Just moments ago, the NFL preseason officially ended with more than 1,100 players being waived, traded, released or terminating contracts.
We had more friends get waived than get signed. We were also a part of that statistic.
JULY – AUG
This year, I’ve been super busy working a full time job and writing on the side. It has been the best distraction from the wild world of the NFL but also really stressful; I spent the last month constantly rushing – to work, home at lunch to let the dogs out, back to work, back home to care for the dogs, check my writing assignments, remember to cook dinner (usually) cross off tiny wedding planning decisions, check in with G then go to bed for a few hours to do the same thing all over again. Weekends were spent heading up to St. Joe’s to watch training camp. This year I felt like I actually got to be a real part of this organization; last year I was still living in Ohio, so being able to witness training camp and attend with the other girls on the team, that was so rewarding.
3 little bulldogs and I were thrilled to have G back home from camp. He had done well in the first preseason game, then scored his first NFL touchdown in the second game. I still have heart palpitations from that moment. The third game didn’t see much action and we were surprised to see little playing time in the fourth game. It made me wonder: where they saving him? Had he secured his spot? Had he lost his spot? It’s like living in a cloud of anxiety – you don’t know where to look or turn or think, just wait and anticipate cuts. I asked him how he felt leaving the facility and he said he felt good about staying in KC – whether that meant practice squad or 53 man. I never questioned him making the final roster for a second – maybe that’s why it hurts so bad today. Though cuts officially began Friday, we knew our decision would be made Saturday, so I went to bed (exhausted, per usual) but hopeful.
I spent the day working and decided to delete social media for the time being, just an attempt at easing my nerves and staying focused. Our day was eerily similar to last year; enjoying a dinner on the Country Club Plaza, taking in the beautiful day and knowing we could easily be off to a new city, so trying to ignore the countless things we love about this city (despite being borderline obsessed at this point.) We felt much more comfortable with G’s offseason efforts, training camp, preseason success and overall experience here – I couldn’t wait to hear his voice on the phone, see his smile and jump into his arms when they told him he was officially part of the 53 man roster.
That call never came. Just like the invitation to the combine. Just like the call on Draft Day.
We woke up and took our dogs to the park then grabbed coffee, ready to wait this day out together. Hours passed and I sat patiently, stomach in complete knots. As time went on, the anxiety eased slightly. Three other teams expressed interest in singing him. He went off to his man cave to play video games. I binged a few Netflix episodes when he walked into the kitchen announcing, “I’ve gotta go to the facility.” A prickly feeling shot down my spine. Wait – that’s not how this was supposed to go? Wasn’t it supposed to be a phone call? This was all too similar to last year. I jumped up and asked if he wanted me to go with him, to which my typical fiancé replied “…No?” He kissed me goodbye and I watched the digital clock on our oven tick by.
11:02, 11:08, 11:14, 11:17
I genuinely thought that maybe they had seen the endless effort this dude put into this past year, maybe they wanted to tell him in person because it was going to be such a joyous moment for the organization.
How foolish am I.
He texted me to tell me they were releasing him. My heart sank into my stomach and honestly has yet to come back up. It knocked the wind out of me. Last year, in the last preseason game he dropped a pass. This year, I had nothing to look back on and accept as the reason for this outcome. I called my family and the disappointment set in; it’s so crazy – last year we were praying constantly for this exact outcome. This year, I just didn’t feel like it was possible for him to go overlooked AGAIN. Not after what he’s put into this. Not after all those disappointments we’ve had before. This was supposed to be IT. Today was supposed to answer all those questions. Instead of receiving a congratulatory handshake, it felt like a hard slap across the face.
I’m admittedly peeved. You can call it stewing or pouting or sore losing – you can see it however you want. All I see is my fiancé; the guy who loves to interact with fans. Who gave all his club-level tickets away to kids who had never experienced Arrowhead before. The guy who stayed here the entire offseason to practice. The guy who is involved in this community. The guy who picks up a couple extra cans of dog food and tennis balls on a weekly grocery run to donate to the local animal shelters. The guy who would do anything for any member of that team, any member of the personnel, the guy who treats the stadium janitor with the same respect as his own head coach. We have loved our time here and this city, all I wanted was for G to finally receive what’s rightfully his. I am heartbroken, but he is at peace.
He kissed me goodbye and grabbed his backpack to return to the facility and sign onto the practice squad, to continue to work his ass off right next to those guys who get to play on Sunday. Somehow, G continues to see the positive – the opportunity to play on this team, a chance to return to Arrowhead stadium in uniform.
I realize we’re lucky to have this option, to remain in a city we’ve fallen deeply in love with, but I’m not at that point of processing what’s happening yet. My faith is shaken as I just can’t wrap my head around a more deserving person. I know that there are countless families who have no backup plan, no idea where they’re going this week or living next month or what’s next. I’m praying for every player and wife and family who has to experience disappointment and accept the repercussions from this “business.” I wanted to share this experience, as negative as it is, because I’ve shared the highs and lows of this entire journey thus far. I’m trying very hard to keep my spirits up and know that this is another decision crafted by God himself, leading to the life we are meant to live.
To my fellow wives and girlfriends going through free agency; we understand and we’re praying for you. To our families, friends and the entire Gehrig Dieter fan club – thank you for supporting him and attending games and rooting him on, this is his dream and you are the backbone, a major factor in the decision to keep going. To my fiancé, why the hell couldn’t you have just been really into playing like, Chess or something? Just kidding.
G – you are the only reason I am willing to ride this roller coaster. I would go to the ends of the earth for you and endure this level of disappointment every damn day of the year if it meant falling asleep and waking up next to you. You’re the best man I know with the brightest outlook and I don’t know how you persevere but you just keep doin’ it. And it will payoff.