Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My blog is open once again!

For the past couple of months, I privatized my blog at the request of VH1. Now that we're two weeks out from the end of the season, I figured what the heck, let's open it back up. I haven't blogged enough and I promise I will do more, especially with the holidays coming up.

Some notables over the last couple of weeks...

Will lost his second tooth on Sunday. He was in the bath tub - I checked and the very loose tooth was still there. Not two minutes later, I heard "bye bye tooth." The tooth was gone and nowhere in sight. Since I wasn't going to look for it, the tooth fairy was left a note!

Will also sang in his first ever school program last month! Well, he tried. He got up on stage after practicing for a couple of weeks, but all the people made him a little nervous. He ended up singing all of his songs in the hallway. I was so proud of him for even getting up there in the first place. It was a big step for our special guy.

Today is my mom's 60th birthday! Happy birthday mom!

With the UFL season coming to a close with last week's championship game, it's safe and fair to say that Ryan's professional football career is over. We were so bummed he didn't get picked up this week and that Ryan didn't leave the sport on his own terms. But God has a plan and we'll seek his guidance as we venture into this next chapter of our lives.

Here are my last few blog posts from the VH1 Football Wives site - enjoy!

Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook - Football Wives Episode 4
Tutu much…

This week’s episode of Football Wives covered a mélange of different situations from runway rascals to eternal damnation. Just my opinion (and this is my blog): but there seemed to be too many issues wrapped into one 22-minute episode and I wouldn’t be surprised if some viewers were left saying, “What the H?” If it were up to me, I’d be telling a different story. But here is a little behind-the-scenes information that might help fill in some of the blanks:

One aspect of my life that hasn’t really been featured on Football Wives is that I am an experienced television host. For nearly two years, I co-hosted The Bite, a weekly entertainment television show broadcast in restaurants across the country. I am also host of D210 TV, a local sports and entertainment show. If there’s one thing I’m comfortable doing, it’s getting up on stage with a microphone, interviewing celebrities and hosting events.

When Chanita told me a few days before her Rock Star Rascals fashion show that she’d asked Pilar to host the event, I was upset and felt slighted. I knew she only asked Pilar to emcee because Pilar’s name is more recognizable and having a big name associated with your event can draw a crowd. Because I’m not a “celebrity” (in air quotes), I was relegated to modeling duty with my mini-me Bryn that day. We were ready to rock the runway when Chanita informed me that she hadn’t heard from Pilar and she needed me to host the event. My first thought was, “Oh heck no!” She should’ve asked me to host her event in the first place and I didn’t like being her plan B. I knew Chanita was stressed out and in a bind so I eventually agreed to help – that’s what friends do. But make no mistake – I was mad.

Pilar showed up “on time” minutes before the fashion show began. Truth is we were probably running about an hour behind schedule. In Pilar’s defense, she was hosting a gathering at her home that afternoon (that none of us had been invited to), but she did make the effort to make it to Chanita’s event to fulfill her hosting commitment. Chanita might as well have slapped me across my face when she informed me that Pilar would be emceeing instead of me. We’ve talked a lot about the “haves” and the “have-nots” in the football world. Being made to feel like a “have-not” by a friend was a bit much for me. My issue was not with Pilar that night – it was with Chanita. But I took one for the team and did what I had to do to make the event a success. And I think Chanita learned a big lesson.

Funny story: the fashion show was held at Celebrity Bakery & Café in Dallas. Someone had the brilliant idea of using the shop next to the café as the holding area for the models (aka kids). Problem is – it’s a fur shop! I spent two hours before the show started telling Bryn “stop it” or “don’t touch” because I was afraid she was going to destroy some of the merchandise. I hope the shop owner had insurance because with all of those kids running around with candy-covered hands and glitter-sprayed hair, I’m pretty sure we left some damage behind. I also found it ironic that it was probably 110 degrees outside on a sweltering Dallas summer day and we were surrounded by winter coats. Heat, kids and fur coats don’t mix.
For what it’s worth, I think the fashion show was adorable and the kids were amazing. And it was so much fun to have NFL standout Tim Brown and Dallas Mavericks star Jason Terry sitting in the audience supporting their kids who were featured in the show.

Moving on to Chanita being rushed to the hospital at Amanda’s event – can you say drama?!? Apparently Chanita had a headache most of that day and had been going, going, going as usual. At first, I didn’t realize the situation was so serious and even joked about it when I got into the makeup chair but when Chanita said that her feet were numb, I panicked. You see, we have a fellow real-life football wife who lost her husband this year after he suffered a brain aneurysm. It was the first thing that crossed my mind as Chanita fell to the floor clutching her head. My next thought was to get in touch with George – I called Ryan because I knew he’d know how to get in touch with the team trainer in Omaha, and the trainers always know how to get in touch with the players. When Ryan asked me if I was OK, I lost it because I wasn’t. I was really scared. It was hard seeing Chanita being wheeled away on a gurney. Make sure you tune in next week to see what happened once we got to the hospital.

Another behind-the-scenes funny: Chanita is a commando girl and has no qualms about telling you that she does not like VPLs – visible panty lines (a huge fashion faux pas – VPLs are so not cute). The dress Chanita wore that night was a little tight, a little short. As Chanita was lying on the ground waiting for the paramedics, all I saw were Spanx. I joked how glad I was she decided to put on undergarments for a change or we would’ve seen all of her business. It might’ve made for good television, but I’m glad we were spared.

Did anyone notice that Pilar seemed to strut her stuff on the catwalk with the rest of us? Or that she was standing around looking on while Chanita was being carted off? She made the point several times over the last couple of weeks that she didn’t know what was going on with Chanita that night but from what we saw on the show, it sure looks like she should have because she was apparently there. I’ve made the point before that the cast doesn’t see the show until everyone else does. Hours of footage has to be cut down into a 22-minute show and it is always interesting to us to see how our story is told. We can be as real and authentic as possible while the cameras are rolling, but we’re all susceptible to good old fashioned television editing when all is said and done. While I do believe Pilar knew or should’ve know what was going on that evening, she was not as involved and present as the show made it seem.

Things have been arguably calm so far this season on Football Wives. Some have even criticized the show for being a little boring. After watching the preview for next week’s episode, I have a feeling that’s all about to change…

Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook - Football Wives Episode 5
Cookiegate on the Cookie Cruise!

Pilar has been blowing up the airwaves this week insinuating I am not a good mother, wife and professional because of my behavior on this week’s episode. This coming from the woman who claims that she is the victim of bullying by the Football Wives cast and that she is the innocent party in all of this. This is a tough blog for me to write because I’m a little emotional after watching this episode and reading some of the hateful and disparaging comments online about the incident we jokingly refer to as “Cookiegate.” Of course, I’m referring to the confrontation on the boat where I wasted a perfectly good and tasty chocolate chip cookie by throwing it at Pilar. What in the world would make me so mad that I’d throw a cookie? According to folks on the web, it’s because I’m jealous of Pilar’s beauty and money. Maybe it was a little “liquid courage” that gave me the nerve to tell Pilar how I really felt about her and her behavior. Here is a little behind-the-scenes perspective that might give some insight on how the Cookiegate scandal came to fruition…

Before I delve into the drama, let me explain a little bit about Ryan’s injury and our financial situation. Ryan suffered a relatively minor PCL tear. It’s a minor injury because it doesn’t require surgery and with intense rehab, a player can be back on the field in a couple of weeks. Actually, after Ryan felt the pop in his knee that day, he went on to complete practice - he didn’t even think it was that big of a deal. Ryan was told by his coaches that they planned on bringing him back to Omaha once he completed his rehab. Ryan spent several weeks at a facility in Birmingham, Alabama where he worked tirelessly so that he could be cleared and get back on the field. We were both devastated to hear that Ryan was not on the Nighthawks’ roster on cut day and that, in fact, they had given his number away to another player. Ryan really thought the team was going to stick by him and even hoped that at some point this season, they would bring him back to Omaha if there was a need. So much for loyalty. Unfortunately, this happens A LOT in football. Guys get hurt, they are told they’ll be brought back, then they never hear from the team again.

Bottom line – Ryan got laid off. There was no severance package, no compensation for his time, injury, etc. Many folks in this economy know exactly what this feels like, and they know how hard and difficult finding another job can be. Ryan is currently working for the National Collegiate Scouting Association and is enjoying what he’s doing. But he hates that he wasn’t able to play in what was supposed to be his last football season and hang up his cleats on his own terms.

Moving on, let’s talk about the boat trip and what turned into a screaming match in the middle of Lake Lewisville on a perfect Texas summer day. This is where writing this blog is going to be hard. I cannot address what happened on the boat without talking about my experiences with Pilar leading up to that day. Folks are going to say that I’m just hating on Pilar or that I’m jealous. Neither are true. What I know is that there are a lot of people on Team Pilar – like, a lot of people and they really, really like her and will defend her at my expense. This became apparent to me when I got booed on stage at a club appearance this weekend after I told the crowd to tune into the show to watch me cuss Pilar out. I realized that a lot of people love her public persona – her beauty, wealth and lifestyle are captivating and interesting to people. But it was her blatant disrespect for those around her lucky enough to be graced by her presence that finally pushed me to my breaking point.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I was open to developing a friendship with Pilar in the beginning and hoped we would do so. I even said the following during one of my early interviews for the show: “I like Pilar. She seems like a nice person and we have a lot in common. I look forward to getting to know her.” We actually had some great interactions early on, from a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant to her coming to my house for our going-away barbecue for the guys. Contrary to what Pilar has said, we were not out to get her from the beginning.
I stated in a previous blog that the day we had to drive an hour south at the last minute for Pilar’s boot camp was the beginning of the end for me. I couldn’t understand why in the world we would all be inconvenienced and have to drive so far away to get to boot camp when Pilar’s spacious property (football-field included) and other perfectly suitable locations were available much closer to home. The second I pulled into the parking lot, everything became clear when I saw a sign for the Sanders’ football program. It appeared to me that boot camp had been set up to help promote their football team. Don’t get me wrong – I have no problem with people on reality shows hawking their products and businesses. We were all supportive of each other’s endeavors on our show. But I found out from a close and reliable friend shortly after boot camp that Pilar usually didn’t conduct this fitness program at football practice. I was bothered that we’d all been inconvenienced that day but like Pilar said in the boot camp episode, we should’ve been more appreciative for being allowed into her world.

As taping of Football Wives continued, patterns began to emerge. Pilar would arrive at the scheduled call times and then we’d have to wait for her to apply her makeup which took a while. I can name two specific occasions off the top of my head that I remember this happening – once at a taping at a high-end boutique and another at a cast dinner. For me, time is money – missed hours at work, time away from my family, babysitting, etc. My time is precious, and having to wait for Pilar didn’t make me happy.

Pilar was always very standoffish with us. It seemed as though we were expected to go out of our way to be nice to her (and we always were – very cordial and inviting), but we were lucky if she even spoke to us if the cameras weren’t rolling. I remember one particular evening at a local Mexican restaurant – we had a little time to kill before we started shooting and Pilar went and stood in the corner on her phone while the rest of us hung out. The second we sat down for dinner and the cameras started rolling, she acted like we were all good friends. Pilar made several comments to me that night that rubbed me the wrong way. She made several references to me having a margarita - she would say that I’d had too much to drink and I needed a sip of water. Other cast mates were having cocktails and she didn’t make any comments about their drinking. She went on to say several times that I was so “skinny.” Under normal circumstances, I’d take this as a compliment because I work hard to take care of and maintain my figure. But she kept saying things like, “You need to eat. You’re so skinny.” I interpreted her comments as implying that I might have an eating disorder. I asked another cast mate if she was hearing the same thing and she told me yes. Pilar would later go on to say she was just kidding. I’m not sure when alcoholism or eating disorders became something to joke about but I certainly didn’t think it was funny.

What pushed me over the edge with Pilar was when I confirmed the rumor circulating that Pilar would not let our crew use the restrooms in her palatial home – they had to use the pool house like they were hired help. I understand not letting random strangers into your house to pee, but we worked with the same crew for almost four months and they were amazing! They were always respectful of my space, my home, and my family. They would come into my house and play with my kids and pets. We broke bread together. They really did become a part of the family. It was hard for me to hear that they were being disrespected. I thought I might’ve been making too much about the situation until I recently heard a radio interview in which Pilar addressed the Internet story that said she wouldn’t allow the crew to use one of her 13 bathrooms. During the interview, she never actually denied the allegation. What she said was something along the lines of that she has more than 13 bathrooms and more than 109 acres of land. She went on to say that she doesn’t let just anyone into her home to disrespect it and leave their droppings all over the place. Droppings? Who refers to other human beings using the word “droppings?” If that isn’t disrespectful, I don’t know what is.

My final straw was the evening we took our cast picture – this was the night before we went out on the cookie cruise. We’d gathered at a beautiful home in Westlake, Texas for the shoot and the incredibly generous homeowners set us up in their fully-equipped gym with all the necessary facilities to get ready. Pilar walked in with the homeowner, saw the room we were in and then asked if there was somewhere else she could change. She has since said that the room was “too crowded.” It seemed to work for the rest of us. It upset me that she wouldn’t let the crew impose on her and her home by using her bathroom facilities, but she’d impose on this homeowner and insist on changing somewhere else. I knew Pilar was in ear shot of me that night when I voiced my disapproval of her behavior because I could hear her giggling in the nearby room. You could’ve cut the tension that night with a knife as we sat for our cast picture. It was very clear that evening that a definitive line had been drawn. It did seem like “everyone vs. Pilar,” but not without good reason. I know a lot of these examples may seem like small and petty things to get upset about, but when they happen over and over again over a short period of time, it’s easy to get fed up and have enough!

That’s exactly what happened on the cookie cruise. We got on the boat that evening ready to have a good time. Pilar came on the cruise because she had to – not because she wanted to. I can’t blame her – no one was really happy with her at that point, which is why Melani had a point when she said to us that Pilar was “brave” for getting on the boat. Pilar did get on the boat, posted up in her seat, and got on her phone as usual. At one point we were taking a cast picture – after taking one without Pilar, I asked her to get in the picture. After all, we are a cast and I wanted my memories of the Football Wives experience to include all of us. She initially protested and said no. I asked again and she agreed. The calm before the storm…

We were about two hours into the cruise before all hell broke loose. We’d been having an amazing time – taking turns on the pole, enjoying the sunset and goofing around – just having fun. Chanita even threw my flip flop into the lake after the other one fell in. We just laughed about it. Things got serious when Amanda asked why Pilar didn’t show any concern about Chanita being in the hospital. I can tell you this – I certainly wouldn’t have expected Pilar to go out of her way to visit Chanita in the hospital or at home. They aren’t friends so why would she? What I did expect was that she would show some concern, and she didn’t. Watching last night’s episode confirmed to me that Chanita’s health was not on Pilar’s radar as something to be concerned about.

Then it happened – Pilar lied about not knowing what was going on with Chanita (as confirmed by Erin who doesn’t say a lot, but when she does, it’s golden). I just couldn’t take it anymore. Yes, I was disrespectful to Pilar on that boat but she’d lost my respect a long time ago. As she talked to me in her condescending tones, calling me “sweetie” and “honey,” I had just had it. The only thing in my hand was a cookie, so I threw it. I did not throw the cookie at her – my aim is pretty good and if I wanted to hit her, I would’ve. But I also know that I might’ve been the target of a battery lawsuit if it had, and I wasn’t going to subject myself to that. And remember when Pilar “joked” about me being skinny at the restaurant? She sure did tell me to sit my skinny behind down on the boat. I bet she was joking then too.

I can take full responsibility for the language I used on the cruise, but I will not back down for standing up for what I believe is right. I hope that at some point, Pilar might take some responsibility for her part in this – she is not innocent. Pilar said on the boat that night that we’re not friends, we will never be friends, that I’m never invited to her house, and that I want her life. Why on earth would I be cordial to someone who has been so rude and disrespectful to me? She let me know exactly how she felt about me on the cruise that night – and I didn’t mince words either. You do see me shut up at one point though – nothing was getting accomplished and I was tired of the drama. I was over it.

I know this was a long blog but I had to tell what happened behind-the-scenes so people had a better understanding of why I blew up. People say that I am jealous of Pilar because of her money and beauty. If it’s the money, wouldn’t I be hatin’ on Amanda too? Amanda is loaded – like tens of millions of dollars loaded – but I love her to death and she has become a great friend from shooting the show. So is it beauty? I think Pilar is stunning. I said it – STUNNING! She is a beautiful, beautiful woman. But I’ve been around plenty of beautiful women and beauty is certainly not something I covet – that would make me pretty shallow.
If Pilar takes issue with anything I’ve said in this blog, she is more than welcome to post her own blog entry – and I encourage her to do so if I somehow misinterpreted her behavior.

Make sure you tune in for the next episode - Pilar and I aren’t done yet. But you’ll also see what can happen when we push our issues aside in the name of football.

Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook - Football Wives Episode 6

I loved this episode of Football Wives! There is so much to talk about – galas, hating, transitioning and teamwork – there is a little something for everyone, and here’s my behind-the-scenes take on it all!

We went horseback riding the day after the boat ride and tensions were high. Amanda and Chanita declined Pilar’s invitation to attend and I had serious reservations, but I truly thought it might be a good opportunity to try to work things out. We hit up Nash Farm in Grapevine and even though things were obviously tense, we managed to have a good time before sitting down for lunch. The horses were a little out of control that day – Erin’s horse even tried to buck her off. Turns out a big storm hit about 30 minutes after we left – I guess they knew something was brewing.

I had to chuckle watching the show when Pilar commented that I was sitting across from her. The picnic table was rather cozy – I’m not sure where she wanted me to sit. Anyway, I was hungry and knew I wanted to extend an invitation to talk privately about what happened on the cookie cruise.

Brittany, Erin and I immediately started joking about drinking when we sat down. We’d been provided with water and soft drinks – horseback riding and alcohol consumption don’t really mix so there was no alcohol being served that day (bummer). As the conversation continued, the ladies began chatting about the boat. Pilar did imply that Ryan and George “let” all that nonsense (a.k.a. Cookiegate) go down. Like Chanita doesn’t like liars, thieves and folks who can’t drive, I don’t like it when people disrespect or talk about my family. What viewers didn’t see during the cookie cruise was Ryan turn around at one point and ask me if I was OK. If I had said, “No,” I promise you he would’ve intervened. I told him I was fine, and since he knows I can fight my own battles, he stayed out of it. I was so upset that Pilar would even go there and discuss the husbands as if I wasn’t sitting right in front of her, and while several retorts instantly popped into my mind, I really, really wanted to avoid another argument so I kept them to myself and invited her over to chat.

Since Pilar told me on the boat that I was never invited to her house, I figured I’d invite her to mine for a one-on-one talk. I don’t know if I was actually expecting Pilar to accept my invitation but I was hoping she would. I really do think it could’ve been a good opportunity to put our issues on the table. I never thought we’d become best buds, but I did think we could acknowledge and respect our differences and move on. I apologized for my part in the disagreement and asked her to do the same, and she refused. When Pilar declined the invite, I was done but she kept going when I had made it clear I had no intentions of having that discussion that day. By now, viewers should know that if the Jazzmaster gets jazzy, I’m not going to back down.

Pilar told me she was “saving me” - I do wonder from what. Eternal damnation? Her wrath? Jazz hands or spirit fingers? Was she going to throw a sandwich at me? You then hear me say, “Praise the Lord,” and, “Make sure you answer your phone that way.” Pilar does, in fact, answer her phone that way. For some of us, “Praise the Lord” or “PTL” as we like to call it has become a bit of a joke. It may come up in the next couple of episodes – you’ll have to tune in to see.

Fast forward a week to the football game. There is DRA-MA behind this scene that viewers didn’t get to see, but you know I’m going to tell you about it. It was brought to my attention earlier in the week that Pilar was upset that I “assaulted” her with a cookie on the cruise. It’s my understanding that she thought the reason Mercedes left the show was because she threw a pen at Chanita and that because I threw something at her, I should be excused from the cast. I was not happy that Pilar tried to get me kicked off the show and that certainly wasn’t going to help us repair any relationship we might have had.

The day of the football game was actually my son Will’s 6th birthday. We’d had a wonderful birthday dinner for him that evening. Shortly before we left for the football field, I received a phone call that Pilar had decided SHE was ready to talk, and that we’d talk before the football game. Call me selfish, but I was having none of it. I’d extended the olive branch and she turned me down – I was not willing to do things on her terms, especially not on my son’s birthday. Like I said before – I was done.

To show you how over the drama I was, go back and watch the football scene. I had on a red shirt that was folded up. Why? Early that week, I’d had Chanita make the shirt and it said “PTL” across the front. Knowing that Pilar would’ve picked up on my message and the drama it would’ve caused, I decided not to show it. Contrary to what a lot of people think, I do not hate Pilar, nor do I like the conflict between us – the nonsense has been so physically and emotionally draining (a point I bet she and I agree on). I was not going to go out of my way to create more drama for the sake of good television. We ended up having a great time that night – and honestly, it was a very cool experience! Think about it – we played a football game while Rocket Ismail, Deion Sanders, Ryan Neufeld, Leonard Davis and David Buehler coaching, cheering and watching from the sidelines. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, although I think we’d all be up for a rematch!

This episode had some other really great moments that have to be discussed. Let’s start with Chanita and Brittany standing outside the club when the panty-less drunk girl (now that was a good example of someone with liquid courage) goes off on the ladies. As football wives, we often encounter this during games and in the media – like Brittany said, when everything is great, you’re a hero. When players make mistakes (because, alas, they are human), they become targets. I laughed when Chanita referred to George as “False-Start Foster.” I remember sitting in the stands during a game in Buffalo when Ryan had three holding penalties called on him. It’s hard not to react every time an anonymous someone cusses out your husband or tells him he hopes he loses his job. It’s an unfortunate aspect of the game that we have to learn to live with. Just-a-girlfriend Brittany has already learned this tough lesson.

One aspect of our lives that has been overshadowed by the drama is our community service involvement. Football wives are very involved in charitable work – it’s our way of giving back. Many pro-athletes have their own foundations and often-times the wives are running them. George and Chanita felt their heartstrings tugged on a trip to Swaziland. Recognizing a need for support and education, they created Beyond the Game. Chanita lives, eats, sleeps and breathes this foundation and I was so excited to support the charity by attending her black-tie event. Melani’s performance was the absolute highlight of that night for me though. She is such an amazing performer and I remember glancing up at Rocket on the stairs beaming at her with pride. You can check out more of Melani’s music at melaniismail.com. She really made the charity event special.

One of the things they didn’t show on Football Wives was our shopping trip to Tootsies in Dallas where we tried on amazing black tie gowns for Chanita’s event. I tried on this stunning Monique Lhuillier chocolate chiffon gown with gold beading – it fit like a glove! But it was also $5,500! Needless to say, that dress stayed at Tootsies. The night of the gala, our resident fashionista Erin showed up in a amazing ensemble and sure enough, she had a Monique Lhuillier skirt that was fabulous! All the ladies that showed up looked amazing that night.

While Chanita and I attended the Willis & Woy wives event, the Dallas ladies were attending another incredible gala. Erin made the following statement on Facebook and I wanted to share it because she hits the nail on the head:

“*Note* I don’t say a lot but when something important gets overlooked I feel the need to speak out. That “gala” that the Dallas Cowboys Women were at was the biggest fundraiser for the SPCA of Texas. The Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association raised over $100,000 for the SPCA of Texas at an event held prior to Football Wives taping so we were offered a table. Not the only cause we benefit. Also overlooked was Amanda’s shopping event at Blinc. A portion of the proceeds from that shopping night were donated to gulf restoration efforts. I could go on about the amazing things these current and former NFL wives do, but apparently this is a show focused on drama so I will spare you those details.”

I’m telling you – Erin doesn’t say much but when she does, it’s GOLDEN!

I know what’s coming up on the next episode and it is so sweet – I hope you tune in to check it out. You don’t want to miss it. In the meantime, check out a few of the other charitable organizations the ladies of Football Wives support!

Dawn Neufeld
Garth Brooks’ Teammates for Kids Foundation
Layla Grace Foundation
Tacke Cancer Foundation

Melani Ismail
Women Called Moses

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