Monday, December 10, 2012


With the end of the year around the corner, so is the end of the NFL Season – for most teams. My apologies to fans of the Eagles, the Raiders, the Panthers and the rest of the teams who are scraping the bottom of the barrel for wins. I am in agony with the rest of you, as my Arizona Cardinals take beating after beating.
And it leaves me with the terrible question; as we move into the playoffs, how will I endure those Sundays? How will I pass the time?
I’ve put some thought into this questions and here are my recommendations to help you power through the playoffs.
1. Take up knitting
My mother and other friends who have taken up this quaint hobby insist that it is absolutely therapeutic. “I do it to relax and get away from the real world,” says Katara on
One of my favorite testimonials, “It lets me watch television without feeling guilty about being idle.” Who knows, may even ease the pain of watching a game while knowing your team is D.O.A.
Talk about easing pain, HelloGiggles’ contributor, Shannon Robb, even wrote about knitting as a way to lessen the stress of moving back in with your parents. Surely it can work some magic for hurting football fans.
2. Bake cupcakes
Cupcakes are the “it” item of the baked goods scene these days. People who show up at parties with cupcakes are immediately adored.
Don’t be intimidated by that oven. Forget Betty Crocker. Let the Internet be your teacher and learn to make your own cupcakes from scratch.
The good news is, with cupcakes being the hottest thing in the kitchen (ok, that was bad, sorry), there are places popping up everywhere selling these delightful treats. Maybe one Sunday you could plan a tour to the cake hotspots.
3. Make Sunday Spa-Day
Don’t waste the money and the time on one Sunday. Spread out the pampering over a few Sundays – and maybe a Monday night.
Just think about it. You can get a mani/pedi one week – your nails could even match your cupcakes! The next week, it’s time for a haircut, don’t you think? Get the best look for your face shape here. Maybe you’ll even get inspired to try on anew color for the New Year.
“But Heather,” you say, “My team was supposed to be GREAT this year. We were in year two with Cam Newton, Superman. It hurts so bad!”
I feel your pain, my friend. In that case, you might want to take the spa-day to another level. Plan a Spa Stay-cation with other friends who either don’t care or can’t bear to watch those divisional play-offs. You can thank HelloGiggler, Michelle Konstantinovsky, for tips on how to do this without breaking the bank.
4. Clean out your closet
Admit it – you have a “standard rotation” of clothes, your most popular outfits, but if you really went through that closet (and those drawers) you’d find bunches of clothing items you haven’t touched in months. Ok, years.
Something about cleaning closets gives you a feelings of new hope, new beginnings, just what you need right now. Don’t know where to start? Start here!
Once you’ve purged, you can take those clothes to a consignment store, donate them to Goodwill, or arrange a friend swap – another chance to fill a Sunday.
5. Just get on the bandwagon 
That’s right; trade your team in for a hotter option. If you’re like me, turning off the football is just not an option. So, don’t feel guilty. It will only be a holiday fling.
Who should you cheer for? Well, it’s a personal preference, but let me give you some factors to consider.
  • New England Patriots: After all, as a girl anyway, it’s pretty easy to cheer for Tom Brady – he’s Tom Brady. The franchise has been counted on for some great games for a long time. Not enough? Then let’s say, to be “Patriotic.”
  • Houston Texans: The Texans have always been the “other” Texas team. If you are sick of the Dallas Cowboys (and their fans) walking and talking like football royalty with no regard for their actual record, think of how fun it would be to see the Texans take it all the way.
  • Atlanta Falcons: As of right now, Atlanta has lost only one game this season and yet no one takes them seriously. The “experts” point to the fact that they haven’t won a playoff game in the last eight years. No one’s buying what they’re selling. If you cheer for them, you are kind of cheering for the playoff  “underdog”.
  • San Francisco 49ers: Coached by Jim “Crazy-Eyes” Harbaugh, this historic franchise is back to it’s winning ways. But even better, Coach can be seen here as Screech’s cousin in ‘Saved by The Bell.’ Now, that’s worth a cheer.
As for me, I’m going to bandwagon it like nobody’s business. If you’ve read my other Giggles, you know why I love the Denver Broncos. But it’s really Peyton Manning’s incredible comeback that leaves me cheering. After a very serious neck surgery that many thought would sideline him forever, on Thursday night he extended his franchise record with his 30th touchdown pass on the game’s opening drive, became the fastest quarterback to reach 5,000 career completions and earned his record 12th 10-win season as a starter.
However you decide to cope with your disappointment, have faith that we will get through this difficult time of year together. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help. Well, I may not be able to think of anything aside from what I’ve said already, but I’ll try.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My First "Crush": How I Fell for Football

With the NFL season in full swing at last, so is my obsession. Life is arranged around games that I don’t want to miss. Of course, in this busy, busy life I can’t sit down and actually watch the games I care about as they kick-off. Especially now that there are games not just on Sunday and Monday, but on Thursday night, too. Thank goodness for DirecTV and DVR.  

I end up recording three to four games a week, the ones most important to me: one of my favorite teams is playing, or it’s one of the week’s most competitive matchups. And once those games have kicked off on Thursday, Sunday and Monday, I’m ignoring Facebook, Twitter and most news outlets to avoid “spoilers”. I’m also texting clear instruction to friends and relatives that they better not text me any news, or cheers, or jeers that could tip off the outcome of these games.

I did keep myself out of the fantasy leagues this year – somehow. I was trying to avoid feeding my pre-occupation with football during the week to try and get more done this fall in real life. Frankly, I regret it. I miss that personal stake in those games. I won’t make that mistake next year.  

This week, as I was making my pre-game plans and preparations, I thought, “How did this all start? This passion for a ‘boys’ game?” No one in my family played football. I only ever dated a boy that played football once – my freshman year of high school.

With that question, I was rewarded with a warm memory.

There I am, 6 years old, at home in Colorado. I am sitting at the dining room table with my mom and dad and the Rocky Mountain News. It’s the Sunday paper, open to the sports section with the upcoming NFL Sunday games schedule. Around the edge of the page is a border, pictures of the helmets of each team in the league. My mom and dad are encouraging me to match up which helmet belongs to what team.

That was so much fun, and I was a really good guesser, too. At least, that’s what my mom tells me.

Then another memory: John Elway was drafted by the Baltimore Colts (yep, they used to be in Baltimore, but that’s a whole other story….) and traded to the Denver Broncos. I was only 9 but I remember the heated discourse between my mom, my dad, my grandpa and my uncles – I think one of my aunts even piped up - about this Elway guy. Was he the real deal? Was this the man to return Denver to “Orange Crush” glory?

John Elway actually made a permanent mark in our family’s history when he autographed a pizza box for my uncle at a place just a couple miles away from our house. It’s a story that gets told again and again – sometimes embellished – during family gatherings.

Then there was my 11th birthday, Dec. 30th, 1984. In his second year, Elway had led the Broncos to the AFC Divisional Playoffs. The whole family was there and cake and presents were set to follow the game. I even had on my favorite Orange Crush t-shirt, like a true fan. It was about to be one of the best days of my young life.

Only one problem - they lost, 24-17 to the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was inconsolable. There’s picture of me at our kitchen table, cake front and center, presents, even a new Barbie, but my expression is one of utter despair. I wish there was a digital copy I could post, but it’s firmly planted in a family scrapbook.

Roaming down this memory lane, it became clear that I had for sure inherited my passion for the pigskin. I guess it’s no coincidence that I went on to be a cheerleader, or that the man I married ended up working for the Arizona Cardinals. Almost seems like destiny, don’t you think? Actually, I’m kind of surprised I didn’t end up being a mascot…

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Giddy Gives Way to Guilty as the NFL Season Kicks Off

I’ve never related to my addiction to NFL Football as a problem - time consuming, for sure, costly in the pizza and wings department, absolutely. But as the season kicked off this week, I started to hear some things, read some things and consider some things I had tried really hard to ignore.

I’m sorry to say, I now have to look at my passionate fandom as a guilty pleasure.

For years now, this last year especially, so much has surfaced about the life changing nature of the injuries these gridiron warriors endure - especially the brutal consequences of concussions. With the news of  “Bountygate,” players intent on taking each other “out” for a game, or even a season, it takes an even nastier turn.

Then I was reading in ESPNMagazine, in a great article by J.R. Moehringer, about suspicions that the neurological damage caused by concussions, known as “subconcussive injuries”, could be at the source of recent player suicides.

Moehringer notes, when Titan’s wide receiver, O.J. Murdock, killed himself this July, he became the SIXTH former or current player to commit suicide in the past 2 years. Each of these players reportedly suffered symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) – headaches, slurred speech, psychosis, depression, dementia, and memory loss.

One player, Dave Duerson, left a suicide note for this wife that said, “Please see that my brain if given to the NFL’s brain bank.” He shot himself in the heart.

Another 500 players have signed waivers willing their brains to the center. One of them being Matt Birk, a 15 year center for the Ravens. He says this is his way of giving back to the game and helping future players. But he says, “It’s too late for me.”

Even if injuries are not life ending, they certainly could kill quality of life for these guys, especially as they age. There are countless players – current and retired – with metal plates holding their extremities together with joints that have been rebuilt in surgery. You’ll hear them in interviews joke casually about the pain of getting out of bed in the morning and the ringing in their ears.

So, it’s not exactly breaking news to say that this is a brutally violent sport with physical consequences. Anyone who has ever seen even one game can imagine the damage being done.

I know that for me, when I would witness the vicious hits, the nauseating injuries, I would just say to myself, “Well, it’s their choice”.

In the same issue of ESPN Magazine, 48 players were surveyed about injuries and concussions. Are you ready for this? Of the guys polled, 54% say that if they suffer brain damage as a result of playing in the NFL, it’s still worth it.

Another question asked: If you could win Super Bowl MVP, but it takes 5 years off your life, would that be worth it? Almost half, 48%, respond yes. One NFL veteran lineman says, “Hell yeah! And at the rate I’m going, I’m probably going to be in a wheelchair for the last 10 years of my life anyway.”

So, there you go. They don’t have to play football. There are other professions, other sports, and other ways to compete. If it’s their choice, why should I feel guilty?

Well, I do.

Even if their passion for the game outweighs their concern for long-term physical disability, that just makes me an enabler. Even a player who says that football was their “only way out” of a life headed nowhere that makes me the person who agrees with them. “There was no other way,” I’m agreeing.  The truth of the matter is that my beloved NFL Sunday Ticket package, each carefully selected fantasy player and every jersey I buy keeps the games in motion and in demand.
This leaves me with a question: to watch or not to watch?

Here’s what I’ve decided: I will honor the passion and commitment these men have for what they do. After all, I can’t think of a profession I would be willing to risk my life and limb for in this way. There’s something primal and strangely honorable about it. In fact, this depth of passion is something I truly admire and part of what draws me to this game.

So, I will be cheering for you, guys…and quietly praying for you, too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

5 Ways the NFL Draft Is Like the Miss America Pageant

You should know, I have a passion for NFL football unmatched by most fellas I know. I have been counting down the days to the kick-off of the NFL draft this week.

I was reading up on the expected top picks, and the stories of these players’ journeys to the draft – years of Pop Warner football, touch football in the neighborhood, and college fame. I asked myself the question: “Is there a female equivalent of the NFL draft?”

I scratched my head as I thought about it. Where, in what venue, are woman assessed for talent and training that they’ve been crafting for years and years of their life, with a single objective, and massive public exposure?

Then, it hit me: The Miss America Pageant.

Stay with me here.

The women in these pageants are the product of years of intense focus on their beauty, grace, poise and “assets”. They have been coiffed and pampered from top to bottom (literally), a millions times over. Some got started as soon as they could pull up their own Pampers.

C’mon, don’t try to pretend that you haven’t guiltily soaked in an episode of “Toddlers & Tiaras”.

Let me get specific about some similarities:

1. The swimsuit competition

So, let’s call it like it is: “let-us-see-what-you-look-like-almost-naked” competition.

Every year at the NFL combine, about 350 or so would-be-NFL-draftees compete to be ONE of the roughly 250 men selected in the draft each year. Sure, they are there to have their football skills assessed, but let’s face it – they are being sized up much like Miss Georgia in a one-piece. 

Some may regret this objectification.

Others, should look into opportunities to model underwear if the aren’t selected in the draft.

2. Talent competition

So, there is no baton twirling at the NFL combine, but these guys do have skills and they are assessed from every angle. Like, “can you take a snap from center?” No idea what that means? Take a look

As for the ladies, last years talent competition offered everything from classical ballet en pointe, playing to flute, Celtic fiddle and even a jump rope routine. Singing seems to be the “go-to” for the gals – not always for the best.

3. An intelligence test

To be part of the NFL draft, players must take The Wonderlic Cognitive Ability Test (formerly known as the Wonderlic Personnel Test. Per wonderful Wikipedia, this is a popular group intelligence test used to assess the aptitude of prospective employees for learning and problem-solving. It consists of 50 multiple choice questions to be answered in 12 minutes. Sample questions:
  • When a rope is selling 20 cents per 2 feet, how many feet can you buy for 30 dollars?
  • Which of numbers in this group represents the smallest amount? a) 0.3 b) 0.08 c) 1 d) 0.33
Well, how about Miss America? How are her wits tested? We’ve all seen these beauty pageant interviews, mostly underwhelming, and sometimes embarrassing.

However, in a column called “What I Learned About Interviewing from Miss America” by The Daily Muse in Forbes Magazine, she brought up some interesting points.

“Imagine walking into a room with six pairs of eyes immediately fixed on you. Each of those six people are chomping at the bit to ask you the most difficult questions they can come up with—politics, controversial issues, your personal life, you name it. They’re testing you, challenging you, and trying to prove that you aren’t good enough. And they’re judging you. Literally. After grilling you for a painstaking 20 minutes, each person will put a score next your name.”

4. A “combined score” for performance based on different parts of the competition

For Miss America, this is what the measuring stick looks like to see if she is fit to wear the crown.

Preliminary Competitions and their score values:
  • Lifestyle and Fitness in Swimsuit - 15%
  • Evening Wear - 20%
  • Talent - 35%
  • Private Interview - 25%
  •  On-Stage Question – 5%

For players looking to be valued at the top of the NFL draft, here are a few ways they are sized up:
  • Measurements of height, weight, arm length, and hand length 
  • The timed 40 yard dash Height of vertical jump 
  • The length of broad jump (how far you can jump, not how many broads you can jump over)
  • Timed three-cone drill - an agility test, players run around three cones placed in the shape of an "L" (not how fast you can eat three cones without brain freeze)

5. Evening wear
Ok, I admit, this is a bit of a stretch. But, some of these guys are dressed to the nines, flaunting their individual and looking GREAT for their big day. Thanks for that, guys! Check it out…there’s even a slideshow!

I wouldn’t think it would be necessary to point out the differences between the NFL draft and the Miss America Pageant, but here are a couple things I found interesting.

Per NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, the average NFL player is in the league and getting paid to play for 6 years vs. Miss America, who gets to wear the crown for only one year 

The scholarships awarded to Miss America totaled $52,000 in 2012 vs. top draft pick, Cam Newton, who was guaranteed $22 million for his 4 years deal with the Carolina Panthers. 

So, brawn beats out beauty in the free market. Anybody feel like taking a stab at where “brains” might rank?

First contributed to, and published by HelloGiggles!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Tom Brady: You owe me one. Seriously.

It's late in the day, Feb. 3rd, 2008. 

There I sit, in University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ, watching my husband's heart break and his stomach go queasy.

See, my husband is a native of Boston. He is a Patriots fan....big time. And in 2008 he worked for the Arizona Cardinals. This meant the perfect storm of opportunity: 
  • Since he worked for an NFL team, we could get tickets for face value = expensive but NOTHING close to free-market
  • The game would be at the Cardinal's 'nest' = 40 minutes from our home, no travel, no room and board, no time off from work
  • His (now second) favorite team would be there, playing for the perfect season = once in a lifetime experience.
Given ALL of this, I just had to 'break the bank' and get those tickets - the ones WAY up above, with a birds-eye view of the grid-iron.With just barely a minute left in the game, and Mike looking more anxious by the second, it occurred to me that these seats were WAY too high-up. I wondered if I could keep him from jumping over the rail if I had to....

And then, it happened.
On third-and-5 from the Giants' 44-yard line, Manning took the snap in the shotgun formation and immediately faced pressure... he was able to stay on his feet and duck under the arms of the Patriot defenders, before scrambling backwards into space at around the 34 yard line, and throwing the ball down field to David Tyree at the 24 yard line of the Patriots. Fox announcer Troy Aikman said after the play "I don't know how he got out of there."
Due to the Patriots' pressure, Tyree was unable to run his intended route and instead came back towards the line to give Manning an option down the field.... As the ball arrived Tyree fell on the ground, along with Patriots defender Rodney Harrison who was attempting to knock it down. Tyree was able to secure possession of the ball by pressing it against the top of his helmet with his right hand.
The play gained 32 yards for the Giants and gave them a first down with 58 seconds left. Four plays later, Plaxico Burress scored the touchdown that won the game for the Giants 17–14.From Wikipedia
Well, Mike didn't jump. He just sat there in silence, stunned and sickly pale, staring at the field.
I, for once, was speechless. In my mind, it sounded like a cash register, calculating the cost of his shattered dream.

So, listen up, Tom. You guys owe me. There's no way I'm going to bet on your defense to pull this off. I don't think you should either. So, whatever had you "suck" (your words, not mine) last week in the AFC Championship Game, shake it off.

Thanks, Heather

Mike, pre-devastation, picture not available post-devastation