When people find out that I wrote a book that takes place in the world of the NFL, the first thing they always ask is, “So this is about your life, right?” To which I answer with a strong and emphatic, “No, no, not even remotely close at all.” So I figure, since I’m here, I should take this opportunity to clear up any questions on what’s real and what is totally “The Hills”-level exaggerated.
Honestly, when I sat down at my computer and decided to give writing a go, I very vividly remember thinking there was no way I would ever write a sports romance. Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading them, but the books I read about football were missing a lot of the things I was actually experiencing as an athlete’s wife. The NFL sounds pretty glamorous without the players getting cut and concussions. But I guess, in the words of the great Justin Bieber (with a cameo by the equally great Jayden Smith), “Never say never.”
When I started writing Intercepted, I knew there were certain experiences that had to be told. I knew if I went ahead and wrote the sports romance I wanted to write, there would be elements of truth alongside all of the drama I had a blast creating. Lucky for me, my husband played in the NFL for eight years, so I had a lot of inspiration to draw on.
First things first, the women I met while my husband was playing in the NFL are nothing like the “wicked wives” from my book. I was 19 when I moved to Baltimore with my now husband. I was not a wife—I wasn’t even a fiancée. I mean, I couldn’t even drink yet! But unlike the women in my book, the women I met in real life were nothing short of amazing. They took me in like I was their little sister, inviting me to dinners and movies, to their houses to watch the games when the guys were away. They showed me the kind of woman I wanted to become. Their loyalty knew no bounds, and their kindness wasn’t something they ever hesitated in showing.
I still remember the time right after my husband was traded from Baltimore to Green Bay. I was 37 weeks pregnant, and we had an 18-month-old as well. Some of the other wives and I all had babies right around the same time, and we signed up for the same mommy-and-me class. My husband was gone, and when I mentioned I needed to go grocery shopping, my friend, who is still one of my close friends today, met me at my elevator-free apartment and carried all of my groceries up four flights of stairs for me.
Those are the NFL wives that I know.
There really was a wives’ group. We met up and discussed community outreach we wanted to participate in. Sadly, though, there were no margaritas or glitter gavels involved. We did, however, have matching vests, and I still have mine tucked away in my closet.
Also in my book, the players all live in the same community of mansions. This is true. Except instead of mansions, the majority of the team lived in the same neighborhood of moderately priced homes and apartment complexes. Have you ever heard the saying that NFL stands for Not For Long? Well, that saying is accurate AF. And the vast majority of the team aren’t making millions of dollars and won’t invest in a house that they might not last a year—or even a month—in.
The one part of Intercepted I really tried to keep as close to reality as I could were the injuries. I met my husband in high school. I watched him play high school, college and professional football, and I can tell you that watching him get hit never got easier. Hearing the crack of helmets—even above the voracious roar of the crowd—would make my stomach turn. There’s a helplessness and a loneliness that can’t properly be described. You watch the person you love get hit repeatedly with so much force it can be compared to getting in multiple car accidents. There would be times when I would meet some of my friends to watch the games together, and their husband would get injured. The deafening silence that would take over the room as we’d crowd her, turning up the TV and waiting for the announcer to give us news or, even worse, see him give a thumbs-up from a stretcher carting him off of the field. Knowing that your significant other’s safety and your financial stability could end with one hit made the games more of a chore than anything else at times.
That got a little dark, didn’t it?
Don’t worry, I know how to lighten it up. . . . Crystals!
There are a lot of references to glitter, crystals and margaritas in my book. Part of this is because that is exactly what I imagine my fantasy life to solely consist of, and the other part is because crystals are one of my favorite WAGS (wives and girlfriends) memories. The first time I saw an altered jersey was when my friend wore one to the game. She cut out lace to go over the numbers and adhered it with a hot glue gun and a buttload (technical measurement) of crystals. It was glorious. It was the kind of DIY I knew I was always destined for, but didn’t even know existed. And once my eyes were open to this fabulous, over-the-top way to show support, I couldn’t look away. That’s how I found Leah Miller, aka the Diamond Duchess. I wish the descriptions I have in my book did even a fraction of justice to the masterpieces she creates, but if you have time and you need a rabbit hole to fall down during your next venture on the internet, I highly suggest you look her up.
Being an NFL wife was a wild journey for me. I’d be lying if I told you it was all roses or that I haven’t had moments where I resented all it stood for. But at the end of the day, I don’t regret a single second of it. I have met wonderful women, traveled the country and watched my husband live out his dream. I know how lucky I am to have the perspective I have been given. I just hope that now I can pass it along and give readers a new and exciting way to experience the crazy world of sports.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of Intercepted.