A Friendly Reminder for Fantasy Football Owners

Football Field 1I wrote this letter last year and every single word of it still rings true today.

 

Dear Fantasy Football Owners,

This, my friends, is the most glorious time of year. The air is a little more crisp, the temperature is slowly dropping, pumpkin spice lattes are being purchased and… it’s football season!

With football season comes fantasy football season. Some of you are very serious fantasy football owners, some enjoy a casual competition, others may have had their spouse twist their arm to participate, while others may have been lured by free food at a draft party. No matter the manner in which you decided to become a fantasy football owner – congrats! You own a “team”! Hopefully, it’s your dream team that will bring you to victory.

Fantasy football can be a very serious competition in some leagues. This competition can lead to some VERY disgruntled owners – men and women alike. Disgruntled owners often feel the need to vent their frustrations to the players they “own” (and the entire world) via social media, which is where I want to focus this letter – the all too popular player bashing that’s ALL over the internet. Yes, my husband plays in the NFL, so this topic is personal.

As we sat around the table for Christmas dinner last year, we were surrounded by several of Jacob’s teammates. In attendance were a rookie, a Pro Bowler, a player who is the highest paid at his position in the league, and several veterans, all of which had been threatened, harassed, ridiculed and belittled on social media. As I listened to the guys talk about things people had written about them on Twitter, I realized that even these rough and tough NFL players can be bullied. There is nothing more cowardly (or silly) than personally attacking someone that you’ve never even met, and yet it happens day after day online. I dare say, not a single one of these online bullies would EVER be brave enough to say to an NFL player’s face what they have said online. Hiding behind their electronic device gives them a sense of security and social media gives them a voice – and a way to voice their opinions directly to athletes through mediums like Twitter.

I’m not naive. I’m not asking for sympathy for NFL players. I realize that they choose to play football for a living and therefore they choose the spotlight. However, they didn’t choose to be bullied, online or otherwise. [Jacob says “bullied” is not the right word to use… But I don’t know what else to call it!]

People feel the need to ridicule players when they don’t perform to their standards, which is just crazy. Have you ever had a bad day at work? Missed a meeting? Been late to an appointment? Lost a client? Didn’t close the big sale? Has your student ever failed a test? Or your child been disobedient? We ALL have bad days at work, no matter the profession. Usually a bad day at work elicits a “better luck next time” or passing the blame to [insert your excuse]. What excludes NFL players from that? The fact that their work is displayed for millions to see each week. Can you even imagine if your work was on network tv and shown to the masses? Yeah, me neither.

It seems so easy to bully NFL players. I mean, on the news they are portrayed (and sometimes rightfully so) as cheaters, womanizers, thieves, drunks, and even murderers. It’s easy to see them as something other than real people. However, when you’re on the inside of this fraternity of sorts, you see things a little differently. Before you decide to bully one of your fantasy football players, remember this: The VAST majority of men playing in the NFL are men of character and integrity. You may see them catch touchdowns on Sundays, but on Tuesdays they are visiting the pediatric cancer ward at the children’s hospital. On Wednesday evenings they are attending Bible Studies. Thursday nights are spent signing autographs for children at the local grocery store. The off-season is spent running non-profits and organizing fundraisers for charities. They use their breaks between practices to call fans with terminal illnesses. These men are not the thugs the media portrays them to be and they are certainly not deserving of the hate that is spewed at them when they drop a pass, throw an interception, or otherwise don’t play to the standard that would have helped win a fantasy football game.

So, fantasy football owners, my one request is this: Please be kind. What you say (or write) says much more about you as a person than the player you are writing about.

Regards,
An NFL wife

Falcons Training Camp Begins

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Atlanta Falcons Training Camp – our first camp picture as a family of 4


Every time we switch to a new team I feel like a rookie wife all over again. Even though this is our eighth season (8? Really? How did that happen?) I was totally lost when I walked into camp in Flowery Branch, Georgia. As I walked in the gates with Luke and Lyla in tow, I realized I didn’t know a single soul. All I could think was, “here we go again”. Switching teams is a very lonely process at first. It takes time to find friends and meet the people that will soon become your support system. I so desperately wanted to see my old friends from Denver, but have already met one or two wives that seem to be very sweet, and for that I am thankful!

Last year, I was pregnant with Lyla and she was born in the middle of camp, so needless to say, we didn’t go to a single practice. In fact, we were away from Jacob for three weeks and it was miserable! I vowed to never be away that long again because as hard as it was on me, it was even more difficult for Luke to not have his Daddy around.┬áSo this year we will be going to practice every single day. Most people don’t realize that NFL players do not get to come home during training camp. They have a few days off during the 3 and a half weeks of camp, but other than that they do not get to come home. I know it’s nothing compared to the deployments that military families endure, but it is still hard to be a single parent and live in a city where you virtually know no one. While it isn’t easy, I sat at camp today and just soaked in how amazing it all is. That Jacob is playing in his eighth NFL season with his third team and we get to sit and watch his dream continue to come true. We are around the NFL so much that I often forget how special it really is… it’s truly a dream come true!

IMG_0516Luke was so excited to go to camp! He is ALL about football right now, but I’m still pushing for golf! Hah!

IMG_0520Atlanta is crazy hot, so Lyla stayed hydrated by drinking pouring water all over herself.

IMG_0563This is the moment we wait for all day! As soon as practice ends, the players head to the fan area to sign autographs and then… its a mad dash to Daddy! It’s so sweet to see how excited they are to see him. They both tackled him after practice today. He was pretty excited to see them too! It is totally worth wrestling my kiddos for three hours in the 100 heat to get to see this moment.

IMG_0536We get to spend about five to ten minutes with him once practice is over and then its back to work for Jacob. Thankfully, we know that we get to see him again tomorrow.

IMG_0569Jacob left his helmet on the field after practice today and Luke asked if he could go get it for him. They walked across the field and Luke had the biggest grin on his face. It was so cute to see how excited he was to be on the field. I think he’s enjoying becoming a Falcons fan.

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Luke Tamme in his daddy’s football helmet at the Atlanta Falcons Training Camp

Swings for Soldiers Classic 2015

Monday, July 13th was the Sixth Annual Swings for Soldiers Classic and it is one of our favorite days of the year! This charity golf event was born in our home in Indianapolis in 2010. Jacob and I decided we needed to give back because we had been given so many blessings. We knew we wanted to benefit our military, so the search for a beneficiary began. As soon as we learned about Homes for Our Troops, we knew our charity had been found. They build specially adapted homes for wounded veterans and they have a four star rating on Charity Navigator.

This year the weather put a damper on the golf, but not on the event’s fundraising capabilities. We are so grateful to our many sponsors and 240 golfers that put up with the crummy weather! We are still getting the final numbers, but we hope to have raised at or above $100,000! WOW! Our cups are overflowing with thankfulness to everyone who donated and to our awesome event coordinators, Amanda Zachary and Julia Peterson!

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Jacob and I with our event coordinators, Julia Peterson and Amanda Zachary at the University Club of Kentucky. These ladies ROCK!

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Thankfully, the weather cooperated through the opening ceremony. Jacob’s aunt Susan sang the national anthem as she does each year. It gives me cold chills to hear those beautiful words and see the veterans standing behind her holding and honoring the flag. It’s certainly one of the best parts of the day! Jacob greeted everyone and read the rules to the golfers and they were off! We had a sell out on both courses at the University Club… what a blessing!

IMG_1185_2This little doozy of a storm blew in around 3:30pm and quickly halted play. The course superintendent blew the horn and sent everyone inside. We were scrambling to decide on what to do and how to keep the 240 golfers happy! Our volunteers (mostly our families) carried chairs inside and collected linens before they were blown away. We had people chasing pop up tents and banners as the 60-70mph winds whipped through the course. We had so many people offering to help, which was wonderful!

We usually have a dinner and live auction in the pavilion after golf, but since that wasn’t an option with the storm, we improvised. Jacob ran the live auction from inside the lounge in the clubhouse. The PA system wouldn’t work, so he stood on a chair and auctioneered as loud as he could to the crowd! The live auction brought in $17,000! WOW! I’m telling you, the Swings For Soldiers Classic supporters are simply amazing! Year after year, they come out and give generously to a great cause.

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Jacob ran the live auction from a chair in the middle of the lounge in the clubhouse! Gotta do what you gotta do!

We also had a silent auction that featured items donated from dozens and dozens of central Kentucky companies and athletes from around the nation including NBA, NFL, MLB and PGA players. Thank you isn’t adequate for how appreciative we are of all those who help make this event so successful!

IMG_1183Lyla was trying to decide which autographed jersey she wants to bid on at the silent auction: Matt Ryan, Peyton Manning, her Daddy, or Julio Jones? Tough choice! Hah!

One of my favorite parts of the event is meeting and visiting with the veterans and their families. Each year we have added a veteran and their family and it’s like a big reunion each year! We’ve had the privilege of becoming friends with some true American heroes over the last six years. Chase Matthews, Kenneth Harker, Brett Bondurant, Jacob Lyerla and Zach Nelson are truly remarkable men!

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This year’s “family” photo

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Our 2014 picture… The Swings for Soldiers family continues to grow!

This year’s recipient is Zach Nelson and his wife, Kylie. They are the most precious couple and just got married this past November. Zach is paralyzed from the chest down, but he has the most amazing attitude! He doesn’t let his injury keep him from living life and I’m so excited for them to move into their specially adapted home later this year. You can learn more about Zach’s story by watching this video.

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Kylie and Zach Nelson with Jacob, Allison, Luke and Lyla Tamme

If you would like to learn more about the Swings for Soldiers Classic, please visit www.swingsforsoldiers.org.