Throughout the first season of Football Wives, we’ve been hearing Dawn Neufeld‘s take on the series via her Dawn Neufeld’s Playbook blog for us. For an all together new perspective, Dawn’s husband, Ryan has written up a post regarding his take on the show, where he is with his career and how he feels about sharing such sensitive information about his family’s financial situation. It’s a nice look back and primer for the season finale, which will air Sunday at 9:30/8:30. (Watch the drama-heavy finale preview at the Football Wives video page.)
(And speaking of husbands, were you aware that Erin‘s man, Matt McBriar is leading the NFL in punting? The more you know!)
Ryan’s thoughts are below…
I’ve been keeping up with Dawn’s blog and have really enjoyed how well she’s been explaining the way certain situations took place on Football Wives. I can’t help but notice some of the negative feedback she’s been getting from the blog. In particular, there have been several comments that Dawn embarrassed me by being so open about our financial situation. I can tell everyone that my wife did nothing to embarrass me on the show. I appreciate her being so real. People have talked about her on the stripper pole on the boat. I was there and didn’t have a problem with it. I enjoyed watching the ladies relax and have a good time. They deserved it after all the stress and work in shooting the show.
Before Dawn agreed to take part in the show, we had a discussion about our “reality.” We agreed that we were going to make sure that this reality show would actually live up to its name and that we would be open and honest. I certainly don’t have any problem with what has been aired on the program. Having financial difficulties is the reality of millions of Americans around the country right now. We are by no means immune to the struggling economy because I played football. My last year in the NFL was in 2007 and for 3 years we have been living off of what I made. I left the NFL when the economy started to decline so even though I looked for a job, it was difficult for me to find employment that allowed flexibility for me to continue playing football if the opportunity arose.
I was 12 when I started playing football. I fell in love with the sport immediately and knew I wanted to play at the highest level. I excelled in the sport pretty quickly. All through little league and high school I was praised by friends, teachers, faculty, adults in the community, local news paper, etc. Every day I would do whatever was necessary for me to get better and continue to the next level. It took a lot of hard work to get me from little league, to Junior Varsity, to making Varsity as a Sophomore, to getting a full scholarship to UCLA, to finally making it in the NFL and playing 7 years (four more than the average career). I was never a superstar player but I did my job and did it well. I can leave the sport knowing that I truly accomplished something, even without a lot of fame and fortune.
The 20 years I played football, every single minute of every day was planned out for me and my life revolved around the game. Obviously during the season a lot of time is required. During the offseason, I would have surgery and/or rehab the injuries I sustained during the season, then I’d start training to get ready for the upcoming season. In the NFL there are coaching sessions, mini-camps, organized team activities (which are more practices), then I’d get a few weeks off before going to training camp. Being a pro-football player is a full-time, year-round profession. As players, we get so used to people telling us what to do, where to be, how high to jump, how many yards to run. When that stops, it is hard to establish a life and routine after football.
Most of my life, I chased a dream, and that was to be a pro ball player. Now, at 35, I have to start from scratch to find a career. Dawn and I recently had a conversation and I made a comment that I wish I hadn’t played in the NFL and gone right into a career after college like many of my old college teammates who have good, steady careers now. That way we might not be in situation we’re in. Dawn said something to me that was on point: “Then you are questioning God’s plan.” She is exactly right. I don’t regret playing. It was a great experience and I am proud to have played in the NFL. I know many people dream to be able to say that and can’t. I don’t take for granted how lucky I was. Hindsight is 20-20 and looking back, there are things I’d change, maybe manage our money a little better. But I have no regrets.
Our situation now “is what it is,” and I am in no way embarrassed by it and I’m glad we’ve been able to show people what a majority of professional football players experience in real life. It is a trial in our lives that we are going through and I am 100% confident that God will bring us out of it. Why would I be embarrassed of that? If anything, we have more people praying for us now. I am sure He has something to teach us during this time, and when we persevere, Dawn and I will be stronger as husband and wife, and as individuals. Until then we are going to hold our heads up high and keep moving forward.