It was raining all day, and we were already discussing what rain gear we would be packing for the game. I spent the day cleaning, making some game day chili, and trying to stay busy. Night games are always hard to sit and wait around for, and I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels that way! I’m thankful to have Carter now, because he keeps me the most busy to help the time go by faster on game day.
I don’t think there is really anything to fully prepare my own emotions on game day. Even if it is just a preseason game, I am full of nerves and constantly praying for a strong and healthy game. Every year it is a battle to make that 53-man roster. There are some nights I can’t shut my mind off as I try and get to sleep the night before a game. I know most wives feel these exact feelings, and as exciting as the start of football season is, it is also stressful and nerve-wracking. Especially because this year we are with a new team, so it was going to be a different game day experience! After four years in Green Bay, I had game day routines down perfect, but we just need to learn the ropes and will have a routine here in no time as well.
I was able to attend the game last night with my dad, my mother-in-law, and some of our family friends, while my mom stayed home with our Carter bug, (thanks mom!!). Of course, I had no idea where I was really going. I had never been to FirstEnergy Stadium before, so we left nice and early. Traffic wasn’t too bad. I’m happy I had my dad with me to help navigate. Downtown Cleveland reminds me of Downtown Detroit a little bit where the Lions play. Lots of tall bank buildings, but also lots of fun bars and restaurants to go to! The stadium is right on the water which is really pretty. I’m excited to keep exploring down there as the season goes on.
I always like getting to the game early to see a little bit of warmups and to find our seats. Our seats last night were right by the Browns tunnel so we had a great view of the whole field. I have to say, I loved the vibe in the stadium. The music, the environment, and the fans were fantastic and made you even more excited about the game. It also calmed my nerves down a little bit, music helps everything! Seeing Jeff come out for warm-ups honestly gave me chills and tears in my eyes. I know I’m emotional… but I’m just so proud of him! I mean I sometimes have to pinch myself that this is our fifth year in the NFL. God is SO good!
When the game started the Browns looked awesome. The offense and defense were dominating and the crowd was loving it. Jeff was in on special teams in the first half and unfortunately a penalty was called on him. The punt returner on the Bills called a fair catch at the very last second, and Jeff bumped into him a bit which drew the flag. I think it’s always a bummer to see your husband get a penalty flag. Sometimes you think “What! How was that a flag?!” And then there are other times where I feel “Oh crap… that was on Jeff.” This was one of those moments. Jeff excels so much on special teams, so it’s always hard to see him get penalties. It’s hard for any wife no matter what position their husbands play. But I think what’s even harder, and I’m already getting emotional writing this, is seeing your husband get hurt or not pop right back up after being tackled.
Jeff was in on offense in the third quarter. He had a ball thrown to him in some traffic and got hit pretty hard. The hit left him on his hands and knees and very slow to get up. I was sure he had the wind knocked out of him. He was definitely trying to catch his breath. It makes your stomach drop. I was just praying it wasn’t anything serious. And in your mind you’re talking to yourself saying, “Come on Jeff, you’re okay, get back up. You’re okay, please just get back up.” He headed to the sideline slowly, trying to catch his breath but I could tell he was hit pretty hard. Thankfully it was just a matter of catching his breath and he was back out on the field the next offensive series. I don’t think some people realize how much effort it takes to get on and off that field each play. The guys out there are husbands, fathers, brothers, etc. They are real people too and have real families that have their hearts sunk through game day injuries. No matter who gets an injury, even if it is on the opposing team I always pray. Because I know the player who is down and trying to get back up, has a family who is watching, praying, and thinking the exact same thing, “please get back up.” It’s definitely a whole other world when you’re on this side of the game.
In any job there are always learning experiences and new aspects to try and improve. Unfortunately the Browns lost this preseason game, but that just means there are things to work on, and get better for the next game. Their third preseason game is home next week against the Eagles, and I’m considering taking Carter to the game… but also seeing that it is at 8:00pm, that would be rough with bedtime. We’ll see! It’s been fun seeing Carter start to realize what Jeff does. Now when he sees an orange helmet on TV, or in a picture he says, “dada!” It is so sweet.
We are SO excited because Jeff finally got to check out of the hotel and gets to stay at home for the rest of camp now! I’ve been waiting for this day for such a long time. It’s been lonely around here and even if he doesn’t get home until late at night, it’s still the thought of having him here. As I’m writing this, Carter is already outside playing with Jeff, and I have our Saturday soul foods starting to cook. It’s Jeff’s day off, so I planned a good dinner! We are smoking a ham in our Traeger grill, and I have plenty of sides dishes to go with it. I can post those recipes eventually too, because I know you don’t want to miss out on them!
There were many emotions writing this post, and I wasn’t sure if I should get deep into them, but I think it helps others understand how it is being an NFL wife. Thank you again for checking in with us and being so supportive. I can’t wait to share the Next Play with you!
Lots of love and God Bless,