The Unwritten Rules Of Being A Football WAG

Life as a football WAG has its perks. Not only do they have the devotion of some of the National Football's star athletes, but the fame and glamor are nothing to sneeze at. Former Seahawks player Craig Terrill's wife Rachel spoke to Sports Illustrated about being an NFL WAG and shared that the surprising thing about many of the other wives and girlfriends was that most of them had graduated college. She said, "Like me, they had dreams they'd been working hard to achieve which they paused once their boyfriend or husband was drafted."

But living in the spotlight also takes its toll, with some ladies speaking out about unique stressors in their lives. Olivia Culpo, San Francisco 49ers player Christian McCaffrey's fiancee, told Today, "I have a really hard time sleeping. I can't sleep before games." Niners' captain Arik Armstead's wife, Mindy, said that life was not always easy and revealed that the WAGs share a special bond. She also told Today, "No one else can understand that pressure to be kind of this emotional powerhouse and support system for your significant other... I think we really band together, and you end up making super-fast friends because of that. We're all part of this team. We're anxious and worried, and we're thinking about, 'Are things taken care of at home so that they can focus on the game?'" Unsurprisingly, there are a few unwritten football WAG rules that may come in handy to avoid being benched.

Many WAGs conform to a football identity

Rachel Binns-Terrill was committed to graduating college with her Ph.D., especially after finding out that many of the other NFL WAGS had advanced degrees but chose to put their dreams on hold to support the football players in their lives. She also felt pressure to conform to the expectations others had of her as an NFL wife. In an op-ed for Sports Illustrated, she wrote, "Soon after Craig and I were married... his teammate heard that I didn't change my last name from Binns to Terrill, he slapped Craig's testicles and said 'Are you going to be Team Terrill today or Team Binns-Terrill?' His wife leaned over and whispered in my ear, 'Remember, I told you that you really need to change your name to help him feel like a man...' To fit in as a 'good wife,' I would need to sacrifice my personal identity for the betterment of my husband." 

It sounds as if Kelly Hall Stafford was also aware that so much of her public identity may have also  been wrapped up in her husband. She addressed the issue of her identity in her podcast "The Morning After," saying (via ABC News), "It's [the podcast] something that's my own, and I feel like sometimes especially being the wife or a significant other of a professional athlete or anyone who has this kind of limelight you tend to lose yourself." Stafford was intentional about doing things for herself. Slay, girl!

WAGs and their ballers sleep in separate hotel rooms

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk's girlfriend Rochelle Searight posted a TikTok video about what it's like to travel with an NFL team. She was surprised to learn that the rules aren't only applied on the field, but they're also valid in the bedroom. Searight explained, "When you travel to an away game with your boo and you stay in the same hotel, y'all can't sleep in the same room — and they got security to make sure that those rules aren't broken." She also shared that if they managed to sneak someone into their room, there were some hefty consequences for the offending party. "The players also can't come back past their curfew and if these rules are broken, they could get fined. And I ain't talking no like speeding ticket fine — I'm talking close to $10,000, or lose your job for having a woman in the room," she said. 

Fred Warner's wife, Sydney Hightower Warner, also revealed the same info on TikTok in 2023. She also shared that players could also stay in hotels when they were playing on home turf. Surprisingly, this rule has been around for quite some time. In 1986, the Los Angeles Times reported that several teams including the Rams, Jets, Seahawks, Bengals, and the then-Redskins (now known as the Commanders) imposed fines on players who had women in their rooms. Talk about bedding your career!

Surprise! Football tickets are not free

Surely, one of the perks of being an NFL WAG has to be watching your significant other on the field, right? Especially perchance to view (and partake in!) one of those knee-buckling kisses athletes love delivering on the field. And just like every other person in the stadium, there is a price to pay for watching a live football game. San Francisco 49ers Fred Warner's wife, Syndey Warner, revealed in a TikTok video that even wives and girlfriends had to purchase game tickets. No freebies here. She said, "All your tickets to games, home and away, aren't free. They are at a discounted rate, but they're not free."

Of course, trying to convince friends and family of the fact may be another story. Former pro basketball player and Miko Grimes, wife of former Miami Dolphins cornerback Brent Grimes, once joked that wives are expected to carry the burden of sorting out tickets for loved ones.  She tweeted (via Baller Alert), "You are the ticket broker in the house. He's trying to prepare for the Patriots game but his entire family is calling for tickets. SMH! Handle it." Apparently, being the go-to person for all things ticket-related is just one small part of being a football WAG.

WAGs are the biggest cheerleaders

Cheerleaders ain't got nothing on Miko Grimes. She believed in Brent Grimes even when he was a cornerback who spent more time on the bench than on the field. In fact, Miko gave Brent the advice that turned his whole career around when she texted him to ignore the coach and go after the ball. By the end of that season, Brent defied the odds with six interceptions in only eight of the 16 games he started. She wrote (via Baller Alert), "If he is on the field, risking life and limb for your next pair of red bottoms and LV bag, your fake busy ass needs to FRONT ROW LOUD AND PROUD cheering him on!"

Initially, Rachel Terrill believed she needed to keep her husband humble but soon realized that her husband wanted her in his corner. She penned, per NFL Player Engagement, "Our NFL players picked us to be their significant others because they care what we think of them... Be his biggest cheerleader... It doesn't matter if 60,000 fans are cheering his name, he wants you to cheer for him. It doesn't matter if the NFL Network sings his praises, he wants you to tell him he's great... Let him know that you love him for all that he is, and that your love is deeper than his football career. Someday, his career will end and the fans will forget his name." If your significant other is not rooting for you, then what's the point?

WAGs protect the team's privacy

Jersey chasers beware. NFL players and their families sometimes need to unwind, relax, and socialize with each other. But that doesn't mean anyone else is invited. In fact, former NFL WAG Rachel Terrill divulged that there are some very specific unwritten rules that are strictly adhered to when it comes to social gatherings. In the second installment of her Sports Illustrated op-ed entitled "The rules of being an NFL wife" she pens, "Do not bring anyone with you to team functions besides your children. This includes your sisters, your brothers, and your best friends. Out of protection for everyone's privacy, only immediate NFL families are welcome into the closed world of other NFL families. Team gatherings are a safe place away from reporters, fans, and groupies." Unsurprisingly, the teams vigilantly guard their closed ranks from outsiders. 

Interestingly, the National Hockey League also follows a similar rule pertaining to the (in)famous Wives' Room. New girlfriends can only enter once they've attended an event hosted by an NHL wife, and then, if approved, will she be allowed access to the room. Former NHL star Sean Avery dishes, per Vice, "After a few months, a new girlfriend gets eased in. But she's not walking up to the table where the captain, and the goalie's wife, and the all-star defencemen's wife are sitting... You have to work your way up." There are rules and codes for everything, and the NHL and NFL WAGS have just shifted the goalposts.