Family: Q&A with Andrea Novoselsky

Andrea Novoselsky is a stay at home wife and mother of two. Her husband Brent played tight end and was a special teams stand out for the Minnesota Vikings from 1989-94. Andrea and her husband reside in a Chicago suburb. Brent is a financial and estate planner and advisor. (GO): Can you tell me what you enjoyed most about Brent's football career? You know, about being in that culture?

Andrea Novoselsky: It was fun. The games were fun. The people we met on the team were fun. We all became a family. When you don't have family in the city where you're playing, you all stick together for holidays, to watch games, to go shopping, to talk about the kids, or whatever.

GO: What was the most difficult thing about football for you?

Andrea: The most difficult thing about being the wife of a professional football player was people knowing what my husband made for a living. Every year it was published in The Chicago Tribune. It listed every team, with each player's name and their salaries, whether it was right or wrong. It was embarrassing. It was public knowledge, even though it wasn't anybody else's business. Professional athletes, just like entertainers, are in the public eye. Everyone knows how much you make. That bothered me.

GO: I can understand why. What about transition? What's been most challenging for you personally about leaving the game?

Andrea: The thing I miss most is the easiness of life. We didn't have to worry about money, because the money was coming in. We were able to build a nice nest egg for our future and not worry about how much we spent. We were still very conservative in our spending. We enjoyed buying things and saving some for our future.

The hardest thing was not having as much money rolling in when we left the game, and not being able to save for our future.

GO: Transition can be difficult. You're no longer in the group, you aren't treated like a player's wife, you aren't invited to player's wife functions as much or at all—maybe by some of your country club friends outside of football--but you no longer get those invitations or that platform to speak.

Andrea: I didn't feel that, because Brent played in Minnesota, and we came back home to Chicago, which is where we were born and raised, and we were high school sweethearts. So coming back home was easier than staying, because everyone knew that he played and they were proud of him and they'd say, "I watched you when you played. I remember when you had this catch or that."

I didn't feel like he wasn't special or I wasn't special any more. Coming home was a very good thing for us. I don't think we were treated any different as people.

GO: That's great. It seems you two where fortunate in that way. What was the most challenging thing you saw Brent face after retiring from football?

Andrea: The most challenging thing for him was deciding what he would do next. He got his feet wet during the off seasons doing financial planning and being a stock broker, and he knew he wanted to do what he majored in college. He knew he wanted to do something in the business field, where he could make the most of himself and not have a salary cap, while providing for his family and himself financially.

He knew he wanted to be in the financial field, but at the same time he was nervous. Did he want to do banking--investment banking--or was it going to be financial planning? Was it going to be insurance? Was it going to be brokering?

He was torn between what interested him. Brent met with many different people, to kind of sort out his thoughts, in terms of what he really wanted to do, and he honed in on financial planning with an insurance influence. And I think he's doing great at it.

GO: You're right, Brent has transitioned as well as anyone I've met. You deserve much of the credit. What about injuries? You were in the stands when Brent hurt his neck and went to the hospital with him.

Andrea: Yeah, it was really scary. He made the tackle, and he didn't get up. So, at first, I thought, "Oh, my God!"

I was just watching, because the trainers ran out to the field. I saw him moving his legs. I thought, "Okay. He can move his legs."

But then, he didn't get up for a few minutes. I was really nervous, and when he got up, he jogged off the field and was shaking his arms. I knew that he had a couple shoulder separations, so I thought, "It's his shoulder." I thought he just couldn't move at first, because it was his shoulder.

So, I see him get off to the sideline, and he's sitting there, and the doctors are talking to him, and the coaches are talking to him, and I'm watching through my friend's binoculars. It looked like he was okay, but then they walked him in, so I wasn't sure.

It was almost halftime, like two minutes from halftime. So, I decided if he didn't come out after halftime, I would definitely go down and ask the security guards to let me go back to talk to the doctor. Then, right at the half, when the next half started, the security guards came up to get me. They came up to the stands going, "Where is Andrea Novoselski?"

Until then, my friends were saying, "Don't worry. He's probably okay. They're probably just checking him out, and it's probably nothing." And I said, "Yeah, it's probably his shoulder."

So, we weren't worried, because he walked off the field by his own power, and I really thought it was just his shoulder. I never thought it was his neck.

But then they came up to get me. I went down to the locker room, and the doctor explained to me, "You know, Andrea, Brent's arms are tingling. I think it's a neck issue. I want you to go right over to the hospital. He's going to get an MRI done and we'll see what's going on." So, I was very scared.

I drove to the hospital. It was very scary. At least he was not paralyzed. He was walking and, thank God, he seemed to be okay, but yet, there was still that fear of what is going on?

I was really scared.

GO: I can't imagine. And now, are you glad you don't have to worry about his health now that football's over?

Andrea: Oh, yeah! Like I say, we've been dating practically our whole lives. I went through high school football with him and college football and then the pros. I was never afraid of his getting hurt. Never. You can't live that way. You just have to watch and enjoy it and not think about his getting hurt. I never thought he would get hurt. Even with a couple bumps or bruises and scratches and the shoulder separations, I never thought it would be anything life-threatening. But after that happened, I was so grateful that he wasn't paralyzed and that they did the surgery and he's walking and able to play with the kids and that it wasn't worse.
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