Friday, August 31, 2012

A Football Wife's Take on Training Camp Cuts... Part II

This time of year brings back so many memories - some good, some bad. As NFL teams across the country wrap up the preseason and prepare to make final roster cuts Friday, I can't help but to reminisce about Ryan's NFL career and the rollercoaster ride life in the NFL took us on.

Part I of this story ended with Ryan contemplating a major decision back in 2003 after being out of football for two years - stay in camp with the Los Angeles Avengers or give the NFL one more shot. Ryan had all but given up on his dreams of making another NFL team and he was understandably wary of sacrificing so much - his health, potential income, etc. - with no guarantee that he'd make that 53-man roster. In the end, the opportunity just couldn't be passed up and Ryan became a Buffalo Bill.

Ryan worked diligently to get ready for camp that year. He was always in the gym lifting or catching passes from a former QB teammate of his at UCLA. One day, Ryan was running routes and he injured his hand catching a pass. We actually contemplated not calling Buffalo - we were scared to death that if they found out he'd gotten hurt, they'd cut him. End of story.

Well, Ryan's injury ended up being pretty bad - he'd actually done some damage to the tendon and there was a chance he needed surgery. He knew he had to call the team. Much to our surprise, the Bills didn't cut Ryan - they actually flew him out to Buffalo so he could be treated by the team doctor.  Several weeks in a good splint did the trick and Ryan was ready to go.
 
 

Training camp that year was intense.  Ryan was vying for the third tight end spot.  The guy he had to beat out had been on the team the year before and was “boys” with then-quarterback Drew Bledsoe.  More politics and a non-skill related hurdle to overcome during training camp.  But Ryan had something the other guy didn’t – versatility.  Ryan long-snapped, excelled on special teams, and could play both fullback and tight end.  Advantage – Ryan.

During camp that year, Ryan got close to blocking a punt during drills and the special teams coach, Danny Smith, took notice and moved Ryan up the depth chart.  This was a huge departure from what Ryan had experienced in Seattle.  Ryan finally felt like he was being given a fair shot. 
 
 
The Bills spent some time in Cleveland practicing with the Browns during camp that year.  After a particularly good special teams practice, Coach Smith came up to Ryan in the hotel and told him he was going to find a way to get Ryan on the team.  The boosted Ryan's confidence about his chances of making the team but he knew there were no guarantees.

The first cut down day came and after a long day of waiting by the phone, Ryan hadn’t gotten the call.  Every time Ryan walked into the facility he wondered if someone was going to come up to him and tell him the coach wanted to see him (and to bring his playbook), but that never happened.  When final cut down day rolled around, if Ryan was going to get cut, he wanted to hurry up and get it over with, so he decided to go up to the facility early instead of waiting by the phone.  While he was walking through the hall to get to the locker room he ran into his tight ends coach Dan Neal who broke the good news – he said, “Congratulations.”  Ryan, stunned and prepared to get cut, replied, “For what?”  Coach Neal couldn’t help but laugh and told Ryan he’d made the team.
 
 
I was practicing law in L.A. and Ryan called to give me the good news.  I took the red eye to New York that weekend to make sure I was in the stands for Ryan’s triumphant and against-all-odds return to the NFL.  Even thinking about sitting in the stands that day listening to the national anthem while military jets flew overhead makes me emotional.  It had been such a long road – I can’t even begin to explain the toll the past couple of years had taken on Ryan, on us, on our marriage.  Ryan later told me he was pretty emotional that day too.  He said he was overcome with every single emotion you can think of – excitement, fear, pride, joy, nervousness, and above all else, grateful that God had given him one more chance.  It was an awesome day.
 
 
I’d already told my firm that if Ryan made the team I was moving to Buffalo and a couple weeks later, the Neufelds were residents of Hamburg, New York.  I printed out “We’ve Moved” postcards to send to all of our friends.  Those postcards sat on my desk for about three weeks.  I was terrified that if I put them in the mail, Ryan would get cut.  After some encouragement from another one of the wives, I put those postcards in the mail and decided to live in the moment instead of always anticipating the bad ones.
 
The rollercoaster continued over the next five seasons.  We survived three coaching staffs, tight ends getting drafted, coaches bringing in their “guys,” a contract expiration, and some injuries including plantar fasciitis in both feet that landed Ryan on IR one year.  Another season, Ryan was a long shot to make the team after the Bills seemed pretty sure about the top two tight ends and their new draftee Kevin Everett.  But for Kevin tearing his ACL during minicamp that year Ryan would not have made the team.  Another thing I remember so clearly is how awkward cut day was.  We were so used to Ryan being on the cut list that when he made the team and we had to say goodbye to good friends, we almost didn't know what to do.  We certainly didn't know what to say.  I remember one of my friends telling me she didn't want to get together for coffee or anything before they left town - it was just too hard.  I understood.

After five seasons in Buffalo, Ryan’s NFL career came to an end. 

 
Ryan's last season didn't go exactly as we'd hoped, but that's another story for another day.  But Ryan's second contract with Buffalo expired after the 2007 season and the Bills weren't interested in re-signing Ryan.  Before we left Buffalo, we invited our friends and family over to meet Bryn and to say goodbye.  Unlike my friend, I wanted the opportunity to see all of our friends one more time before we left Buffalo.  It was tough and I managed to hold it together until Coach Perry Fewell gave me a big hug and told me if I ever wondered how much we were loved in Buffalo to look around.  Surrounded by Ryan's former teammates and coaches, their wives, and our Buffalo friends, we felt the love.  I certainly think that was a better way to go out than getting the call on cut day.
 
 
I read yesterday that with today's team roster cuts, there are now 1,100 free agents out there.  WOW!  I hope this story might encourage them to keep their heads up.  This NFL journey is a difficult one and the truth is at some point, every player is going to get the call...
 
 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Training camp, roster cuts, and injuries, OH MY!

Part II of my take on training camp and Ryan's NFL journey is coming... I need his help recounting some stories and he's already in bed... like I should be.

Stay tuned...


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Football Wife's Take on Training Camp Cuts - Part I

An undrafted tight end out of UCLA, Ryan wasn't supposed to have much of an NFL career.  The chances of actually making a final 53-man roster were slim.  There were no politics involved that might save him.  No high priced contract or wasted draft pick to ensure him a spot.  He was scrub, the kind that wears the little red beanie on his helmet during training camp identifying him as such.  He was the guy that would make sure the starters were prepared for the season.  The odds were against him.  Nonetheless, Ryan was determined to play in the NFL.

Ryan spent his rookie year with the Cowboys in 1999.  Originally signed to the practice squad after being released during camp, Ryan was activated during the season.  He played fullback and special teams that year and found himself on the field with greats like Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Moose Johnston.  He still kicks himself for not getting some memorabilia signed by these guys, but he didn't want to be the goofy rookie asking the vets for autographs.

 

During the offseason, he was allocated to NFL Europe where his team, the Rhein Fire.  That experience was one of the highlights of Ryan's professional football career.  The camaraderie among the guys was refreshing - they all knew they were fighting for their spots when they got back to the states so there were no superstars, no egos.  It's probably the last time Ryan really had fun playing football.  To top of the experience, his team ended up winning the championship game.



While he was in Germany, the Cowboys went through a coaching change.  Ryan came back from Europe and had to prove himself to a new group of coaches.  He was still playing fullback and backed up Robert Thomas after Moose Johnston suffered a devastating neck injury that forced him into retirement.  Ryan had an amazing camp and even started two preseason games after Robert got hurt.  We were feeling pretty good about him making the team.  If the team kept two fullbacks, Ryan was in. 

Well, on cut day the phone rang.  Ryan grabbed his playbook and went to the facility to turn it in.  The Cowboys decided to keep one fullback on the roster and it wasn't Ryan.  Ryan said Emmitt Smith was upset about him getting cut - Emmitt said Ryan did everything right and still got the boot.  This was our first real lesson about the business of the NFL - you could be good, really good, and it still not be good enough.

Ryan waited a couple of days hoping another team would call.  I was perusing injury reports back in Davis, CA, where I was attending law school and diligently reporting my findings to Ryan's agent.  Ryan eventually got a call - the Miami Dolphins wanted to sign him to their practice squad.  Full of hope and anticipation, Ryan flew from Dallas where all of his belongings remained and went to Miami.  He was cut a week later and on his way back to Dallas to pack up his things.
 
A couple weeks later, the phone rang again - it was the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Ryan flew out there and was signed to the practice squad on the spot.  YES!  Ryan hadn't been in Jacksonville a week when Tom Coughlin walked by Ryan during warm-ups and told him, "You've been here a week Neufeld - you better show me something or you're outta here."  Luckily, Ryan didn't freak and lose his cool - he actually said that day was probably one of his best practices ever.  Later that season Ryan was activated and he got his second accredited NFL season under his belt.
 
Training camp 2011 with the Jags - Ryan was doing great but he was competing with a rookie tight end named Ryan Prince the coaches really liked.  Then he suffered a calf injury and a broken finger during camp.  That's when my mantra became, "just stay healthy during camp."  Although Ryan was able to rehab and get back on the field to play during the preseason, he got "the call" on the first cut day.  The Jags kept Ryan Prince - that year was his one and only NFL season. 

Ryan was still in Jacksonville when the unfortunate events of September 11th occurred.  He had to drive home in his Suburban packed with all of his belongings while the country was reeling from the terrorist attacks.  The tragedy gave Ryan some perspective, but it was a long drive home.
 
Ryan waited by the phone and continued working out hoping someone would pick him up that season. He had three workouts over the next couple of months but didn't get signed. That was Ryan's first season out of the league. 
 
I guess this is a good point for me to try to explain what getting cut feels like.  Remember how you felt as a kid on Christmas Eve, full of anticipation because Santa Claus was coming?  Now, imagine waking up the next morning and Santa hadn't come.  All your hopes and dreams - shattered.  For an undrafted player, that disappointment is likely to happen over and over again throughout a very short NFL career.  There was hope and anticipation with every phone call.  There was even more disappointment and self-doubt every time Ryan got back on a plane without a contract.  There were a lot of emotional ups and downs during that time and I'm sure some days Ryan wanted to give up.
 
After the season, Ryan was signed by one of the teams he'd worked out with during the season - the Seattle Seahawks.  We were so pumped - for the first time since I started law school and Ryan entered the league, we were in the same time zone. 

Once training camp started, Ryan was in familiar territory in Seattle - he was once again sporting that red beanie on his helmet.  He was a scrub, camp fodder, a camp body.  Seattle drafted not one, but two tight ends that year - Jeremy Stevens and Ryan Hannum.  There was little hope of Ryan making the team, but that didn't stop him from trying.

 
 
 
That was the year Seattle opened their new stadium.  The Seahawks had a team scrimmage the week before the first preseason game and the stadium was packed.  The special teams starters lined up for punt drills.  Surprisingly, the first punt was blocked.  There was chatter - who had blocked the punt?  Well, it was Ryan - that guy on the look team no one was paying attention to.  The very next play, after the starters had a chance to regroup, adjust, make some changes, Ryan blocked the punt again.  You would think that the special teams coach or even head coach Mike Holmgren would take notice.  A scrub on the look team had just blocked two punts.  Surely Ryan raised his stock and would be given a real chance of making the team, right?
 
Well, that didn't happen.  The two drafted tight ends were given most of the reps during the first preseason game.  Ryan had two plays at tight end - TWO PLAYS.  His action on special teams was limited also.  During preseason games, teams usually give all players an opportunity to prove themselves by giving them reps.  We knew Ryan had no chance of making the team based on his limited playing time during that game.
 
The next morning, we were fast asleep in the hotel room when the phone rang.  Ryan answered the phone and after a very brief pause he said, "Okay." He'd gotten the call. If I remember correctly, it was about 7:15 a.m.  The very early wake up solidified in our minds what we'd already known - he'd been a camp body and never had a chance of making that team.  Ryan got out of bed, threw on his Seahawks' issued sweats, grabbed his playbook and walked out the door. After a few minutes, I wiped the tears from my cheeks and started packing up our belongings.  We drove back to California together, his life packed up once again in his Suburban.  Ryan then spent his second season in a row out of the NFL.  He'd moved ten times in five years.  His career was all but done.  Ryan was devastated.  He was ready to quit.  He didn't want to go through this again.
 
Ryan's NFL career wasn't over yet though.  He got a call from the Buffalo Bills that season - they flew him out for a workout but they didn't sign him.  Again, high hopes followed by disappointment.  I didn't know how much longer Ryan could take this.  It was taking a toll on him, on me, on our marriage.  But Ryan wasn't quite ready to hang up his cleats yet and decided to give pro-football one last chance.

That offseason, Ryan signed with the L.A. Avengers of the arena league and was in camp when the team owner pulled him aside and told him Buffalo called and they were going to sign him.  Ryan had a choice to make - leave the Avengers where he was pretty much guaranteed a spot and an income (after being out of football for two seasons, any savings we had was gone), or take another chance at his NFL dream, knowing his chances were slim and that there were no guarantees.
 
Well....

Check back tomorrow to see how the story ends.

 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Will's First Day of 2nd Grade

It always cracks me up when SAHMs (stay at home moms) get excited about the end of the school year.  I guess they enjoy the break from carpool lines, PTA meetings, running the kids around from activity to activity, homework, etc.  For us (and I assume other families dealing with autism), summer is HELL!  Will thrives when he is in a very structured environment like school.  Summer is anything but structured and it is difficult to keep him from regressing into old behaviors. 
 
Although Will was provided with some instruction through our district's extended school year program, it was hardly enough to keep him busy.  We can't just let Will run outside and play with their friends - he has to be supervised at all times.  Fun activities like bowling or swimming can quickly turn into stress-inducing nightmares thanks to autism.  Finding age-and-ability-appropriate camps is extremely difficult - they are often far away and cost prohibitive.
 
The good news is Will was very excited to meet his new teachers last week and he couldn't wait to get on the school bus this morning.  He was all smiles!
 
 
On the other hand, it has been a long summer for Ryan. He's been home with the kiddos while I'm off at work everyday getting a reprieve from the madness that is our household. 
 
 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The 24th Annual Round Up for Autism

 
The Bobby Norris Roundup for Autism is a fundraising event spanning the DFW metroplex from the Fort Worth stockyards to the Fairmont Hotel in downtown Dallas.  The Roundup was founded in 1988 by Bobby Norris and has raised more than $2 million for the Autism Treatment Centers of Texas.  The multi-day event will take place on September 7th and 8th.  Ryan and I are honored to chair the Pegasus Ball black tie gala on the 8th.  The event will feature live entertainment, live and silent auctions, and fine dining!  It will be our first time attending and we're thrilled to be a part of this incredible event.
 
The Autism Treatment Center was established in 1976 as a non-profit corporation that serves children and adults with autism.  ATC provides services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  Services include: diagnostic, research, educational, vocational, therapeutic and residential treatment for children and adults.
 
For more information or to purchase tickets for the various Roundup events, please visit www.roundupforautism.org.
 
 

Friday, August 24, 2012

She's got legs...

I was looking through some old pictures last night and came across this gem - my mom and dad were getting their groove on.  Gotta love coming across pictures like these!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Real Wives of the NFL - Melani Ismail

Next in my series about real football wives - a "what-is-she-up-to-now" with my VH1 Football Wives castmate Melani Ismail!!!


Melani and I have a lot in common.  Among many things, we grew up in L.A. not too far from each other and Ryan and Mel's husband Raghib "Rocket" Ismail were teammates years ago here in Dallas.  But we really didn't get to know each other until we worked on the show together.  The last Football Wives episode showed an intense conversation between Melani and I - the show seemingly left issues unresolved and definitely lacked closure.  But we're all good!  And over the last couple of years we've shared laughs, tears, triumphs and adversities and I am so blessed to be able to call Melani a friend. 

Before I get into Mel's interview, here are some things you may not know about her:

Melani is HILARIOUS - from rockin' her "Queepha" outfit to wearing Rainbow Brite socks when we played flag football, Melani always had the cast and crew in stitches.

Melani is also an incredibly talented singer.  Football Wives viewers heard Mel's amazing voice for themselves when she took to the stage at Chanita's fundraiser.  Mel has worked with some of the best in the industry and she continues to bless others by developing up and coming talent.

I so appreciate having Melani in my life.  Every woman should have someone like Melani around to be the voice of reason, to help you maintain perspective, to give you hope, and to keep it real!

MELANI ISMAIL



Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Current city:  Dallas, TX

Occupation: Author/Speaker, Singer/Songwriter

Where did you go to school?
I graduated from Inglewood High

When did you get married?
April 2, 1995



How did you and Rocket meet?
In Los Angeles – one of my clients introduced us.

What teams did Rocket play for?
Toronto Argonauts, LA/Oakland Raiders, Carolina Panthers, Dallas Cowboys and Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Meyers Mohawks! Lol (I figured I would give all the teams some love!).

What was filming a reality t.v. show like?
Long days, hot Texas heat and very little food in between! On a serious note, it was a learning experience, for sure. I learned a lot about my own personality and I grew as a person because of it.



 Do you think Football Wives properly depicted “reality?”
Not my reality. My day to day life does not consist of arguing or being involved in constant drama. But I did sign the contract and in that contract it never stated that I would have creative control over content so at the end of the day... I learned that reality does not always mean reality.

What one thing you want viewers to know that they didn’t see on the show?
I really like to encourage people especially up and coming artists. I work with artists all the time and I don’t think they showed that side. As a matter of fact, working with musicians and singers is perfect for t.v.! They are a special breed!


What is the hardest thing about being a football wife?
The hardest part about that life was the injuries [Rocket suffered]. It’s good to be in the healing process, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What are some of the perks?
That’s an interesting question. I guess free game tickets? "Shrugs" on that one.

What was your favorite Football Wives moment?
That would have to be when I went into character Laqueepha Shanaynay! I was in a bad mood that day and really didn’t want to be bothered. I was over the whole thing by then and was mostly irritated. But for some reason as I went into that closet to change into the "hoochie dress", the Melani that wasn’t trying to put on air came out. Anyone who knows me personally knows that I love to laugh and make other people laugh. So when I saw that "fly" wig, the fun "me" finally came out.


What was your least favorite Football Wives moment?
Unfortunately there were far too many.  I complained a lot, until my mother pulled me to the side and said suck it up, and see it for what it is. I wish I had listened sooner because it would have made it much easier.

Do you wish Football Wives would’ve come back for a second season? What do you think went wrong?
I was kind of torn actually. I saw that doing television could be fun but overall I don’t feel that the experience was the best fit for me. I felt out of sync most of the time. But it was my first time doing something like that so maybe it was just the learning curve that made it difficult. So, I guess I am leaning more toward a no. I think what went wrong is a loaded question and would be speculation on my part. It just wasn’t meant to be.


How has life after football been for you and Rocket?
To answer your question, our life is what it has always been... blessed. Not without ups and downs, but blessed nonetheless.

Will you let your sons play football? Why or why not? Do they play any other sports?
I don’t prefer it, but I have learned that I can’t keep them from playing just because our experiences were hard. If they do decide to play for a living then we can certainly teach them through the lessons we learned, especially the part about treating it like the business it is. And, yes they play other sports which is great.

What’s one thing that might surprise people about you?
I’m not a great dancer except when Michael Jackson songs come on!

What’s something on your bucket list?
I don’t do bucket lists.


Do you have a favorite NFL team?
I always went with whatever team Rocket played for at the time. I like any team that treats my husband with respect.

Favorite movie?
The Five Heartbeats!!!!!

Favorite food?
Mexican food done right! Not that fake stuff.

Favorite t.v. show?
The Office with Michael as the boss. Steve Carell is hilarious!

What charities do you support?
Emmitt and Pat Smith Charities, Women Called Moses, and anybody I see giving back for real.

What projects are you working on?
I just wrote a book called The Freedom of Letting Go and I am currently promoting the book and am part of a speaking tour with some other women. I am also finishing up the music to go with that book, as well as writing songs for a few movie projects, one of which I wrote with my sister. I’m just going into the doors that God opens so it could change tomorrow and I cool with that!




 You can find out more about Melani at www.melaniismail.com

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Real "Wives" of the NFL - Football Wives Edition! Mercedes Nelson

Recently I decided to introduce my readers to real football wives and figured catching up with my VH1 "Football Wives" castmates would be a great place to start!  Last week I featured Amanda Davis.  This week, we're catching up with Mercedes Nelson!


You might be thinking, "Who is Mercedes Nelson?"  Well, Mercedes appeared on a couple of episodes early in the season.  She held her own arguing with Chanita but got a fierce talking-to about Jesus from Amanda.  And because you can't have a "wives" show without at least one cast member who is "just a girlfriend," adding the ex-girlfriend of a high profile player to the mix was a no-brainer (it works for "Basketball Wives").

I was concerned when I heard there would be an ex-girlfriend on the cast.  I couldn't imagine what her story was and how it would add to the dynamic of the show.  Was she the groupie type?  A scorned ex trying to get back at her former baller boyfriend?  Someone trying to make a name for herself?  Then I got to know Mercedes and realized how important her story was.  You see, there are a lot of women out there doing anything and everything they can to land a football player.  For some, dating an NFL player is like hitting the lottery.  Nice cars, VIP treatment at clubs and fancy dinners are enough to cause some women to lose their minds and put up with all sorts of craziness.  But not Mercedes.

My initial impression of Mercedes is that she is stunningly beautiful!  I quickly realized that she's got the brains to back up her beauty (smart girl rock) and she is such a sweet and wonderful spirit.  When I found out she walked away from a not-so-great relationship with said unnamed high-profile player, I knew she had strength and she was about more than being someone's trophy or arm candy (we know how that worked out for one of my castmates).  Mercedes really did bring something special to the cast and I was (a) disappointed when she left the show and (b) was bummed they didn't feature her more and tell her story. 


So, without further ado, here's your chance to catch up with Mercedes!



Hometown: Paramaribo, Suriname (South America)
Current city: Sherman Oaks, California
Occupation: Marriage & Family therapist & Fashion Designer
Where did you go to school? Pepperdine University
You’re a newlywed! Tell us all about your new husband and wedding! Most importantly, is he a football player?
I love being married, with so much going on in my life it is comforting to know that I have a good man who supports me and who’s all mine. J  Our Wedding was great, we kept it nice and small. Since most all of my family members are still in South America, we just had some close friends in attendance. The wedding was a big accomplishment for us as we pulled it off mainly on our own, with no planner - I made my dress, our bouquets and seating cards.  It was quite a creative project! Oh, I almost forgot the importantly part of the question; No, he is not a football player ;)





Tell us about your wedding dress – did you design it?
Yes, I did design my own wedding dress. I first decided to buy one and avoid the stress of making one myself. However, one night I took a shot at it, and I designed, sewed and finished it that same night. It came out pretty good; especially being the first wedding dress I’ve ever attempted. It was a mermaid cut with a laced-up back going down my spine.



Tell us about your clothing line Merci Belle – what is your inspiration? What celebrities are wearing your looks and where can we get more information?
Merci-Belle is my clothing line for women; young and not-so young. ;)  I try to keep my line hip to the newest fashions, while still incorporating my own flavor into them. Right now I’m also trying to expand to a male collection of T-shirts, so Im excited to see where that goes. I get inspired randomly, whether by seeing an interesting style in a window or the colors in a painting. Since I sew all my pieces myself, a lot of time and effort goes into it, but I love what I do and take pride in doing it. So far, Rosa Acosta (model), and Shanelle (from Young Money) have worn my clothes to the BET awards and other events, but I haven’t really pushed the line out to celebs yet, so hopefully my pieces will be on many more celebs in the future.  My line can be found at www.mercedesnelson.com

What was filming a reality t.v. show like?
Interesting! It had its ups and downs.  I actually had a lot of fun shooting Football Wives - I was able to meet new people, experience new adventures and experience the reality t.v. life.
On Football Wives, all we knew is that you were the ex-girlfriend of a high profile player – can you tell us who that ex was?
Well, yes it was Marion Barber
What was it like dating a high profile athlete?
Besides it being long-distance with me living in California and him in Dallas, it was a normal love relationship. He wasn’t the flashy type who loved the lime-light so we got to be a normal couple enjoying normal fun things. He was very down-to-earth, and that’s exactly what kept us together back then.
What is your opinion about groupies?
I don’t really have an opinion about groupies. I believe that it would be unfair for me to bash them as a whole.  I’m sure they all have their own motives and hey, if it works for them and they don’t mess with MY man, I have nothing to say about them. Quite honestly, I believe that many times, wives and girlfriends have these hard-core negative feelings about “groupies." Hhowever, IF a man does not act on the temptations of this groupie, she should never be a threat or even a conversation. So I think the emphasis entirely is often placed on the wrong person - the groupie doesn’t owe any wife or girlfriend an explanation for doing what she does, the husband or boyfriend does! ;)
What REALLY happened when you left the show?
Chanita and I got into an altercation, which left me with the option of continuing on with the show or coming back to California where I had a good opportunity for my line and to finish up school. Since the money would be the same as if I would’ve stayed, I decided to leave the show and come back home. It was the better choice for me.

Were you disappointed with your role or how you were depicted on the show?
Umm, I was disappointed that the way my role turned into something completely different through the magic of editing. It was strange seeing which footage they kept and which they discarded. But hey, I guess that’s the risk with reality tv; you never know until it airs if you’ll be the villain or the hero.
Do you think Football Wives properly depicted “reality?”
Not exactly. I think that it depicted too much negativity and drama, when in reality there were so many good times that occurred during the taping that ended up being thrown out. It’s sad that drama and negativity is so much more preferred by viewers than fun, healthy relationships.
What one thing you want viewers to know that they didn’t see on the show?
That I came on the show, not only to push my line, but because I wanted to represent the women who are single or dating non-celebrity men while still achieving much success in life and who are comfortable in their own skin making their own money and taking pride in who they are.
One scene we filmed that viewers didn't get to see was you teaching the ladies a sexy burlesque dance - what was that like? Are you still dancing?
I loved that taping!  It was so much fun to teach you ladies how to perform the burlesque dance. Especially when I saw the fancy outfits you ladies wore.  It was so much fun because everyone got into their performance and had a good time. You killed it by the way Dawn - it almost seemed like familiar territory to you.  I still try to dance as much as time allows.  I'll either take Zumba classes or dance at home.  It’s a great way to exercise while having fun and enjoying the work-out.
What was your favorite Football Wives moment?
I had several.  I would have to say my favorite was when you (Dawn) and Melani had to dress up in “hoochie” clothing after losing the golf bet. It was hilarious, and yet so good to see how much of a good sport you two were about the whole thing. Other moments included the going away party for the hubbies at Dawn’s house, of course the burlesque dancing, and the many fun lunches and dinners we had, before all the drama that is.

What was your least favorite Football Wives moment?
Ugh, the drama with Chanita about the fashion line (I believed it could’ve happened so much smoother than the way it did), and then the follow up drama with Amanda at her house (which by the way, came out of the blue to me, hence my tears; I was shocked! LOL).  Either way, I can only laugh at it all now.
What’s one thing that might surprise people about you?
That Dutch is my first language and that I am crazy about dogs (if I could I’d want to take in all  stray dogs).
What’s something on your bucket list?
Having my line featured in the big department stores and being a very successful therapist. I would also like to star in a big movie with Tom Hardy or Robert DeNiro (absolutely fantastic actors).
Do you have a favorite NFL team?
Nope, not really a sports fan.
Favorite movie?
Set it Off, Coming to America and Indecent Proposal
Favorite food?
Hawaiian BBQ, Japanese & Soul Food (I think I love all kinds)
Favorite t.v. show?
Breaking Bad & Everybody Loves Raymond
Do you support any charities?
I support Act Today (Autism Charity) and had a fashion show last year in support of them. I look forward to doing more - especially for animal charities and charities that help abused women and children.
You are a multi-talented and multi-faceted woman - what other projects or endeavors are you working on?
Besides my fashion-line, I am working at one of the best rehabilitation centers in California for drug and alcohol treatment where I work therapeutically with some of the clients. I am hoping to stay connected in that field as I’ve grown to love it. Addiction is a growing problem in the world, and I would like to keep doing work and research with these clients to help reduce the relapse rate. Perhaps I would like to do a show combining marriage and family therapy with drug and alcohol rehabilitation.
Any plans for babies in the near future?
Haha! Great question, but no solid answer on it YET! My husband and I would like to start within the next two years, so we’ll see. He loves kids so I know we will love starting a little family of our own in the near future.