Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook – Football Wives Episode 7

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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 7 is below

Got Me!

I’m not easy to surprise. As a lawyer, I’ve been trained to analyze facts and situations. I ask questions when things don’t make sense. I always have a plan. So when Ryan tried to surprise me several years ago with a week-long trip to a resort in Mexico, I asked so many questions he finally had to reveal his secret and I ruined the surprise. That was the last time Ryan contemplated spontaneity with me – until now.

In addition to our busy Football Wives shooting schedule, I was working my regular job and trying to squeeze in auditions. I was busier than ever and was on autopilot – there wasn’t a lot of time for analyzing the craziness that was my life for the months we were in production. The show producers came to me and told me we were going to plan a special event and as busy as I was, when I heard the plan I was all in. Chanita tells a hilarious story about how she and George got married in their living room during training camp with three fat offensive lineman as witnesses. She talked all the time about how they didn’t have a real wedding, so when the producers came to me and said they wanted to plan a wedding ceremony for George and Chanita, I was all for it!

The plan was for me to pick a fight with Chanita to preoccupy her so we could plan the surprise – I’d talk about her kids or something so she’d contemplate walking me like a dog again. And I tried – we sat at lunch one day and I started going in on her trying to upset her. At one point, knowing how she feels about her kids and Pilar (areas of sensitivity), I even suggested Pilar might be a better mother than Chanita. It should’ve tipped me off that Chanita didn’t go absolutely ham on me that day – I was so focused on trying to upset her that I ignored her uncharacteristic level-headedness. I felt like I’d failed in my mission to set Chanita off – I was bummed.

Earlier that week, I also started asking questions that could have totally ruined the surprise. I asked Ryan about how George was going to leave the team in Omaha to come down for a surprise wedding. Football players miss all sorts of big events during the football season – weddings, babies being born, funerals – football comes first at all cost during the season. Not only did George have a game the day after the scheduled ceremony, but it was an away game in Las Vegas. He should have been traveling with his team, not getting married in Dallas. Ryan deflected my questions – he said the coaches must’ve approved it. That never would’ve happened in the NFL – but I was assured George would be there for the ceremony so I figured his UFL coaches had been more lenient.

Complicating matters, Will and Bryn were both really sick the week we filmed the scene – they both had missed a couple days of school with illness. I’d even called my production assistant that day and told him I didn’t want to be out too late filming because I wanted to be home taking care of them. I found out after the renewal that the original plan was to include them in the ceremony. A suit had been ordered for Will, a flower girl headpiece and basket ordered for Bryn. I can’t even imagine how sweet that would’ve been.

I tried on five different outfits getting ready for Chanita’s wedding – and Ryan saw every single one of them. I would ask him how something looked and he had the same reaction with each new outfit change: “You look fine.” Little did I know that days earlier, he had my wedding gown smuggled out of the house and dry-cleaned and that it was waiting for me at the hotel.

Ryan left the house a couple of hours before I did – he and George were going to film a scene before the ceremony. We’d had different call times before during production, so I didn’t question this arrangement. When my chauffeur-driven car arrived at the hotel, I didn’t question when we sat outside the hotel for 20 minutes while final arrangements were being made upstairs. We did a lot of waiting while filming Football Wives, and playing the “hurry-up-and-wait” game was par for the course. I still didn’t question anything when my production assistant Tommy escorted me upstairs in the elevator. He laughed when I talked about how hard I’d worked on putting together the perfect outfit for the evening. I couldn’t figure out what was funny. It wasn’t until I was standing outside the hotel suite that it finally hit me that something was up. Where was everyone? Why was I the only cast member standing in the hallway? Wait a minute…

I walked in and saw the cameras pointed at me, then I saw the ladies, including Chanita, all dressed to the nines staring at me. And then I saw my wedding dress – I recognized it immediately and then I realized that the surprise was on me! I had no idea that I’d be renewing my vows that night. I was completely stunned and couldn’t believe Ryan was able to pull this off! I really was speechless. The ladies eventually left to head downstairs while I got dressed and had my makeup done. It took me a while to get ready because I kept crying my makeup off. When I finally pulled it together, I put my wedding dress on. I was a little nervous it wasn’t going to fit – whose dress still fits 10 years after the wedding? Luckily, it fit like a glove!

As I made my way outside, I saw no one but Ryan. He was just as handsome as he was on our wedding day almost 10 years ago. It was such an awesome and special moment. When we finished the vow renewal, I finally had a chance to look around and see who was there – other real-life football wives, my producer and friend from a show I worked on, buddies from Buffalo, co-workers, Buehler. Erin even got Mat to show up (he looks mighty spiffy in a suit by the way). Ryan managed to get so many of our good friends there – I couldn’t believe it! The only person missing was my mom. They tried to get her out to Dallas from Los Angeles, but with such short notice, it was impossible.

I eventually noticed that Pilar wasn’t there and I mentioned the fact to Chanita. I didn’t actually expect her to be there – remember, she told me on the cookie cruise that we aren’t friends and that we’ll never be friends. The only reason her absence was even an issue is because of what viewers didn’t see on this episode. Chanita told me that earlier that day the girls had gone shopping for a back-up wedding dress in case mine didn’t fit. To my surprise, Pilar not only showed up, tried on dresses and helped the ladies pick out my alternate dress, but she even joked that they should throw cookies instead of rice after the ceremony. I thought since she made the effort to help pick out the dress, she might put our differences aside and actually show up to the ceremony. I certainly wasn’t disappointed that she didn’t show up – all of the right people were there that night (including the Football Wives production crew – having them take part in the festivities really made the night special). I was a little surprised she didn’t show up though – if she had, it might have been a step in the right direction to find an amicable solution to our differences.

The party went on that night in Pilar’s absence and we had a blast! I hate that the episode didn’t focus more on the ceremony – viewers would’ve seen “just the girlfriend” Brittany serenade Ryan and I with a beautiful song – that girl can sing! They would’ve also seen the Football Wives engage in a cake fight – Chanita, Erin (in a pricey Herve Leger bandage dress), Brittany and David went at it. There was cake everywhere! It was a fun end to an amazing night – definitely a highlight of my Football Wives experience.

But what’s an episode of Football Wives without a catfight? I’ve made the point before that the cast doesn’t see the show until it airs and we have no idea how our story is going to be edited. I was disappointed to see the confrontation scene after the vow renewal ceremony. Viewers might think that I sought out drama by going to confront Pilar the day after the ceremony. In reality, the confrontation happened a couple of weeks after the renewal. So it’s not like I left my adoring husband and kids during prime bonding time to confront Pilar. I didn’t necessarily want to go out to the pool that day, but I knew it would be a chance to tend to unfinished business before we ended production.

What viewers saw wrapped into a three or four minute argument actually went on for a while. I sat quietly at that table and listened as Pilar and Chanita went back and forth for a while. I had to speak up and set the record straight when Pilar kept saying that I envy and don’t like her. Neither were true. Did I expect Pilar and I to be friends? After Football Wives and events that have since transpired, I don’t think we’ll be BFFs any time soon. But I do think Pilar owes me an apology for being disrespectful. First she told Melani that she had apologized and when Melani called her on it, she changed her tune and proclaimed that she wasn’t going to apologize for defending who she is. Don’t apologize for who you are, but take some responsibility that you are not innocent in the drama. Until Pilar owns up to some of her behavior, she and I have nothing else to talk about.

I think it was a discussion that needed to happen – we had lingering issues that needed to be addressed. The good thing is that everyone got to say what they needed to say that day but nothing was resolved that day. I’ll have to revisit this confrontation after the finale to give a little more insider information about why it went down. With one more episode to go before we call it a wrap on season one of Football Wives, the finale is sure to be intense. Stay tuned…

You can contact Dawn via Facebook and Twitter.

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