Love & The NFL

words: Marla Cantrell

images:courtesy Kristina Lorraine Photography, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Monica will never forget her first date with her now husband, Brett Goode. He’d been wooing her for a while — unsuccessfully — and he’d finally convinced her to stop by his house. In the weeks that preceded that night, she’d said no when he asked her out. He tried again, asking her to go out with a group of friends. When that didn’t work, he said, “Hey, why don’t you just stop by my house?” considering the invitation his last ditch effort.

 

What stopped Monica initially was a combination of two things. Newly single, she wasn’t sure she was ready to date, and Brett had a reputation, not that it was a bad one. In fact, the Fort Smith, Arkansas native is a darling in his hometown, having made it all the way to the NFL. Former Northside Grizzly, former Razorback, he’s just finished his seventh year as the Green Bay Packers’ long-snapper. He played in Super Bowl XLV in 2010. And yes, the Packers won.

 

The thing that kept Brett trying was this: he was smitten. He also liked the challenge. Even the fact that she didn’t know a lot about football intrigued him. “You never know if somebody is hanging out with you because of you, or because of what you do,” Brett says. With Monica, he didn’t have to wonder.

 

So when he answered his door that night in March of 2014 and saw Monica standing there, he seemed to smile with every cell in his body.

 

And that was all it took. “From the moment he opened the door, I just knew,” Monica says. “He had such a calm, down-home smile. He was holding a glass of wine. I swear, I knew we were supposed to be together. I stayed until three in the morning, talking.”

 

After that night, they spent as much time as they could together. The months slipped by, and then it was August and Brett had to go back to Wisconsin to train for the upcoming season.

 

He was gone nearly a week when Monica made a snap decision. She packed a bag, jumped in her car, and showed up in Green Bay. She planned to visit for a week, but when the week ended neither one of them could say goodbye.

That she decided to stay after such a short courtship might seem risky. But by then the two were so deeply in love nothing else mattered. Monica left behind her job in real estate, and started focusing on learning all she could about football and life in the NFL.

 

At thirty, Brett was thinking more and more about having a family. He talked to Monica and was thrilled that she wanted the same thing. On September 19, he came home long before she’d expected him. He’d left the locker room early that day, something he’d not done before, not even when he’d had the flu, and had rushed to the jeweler to pick up the engagement ring that he’d been planning to give her since July.

 

Brett had made reservations at their favorite restaurant, a perfect place to pop the question, but he couldn’t wait. He dropped to one knee, pulled out the ring, and proposed. Monica, so excited, kept saying, “Yes, yes, yes,” and later had to ask him to repeat exactly what he’d said.

They planned the wedding in just twenty-five days. Monica found her dress in a week. Soon after, she visited Lake Geneva, three hours from Green Bay and the home of Brett’s cousin. It happened to be Lake Geneva’s wedding extravaganza weekend. Many of the boats on the lake had been turned into bridal venues, and there she found nearly everything she needed for the wedding, including the location.

 

They set the date for November 1, the only week during the football season Brett had off. Family and friends made plans to fly in. Four of Monica’s best friends would be bridesmaids. Brett’s brother would be best man, and Packers’ quarterback Aaron Rodgers, punter Tim Masthay, and placekicker Mason Crosby agreed to serve as groomsmen.

 

For two days the weather had been miserable, with freezing rain, but when their wedding day arrived the sun was shining. They’d set a heated tent up on the grounds of the Abbey Springs Yacht Club, near the water. Monica wanted it to look like something enchanted, and that’s what she got. There were antlers in the flower arrangements to represent the South, flower petals gently falling, barn wood accents that made it look a little rustic, even a flower-covered fireplace lit with candles. The fifty guests who attended were in awe.

 

For Brett, though, all the beauty rested in Monica. She seemed to float down the aisle, and she took his breath away. “It brought tears to my eyes,” Brett says. “She was so pretty. And the way the sun was shining on her, she just lit up.”

 

“The day we got married, and the day before, at the rehearsal dinner, were the happiest two days of my life,” Monica says. “It was two families coming together and a lot of happiness.”

 

As soon as the ceremony ended, everyone, including the bride and groom, boarded the boat that was waiting nearby, and that’s where they had their cocktail hour. In that time, the wedding tent was transformed into the reception venue with great food, lush flowers, wooden tables flanked by Lucite chairs, and lots of candlelight. It was opulent and charming. There was a band per forming and Brett joined in, playing guitar.

 

What they wanted when they first decided to spend their lives together was a family. Just a few weeks after the wedding, Monica was pregnant. Right now they’re getting two nurseries ready, one in Fort Smith and one in Wisconsin, since they’ll be living in both places. Brett loves having Monica with him, seeing her in the stands, while 80,000 people watch, knowing she’s cheering so hard she’ll be hoarse at the end of the game.

 

Monica touches her husband’s hand.  They are a stunning couple. Brett, dark-haired, six foot one, the kind of muscular that comes from NFL-designed workouts, and Monica, blonde, beautiful, radiant. She says, “I would have gone to Vegas and married him the first night I went to his house. I’m not even kidding. I knew the minute he opened the door. Ask anyone who knows him, and no one has a bad word to say about him. He’s humble. He has faith, but he’s not overly preachy. He’s a family guy. He believes in doing what’s right and he does it whether it’s popular or not.”

 

They are thinking now of their son who will be born this summer, and of his future, and all this love they have to give him. Will he play football one day? Brett doesn’t know. “If that’s what he wants,” he says. “I want him to follow his dreams.”

 

Brett is a good person to talk to about dreams. He’s had his share. And all the important ones have come true.

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