Come chat NFL with me @Cmcknelly
NF: Where did you learn about football – When? and from Who?
KM: My earliest memories in my life are of watching sports, ANY and all sports but especially basketball and football with my grandfather—way back then, it almost felt like a “punishment”. I was little and wanted to watch kid TV but there was only one TV and he was the boss.
Now, I wouldn’t change that for the world. Those moments with him are priceless. I still remember as a small child saying “why do they do that” or “how come” and he was so patient in his explanation. He never ever missed a sporting competition that I was involved in.
He was so quiet and gentle. I can’t ever remember him disputing a call (in pro sports, or when I played). He had a tendency to always root for the underdog. I don’t recall him really having a “fav” team. He just LOVED sports. Now looking back I wish I could ask him where his love of sports stemmed from.
Quick story—my grandmother was “forced” to watch the same sports as me. She didn’t end up loving them BUT the Super Bowl in 2002 (I think) was the 1st SB we didn’t watch as a family together. I had just moved to St Louis, and Tampa was playing. My granny and I kept calling back and forth on the phone.
This was the 1st game that I think she ever paid attention to (probably because I wasn’t physically there) but at one point she said “sis, that #99 is the biggest human I have ever seen–why in the world would anyone play this game and let him fall on them”. Well #99 was Warren Sapp and it was so cute to hear her calling numbers and asking questions (she would never ask my grandpa those questions–this was her 1st football lesson).
I bought her a Warren Sapp jersey. I had the luxury of knowing some players (go figure) and had it autographed for her. When she passed, my grandpa made sure I got that jersey back. I can’t say that I am particularly happy with the path that Sapp has taken and his treatment of women but I have that jersey and the memories of that Super Bowl.
NF: Priorities of Life – What are your top 3?
KM: 1. Ensure that my kids are happy, healthy and safe; and finding a way to live THEIR dreams. 2. Make an impact on the world through philanthropic work, especially in areas of family violence (sexual, emotional and physical) maybe I could/should lead the NFL on these acts of violence, drug addiction and homelessness (usually all those come back around to family violence at a young age). 3. Write a book (currently in the early stage of this).
NF: If you had any job in the world – what would it be, and why?
KM: This one is hard…I am struggling with it in my life right now. I would want to be a leader of people, someone impactful and empowering. It might be back in nursing leadership, or something more public, or as part of my growing church. I have been successful in this role in the past. I feel comfortable building individual 1:1 relationships, being effective in doing so that the group, as a whole, is successful.
In the “young” side of my head I want to be an Athletic Trainer for the Rams (still hard to call them the LA Rams) or an ATC Spotter in the booth making sure these guys get pulled from the game when they need to be.
Or take Rodger Goodell’s job! Then I’m hiring the NFLFemale squad to my many task forces. 😁
I often ask my friends in the NFL about life after the league. I would LOVE to be associated with the NFL in creating a program that starts with the Rookies and follows them through their time playing—helping them stay on top of their lives in a sense of what happens when the time comes to stop playing, what will you do? Do you have a degree? Will you have a normal job? What money have you set aside? Are you living beyond your means? How to downsize?—all of the things that “RICH” young football players don’t think about and the NFL doesn’t either (they are commodities and tossed aside when no longer producing).
NF: How has your association with NFLFemale been a positive influence in your world?
KM: It is BEYOND words, been the most rewarding time. I stepped out of my comfort zone when approached by Liz to contribute. I NEVER thought I could do anything like this. I was able to take my passion for a game that means so much to me, share it with a large audience (and they care) as well as create some friendships and bonds that I would have never had.
The idea of being around other smart women is empowering. I have since lost my team from my city and am trying to find my niche and how to still be as effective and connected as I was when they were here. The support I have received has been incredible. I can’t wait to see where this journey lands each and every one of us.
NF: If you want to know the real side of sports legends, listen to their kids and grandkids. What do you hope others say about you?
KM: I hope they see a person who made conscious decisions to OVERCOME. I would hope they talk about an imperfect person who became someone they could look up to. Someone that had a laser focus and exceptional work ethic but was able to also be the life of the party.
I hope that by the time those conversations happen that I have created change, impacted many to be the very best they can be. I want to be remembered as the person who was scared to take the first step alone but with a little prodding was unstoppable. Someone who despite all the odds, remained positive. That she was able to stand on her faith and belief in God to carry her through the dark, especially when the end appeared very bleak.
I want everyone who knows/knew me to say, that from the first moment we met, they felt love and friendship. That I had a ‘big heart’ (after they broke through the REALLY rough exterior).
Be sure to follow and say hello to me: @Cmcknelly