DENVER — You’ve likely heard the quote, “Behind every great man is an even greater woman.” And some of the Denver Broncos players will tell you that statement is true.
Aristea Brady got to break bread with a few of the women responsible for holding up our NFL all-stars, and they shared their secrets on staying strong for their families.
“There’s never a dull moment…when people are like ‘I wish I was an NFL wife and did nothing all day,’ I’m like ‘what NFL wife do you know?!'” says Leah Harris, Chris Harris’ wife.
It’s not just their husbands doing sprints. “I wake up maybe 6:30 or so, my son isn’t awake by then, but Chris and I will pray together… kind of get things going.”
Then it’s off to Dove Valley for numbers 25, 75 and 53 for practice check-in and off to the races for their wives.
“We have to run to the cleaners, then the grocery store.”
Nonstop errands, chores and community commitments with kids in hand. And by 7 p.m., there’s a home-cooked hearty meal on the table for when their bruised, beloveds, Chris Harris Jr., Steven Johnson and Chris Clark walk through the door.
“They give in their bodies… so when they come home, they are sore, bruised, they need to stretch.”
“He watches the First Take (on ESPN), that’s the first thing he does — well, he gives me a hug and a kiss, and he sits down and I leave him alone,” Leah says.
“Usually there’s, depending on the week days, they get stretched. So they’ll have someone come stretch them for at least one to two hours, and sometimes there’ll be a massage that comes before that too,” says Stephanie Johnson, Steven Johnson’s wife.
Between that, practice and reviewing tape, Leah, Stephanie and Stacy’s husbands devote a good 12 hours a day to their sport. It leaves these ladies acting as single moms by day and football sounding boards by night.
“It’s so funny… we joke, ‘did you see that?’ And we’re like, ‘The third quarter, the tackle, oh mmm hmmm.’ And I’m like, ‘Did you all see that? I didn’t see that, I was talking and I missed that play!'” They all three relate.
Don’t be fooled. When it’s game time for the boys it’s also game time for their wives.
“I`m constantly praying. I`m like ‘oh god okay this play is up next, okay what`s going to happen, okay great that went over well, thank you Jesus,’ on to the next play,” says Stacy Clark, Chris Clark’s wife.
“I`m like, ‘Everything is going to go good but,’ I`m like, ‘Get him.’ I’m more like aggressive in there,” Leah says.
Aggressive because they too understand what’s at stake. Often, they feel they live in the fish bowl that is NFL stardom. There are the supportive fans and then those who ridicule.
“We’re their support system. We lean on them, they lean on us, the season is tough and brutal. You are always getting criticized,” Stacy says.
Leah Harris says the harshest words came toward “Team Harris,” as they call themselves, after Chris Harris was out with a torn ACL. “I mean Chris, they call him Pit Bull. He’s confident and he’s always really out there, and that was the first time that you could just tell his spirit was broken. I think my adrenaline kicked in. I was like, ‘No baby, we’re praying, we’re doing this.'”
These women manage to stay positive by relying heavily on each other. None of them have any family close by. “I think that we are each other`s biggest support system when it comes down to anything we`re going through. We have a group that we share and empathy between one another is what we thrive on the most.”
When it’s time for their men to drop the protective gear and come home, they — little as they may be — lift them up.
“It may have not been a good day… it may have been a great day, but you know you’ve got tomorrow to wake up, to start brand new.”