field. The players were frantically summoning the training staff – you could tell by their urgency that someone was really, really hurt. Players from both teams were crying. Some immediately fell to their knees and began to pray. The silence that fell over the stadium was breathtaking. After a couple of minutes, I realized the hurt player was another tight end, Kevin Everett. As the ambulance rolled onto the turf, I said a prayer for Kevin and his family but thanked God it wasn’t Ryan.

Immediately after the Bills’ devastating 15-14 loss that night, we rushed to the hospital and waited in the lobby for news. Kevin was in surgery. It was bad – a spinal cord injury that would most likely leave him paralyzed. Even worse, they were not sure Kevin would survive.

We spent a lot of time at the hospital over the next week until Kevin was transferred home to Texas making sure that Kevin’s family had whatever they needed. I witnessed more grown men cry that week than I had ever in my life — as the players came to visit Kevin, each one was confronted with the danger and reality of the sport they loved and lived. Any of them easily could’ve been laid up in that bed on a respirator, hooked up to monitors in a medically-induced coma, a cold experimental saline solution being pumped through their veins in a desperate attempt to keep their spinal cord from swelling. I drove home from the hospital one day and I just lost it. I had to pull over as I sobbed uncontrollably. This one hit too close to home - that could have been Ryan.

There is a happy ending to this story – Kevin has made a miraculous recovery and while he’ll never be the same guy that was out on the football field before the collision that almost took his life, he is not paralyzed and is living a wonderful life with his wife and children. Unfortunately, not all of these stories have a happy ending. Just recently, a Rutgers University player suffered a spinal cord injury during a game and is paralyzed. We’ve heard of several high school students in our area suffering similar fates. The risks associated with football are real, the health consequences life-altering. We will forever live with this reality and no amount of money ever makes it feel “right.”

I have to take a moment to address one of the critiques we’ve been getting. People seem to think that we don’t have perspective – that we can’t possibly contemplate and appreciate that there are other jobs far more dangerous than football that aren’t compensated nearly as well. Well, here’s some perspective: as we prepared for Ryan to leave for training camp this year, my reaction was always the same when people asked how I was going to get through three months without him. I always said, “Well, he’s not going off to fight in a war and its only three months so we’ll manage. We just have to take it day by day.” My point is that I get it – no, playing football is not as dangerous as taking sniper fire in the middle of Afghanistan. My husband did not choose a career in the military, so I don’t know what it’s like to have my spouse gone for a year or two. Ryan approached me several years ago and discussed the possibility of going into law enforcement after football and I shut him down real quick – it’s too dangerous. However, appreciating the sacrifices and risks of other careers does not minimize those associated with football. We didn’t share our stories to get sympathy – we simply shared our reality about the risks associated with the sport. People suggesting we don’t have a right to be concerned or to bring attention to those risks because our husbands are spoiled, high-paid athletes is frustrating.

Ryan and I also addressed another aspect of our reality during this episode – our finances. Sharing our struggles has been difficult and has opened us up to all sorts of criticism. Someone actually chastised me for over-sharing and said I shouldn’t be putting all of my business out there. Well, I’m on a reality show. The only way I can make this process authentic is to be real about every aspect of my life, and this is one of those areas that deserved some attention. Ryan and I aren’t broke – we manage. But things definitely aren’t as comfortable as they used to be.
The reality is that a significant number of football players are in extreme financial distress two years after official retirement from football. The average NFL career is a little over three years and I don’t care how well one plans and prepares for the transition, the money will only last for so long. We aren’t immune to the woes of the economy either – I had to take a part-time legal job that pays well under the going rate for an attorney these days because it was the only job I could find. Companies aren’t lining up to hire anyone these days, let alone retired football players, so it took Ryan some time to find something he wanted to pursue. Apparently some viewers aren’t interested in our story because of our financial situation – we’re just broke ex-football players so why are we even relevant? Again, this is our reality and it’s the reality for many people coming out of the game – it matters for the parents who emphasize sports over education, for women who think marrying an athlete will solve all of their problems. May our story be a cautionary tale for current and future football players and their families.

There was a lot of crying in this episode. I didn’t realize Chanita was such a crier – she’s just a big ol’ softy under that mean, aggressive exterior. People have asked how in the world I can let her talk the way she did to me in last week’s episode and still be cool. I’m not kidding – I ignore Chanita and some of her antics. They are beyond me. My mom always taught me to pick and choose my battles – the ones with Chanita aren’t worth fighting.

Seriously, there was so much riding on this football season for Ryan and me. This was supposed to be his last season playing the game he’s loved all his life. He’s finally hanging up the cleats and we’re closing this chapter. I didn’t think I was going to get so emotional, but the finality of it all got to me. Well, and the fact that I was going to be changing diapers and dealing with autism meltdowns for three months by myself. Speaking of autism, I want to do a separate blog focusing on that aspect of our lives – I will try to get to it this week.

Enough with the heavy stuff – let’s talk drama! We can’t have an episode of Football Wives without a little drama! First scene of the show – Pilar states she has a fitness program that she runs out of her home and that she wanted to invite us into her world for a workout. The TRUTH? Pilar lives 15 minutes from my house and I’ve never been invited to her home. We shot that scene the day Ryan left for Omaha. After dealing with the emotions of him leaving, I had to go to work (I do that) and then I had to go to an audition. It was a really long day. We were supposed to meet in my home city of Frisco for Pilar’s Zumba-type dance class at 5:30 p.m. that evening. A little over an hour before the class was to begin, we got a call that the location of our fitness class had changed. It was only after I typed in “Lancaster” in my navigational system did I realize just how far it was – it was about an hour south of where we were and we had to head down there in the thick of rush-hour traffic. When we arrived at the location, we found out we were going to be outside in 100 degree heat doing a boot camp-style workout. We all felt so bamboozled. So excuse me for not being appreciative of being invited into her world.
Looking back on the three months we were in production on Football Wives, I can honestly say that boot camp was the first time I actually wondered if Pilar and I were going to get along. Up until that point, we’d had some good interactions. She and I actually have a lot in common – probably more than we care to admit. But something about that day and how things went down just didn’t sit right with me. We ended up having a good time once we got out on the field that day – I even ended up playing a little football with some of the ladies from the boot camp class. But the lack of consideration for everyone else’s time really rubbed me the wrong way. Pilar hasn’t hesitated to tell us how busy she is, and so am I. My time is very, very precious to me.

For the record, Pilar’s body is banging. You can tell she works hard. But just FYI - I have abs. I just don’t run around showing them off all the time. And I have a kick butt boot camp instructor who is also a Football Wife – shout out to Sheila Stoutmire!

I’m not going to spend too much time focusing on the fact that Pilar lied about her age although I’m sure she might try to say she was just kidding. It certainly didn’t sound like she was kidding to the ladies sitting at my table. I don’t think Chanita will be throwing herself a Sweet 16 any time soon.

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