If I could describe in one word how the transition after football has been for my husband and I, I would described it as: ROUGH! Edgar’s last year playing was with the Cowboys in 2013. While playing for them, he got injured early in the season and was put on IR for 8 weeks, returning with just two games left in the season. He finished those two games out strong, but his contract was up, and they didn’t resign him. He got a few calls from the Saints and Browns but nothing stuck. He declared retirement in February 2014.
This is when life really hit us, our relationship was tested and our journey began. He thought he was “ happy” being done. He mentioned things like “now I can spend time with my family” “ I don’t have to be moving from city to city” and the best one of them all “my body isn’t getting beat up”. As the days and months went on, he would struggle with mood swings (waking up mad, and frustrated), questioning his purpose in life, struggling with his identity, and depression. Luckily, finances wasn’t an issue yet.
The up’s and downs were hard to cope with and it would have been really easy for me to leave and have the mindset of “I didn’t sign up for this” (did I mention I was his GIRLFRIEND at the time). The mood swings became worse over time, broken objects, holes in the wall, and the worse and scariest; suicidal ideations. My husband was fighting himself from within. The search for his purpose was his biggest battle. All he THOUGHT he knew was FOOTBALL. Searching for his purpose became worse as the days went on to where he started using pain killer prescriptions as a way to numb his feelings. It stayed like this for quite sometime, and I had no idea until he came to me asking for help.
He enrolled in a 3 month intensive impatient rehab for NFL players in Escondido, California. Here is when he discovered that he was not alone. He connected with other players (some he’s played with, some he didn’t), shared frustrations and also gained knowledge on things the NFL offers, that most don’t even know about. He saw doctors and psychologists and was able to learn coping skills for the mood swings, anger, and so much more. He returned home after 3 months and continued to see different counselors. He jumped from counselor to counselor because he never felt comfortable. He felt “crazy” …like “no one understands me”…“everything I say is wrong”…“I’m wrong for feeling this way”…“I’m crazy for getting so mad and wanting to hit someone”, etc. His frustration was setting in again; mainly not feeling understood. After visiting tons of different counselors, he finally found one who provided everything he was looking for; “just listen to my story and frustrations”— Listening ears with no judgement or questions or talk thats based on stereotypes, was what he was looking for.
The experiences and struggles after football were hard but for me were expected. I say this because, my occupation as an LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) has given me knowledge on the types of behaviors and struggles Edgar was dealing with. However, I am only human and I had my limits and frustrations during this period as well; so I prayed,
During the transition is when I became my husband’s prayer warrior. I turned to God for healing, for answers, for purpose, for patience and understanding. The transition was one of many seasons that we’d be going through as a couple. We started diving into the Word more as a couple and started attending different ministries in the church. We changed our group of friends and surrounded ourselves with other God fearing individuals. We also took a break from anything football related because it was still a sensitive topic. After we became closer to God, things started turning around for us. Edgar became more at peace with being retired. He was motivated to try different careers and was engaging regularly in coping skills to stay level headed. He started coaching FFL (a little league football team) football in our community and started personal training. He felt that “helping others & changing their lives” was his calling and he was right. Edgar found himself in a place where he felt like he had a purpose. After finding this purpose, our relationship started to change for the better as well.
Edgar didn’t grow up with a blueprint of what a healthy relationship was supposed to look like, so marriage was never a thought for him. Of course, in the flesh, my mind had a cut off date for being a “girlfriend”. However, I prayed God would change his heart from the negative views he had on marriage. My prayers answered again. Our relationship quickly changed again as he became closer to God. God placed marriage on his heart and we got engaged and married all within 3 months.
God has been our strength through this transition and continues to be our strength today. I prayed for my husband endlessly. I just wanted him to feel peace, and not the kind of peace you get through anything else but from GOD. God has and continues to provide this peace for my husband and for our marriage.
My role in our marriage continued to grow and change after Edgar retired. While in the NFL, I was his support, his cheerleader and fan, and mainly his friend/girlfriend. But when he retired, I became his confident, his emotional support, his voice, his backbone when he felt worthless and my personal favorite, HIS PRAYER WARRIOR. PRAYER became my best friend, my go to habit for everything; through the good and through the not so good.
Today, Edgar has finally come to peace with retiring. He uses his platform to motivate others in personal training, working with kids in the community, and mentoring young boys. He has surrendered all his struggles to God and since then has been saved. He is now praying and working on his strength to be vulnerable so he may be able to share his downfalls and struggles in order to save and/or help others that may relate.
My advice to the wives who are preparing for the transition of retirement and for those who may be living through it now, PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY! I cannot begin to tell you how faithful our God is. It is not easy by any means, it takes a toll on your integrity and your worth as a women, but our purpose is bigger than we think. We were put in our husbands lives on PURPOSE because everything our God does is intentional. HE knows what HE’S doing and makes NO MISTAKES. Just Trust HIM. Your testimony will be well worth it! My name is Adalis Figueroa and I am a Victor's Voice!
*Keep in mind that the women sharing their stories give us permission, as well as their husbands, to share on line.