IT HAPPENED, Y’ALL.
GEHRIG WAS ACTIVATED FOR THE KANSAS CITY CHIEFS IN WEEK 13 OF THE NFL SEASON.
But you know it wasn’t that easy, right? Let’s rewind a couple weeks.
I’ve spent the majority of this season in a funk. It just wasn’t panning out for us. We went through camp, got cut, put back on practice squad and that seemed like our infinite fate. My focus shifted towards other things. I’m still working full-time and writing part-time, but I wanted to engulf myself in other things – channel my skills and effort into anything that could distract from the “what if” and “what’s next?” I began volunteering with a few local organizations, coordinating weddings part-time and focusing on planning our own wedding. For once, football was on the back-burner; and guess what: the world didn’t stop turning. It was okay. It was…until an injury occurred.
ASK ANY NFL FAMILY AND THEY WILL CONFIDENTLY TELL YOU, NOBODY WISHES AN INJURY UPON ANYONE. EVER.
But in this business, even when you’re on the same team, you’re still competing against the guy next to you. An opportunity opened up.
Aware of this injury, the opportunity crossed my mind constantly throughout the week. I waited for signs from G, but we’ve been disappointed so many times before, so I brushed it off. After he returned from practice that Saturday afternoon, we made plans to grab lunch and do some holiday shopping. We ate at the table, discussing our plans for the day, when his phone rang. He quickly jumped up and the dogs followed him into the guest bedroom. Confused, I walked in after him and he ended the call by thanking his agent. “What?”
“THEY CALLED ME UP.”
I’d like to think I have a way with words, but there are no words to accurately express what I felt in this moment. It was like one thousand confetti poppers went off in my chest, I SHRIEKED and jumped into G’s arms, the dogs (sensing my excitement) were jumping all over us and I ran around the apartment screaming at the top of my lungs. I stopped, only to gasp for air outside and thank God and steady myself – was this real? Was this the reward for so so so many disappointments? We weren’t allowed to tell anyone until the team officially announced it, so we went about our dumb little errands with giant grins. Even though a gray, soggy snow storm was creeping into KC, it was such a beautiful day.
On Sunday I told my parents, and they shared my relief, gratitude and utter bewilderment. Our families were over the moon. I recieved so many congratulatory texts from friends from high school, college, Tuscaloosa, Orlando, Cleveland, South Bend. I was honestly in awe of the support; every single person that backs us – please know that you play a part in this journey. Due to field conditions, the game was moved from Sunday in Mexico to Monday in Los Angeles. In the preseason, G got his first NFL touchdown – so I recreated every aspect of the setting from that night. I ordered a Grimaldi’s pizza and a cannoli, threw my old (#4) Dieter jersey on, had a lime Truly can in hand. Multiple family members and friends had called, sharing their excitement and draining my battery; I went to plug my phone in just as the national anthem was slated to begin. As soon as I reached for the cord, I was caught off guard with a buzzing sensation, alerting me of a text…from Gehrig:
“Not playing. I’m inactive. Please let our families know.”
My heart sunk into my throat, I couldn’t swallow – my eyes bulged at the text. Confusion replaced the electric excitement that had pulsated through my body since Saturday morning. The reporter tweets confirmed it; the injured player was somehow active – meaning G was out. It was the hardest gut punch I’ve ever felt – how could we get so close and STILL have it ripped away? What were we doing wrong? Why didn’t we deserve it? He remained sidelined, in his sweats. I cried throughout the game, furiously pissed. I tossed the damn pizza (ate the cannoli because: cannoli.) I asked God why – why would he bring us so close and allow this to happen again?! Despite the constant disappointment, the sting is always sharp and severe. An absolute shootout of a game ended with the Rams winning 54-51.
During the bye week, which happened to be Thanksgiving, we spent the holiday with teammates. Still reeling from the last minute inactive listing, I found a slight silver lining in G remaining on the 53 man roster. I thought back to the previous year, our first holiday in KC. I was gushingly grateful to be celebrating in the city we love so much – why did I let that gratitude go? I let myself become bitter and pessimistic, focused on what we didn’t have. Instead of praying on our situation, I just prayed on myself. Forgiveness, strength, understanding, a reality check – anything to counteract the discouragement.
We were expecting the injured player to heal, but come Thursday, he was listed as “out.” This meant that Gehrig would be completely activated. The excitement came back, but cautiously. I didn’t want to get my hopes up again. Everyone was sort of walking on egg shells – was this really it? Was it another decoy move? The boys returned to California. I felt like I was waiting for something else to awry.
This time, there was no “but.”
G dressed, he warmed up with the recievers, he took the field on special teams, he earned his first NFL tackle (and first NFL penalty…that I totally didn’t agree with but WHATEV.) Seeing him on the field again was worth every single let down. My nerves are shot, my throat is sore, my face is tired from smiling so hard.
It’s hard to watch the person you live for work hard as hell to be within arms reach of their life dream and somehow not be able to grasp it. It’s also infuriating to have zero control, to not be able to do anything about it. Every time something went wrong, I was quick to lose hope. I begged G to talk to his agent about finding a different team, but he was stern and optimistic about this being the team. I’ve learned so much from him on perseverance, persistance, faith, effort and determination. I used to think I never had a “come to Jesus” moment – no tragedy that flipped my world upside down in which I had no choice but to let the lord take the wheel (thank god.) But these past two years have synced together to become that moment for me.
Good things come to those who wait, work, pray & trust.
Nothing is guaranteed (ever, especially in this lifestyle.) But we are so grateful and proud of this moment right now. To our entire support system, thank you for holding on and pushing us and encouraging us no matter what.
Underrated. Uninvited. Undrafted. Underdog.