When a woman writes a book called Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching the Game, I have no other choice but to stalk that woman, beg her to let me interview her, then worship at her altar. Amazingly, I was able to track down the author of said book, the lovely and talented Holly Robinson Peete, and I convinced her to give me a glimpse into her fabulous football world, without her needing to get a restraining order against me! Below I share our candid conversation about her life as an NFL fan and wife, her heartbreaking experience being let go from the daytime show The Talk and what lies ahead for this football loving lady who proves we chicks really can have it all.
Nola Chick: Congrats on your new gig with Mike and Molly!
Holly Robinson Peete: It’s a great show. The writing is tremendous and coming off that whole scenario with The Talk, it was a nicely timed situation. Everybody needs a little pick me up and it came at a really good time. It’s been a minute since I flexed my sitcom muscles.
But guess what I love the most about that set? They are the biggest football fans ever! Every Monday when they do their camera blocking you have to wear a jersey. Can you imagine?! (She screams while I try to dream up a way to “Freaky Friday” our lives.) When they told me that Monday is “jersey day”, I was like, oh my God! Which one do I wear? So that’s a really cool thing about that set. Everybody is so nice and lovely. I’m really excited.
NC: Speaking of your experience on The Talk (CBS daytime’s version of The View), did you feel taken aback, in a good way, by all the support that you got after leaving the show?
HRP: I was surprised. Look, we all have situations that happen that are unfortunate and somebody hurts your feelings or something. I have to tell you, to go online and see this support, this love, it got me through it. It really did. I have to say, there’s a power of social media that can be so awesome.
I’m gonna just be honest and you can quote me, this was all handled very, very, very, poorly. People lose jobs everyday but there’s a way to do things. And usually when you lose your job, you sit down in front of the boss and the boss says, I can’t keep you for x,y reasons and then you’re like, oh that’s jacked up, I’m fired. But then you move on. In this situation, neither one of us (Holly or co-host Leah Remini) were given that audience and we were never able to have a talk with the boss and we were never able to be told why. So when you have that sort of excommunication and that disrespect, it can really hurt your feelings because we laid our heart and soul out for this job.
People took it very personally, because the show was launched with the help of a lot of mom bloggers. (Their responses) were tremendously heartwarming. And Leah and I, we’ve had so many conversations about it and we feel like we know these people personally. We’ve read their tweets, we’ve read their blogs, we’ve seen their emails and we know about their calls to the network. We know about their unanswered questions to the network. And for us, it meant the world. I’m not even gonna lie. It meant the world.
NC: And let’s clear it up here and now that you and Leah were not in some wrestling match and that led to all this?
HRP: There was no wrestling match. If anything, what we had was tremendous chemistry together on camera and that realness was extremely honest and on camera for everyone to see and that is what I think people responded to. The reason we were not asked back had nothing to do with how we got along. If anything, we probably got along too well.
NC: Alright, let’s talk football. What made you such a big fan?
HRP: Because I was born in Philadelphia and my dad bled Eagles green and my earliest memories are that when the Eagles won, I got my tasty cakes. And when the Eagles lost, I didn’t. When the Eagles won, I got a Good Humor Toasted Almond Bar. When they lost, I didn’t. When the Eagles won, I got pretty much whatever the hell I wanted that week. When they lost, my dad was in a bad mood.
Then of course, cut to 30 years later, my husband was the quarterback of the Eagles and that was a dream wrapped inside a fairytale wrapped inside a fantasy for my dad. You cannot think of anybody else sports-wise in Philadelphia that could have made him more proud for me to be married to than the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. The downside of that is because he was so tied to the team, if Rodney had a bad game, he’d be mad at my husband!
NC: What was it like being at those games not just as a fan of the team but the wife of a player?
HRP: When I met Rodney, he made the mistake of sharing the playbook with me. So the night before the game, we would go over the plays and the formations and I’d sort of quiz him. He liked it better when I didn’t ask questions about what things actually meant. I started asking him “What does that formation mean?” And he’d be like “Oh no.” So then he starts telling me what those things meant. So after the game, I’d say, “Well, what happened on that play?” He’d be like “Uh, well you know the receiver just ran the wrong route” And I’d be like “No, no, no, because you called a audible and that was that play we talked about the other night.” And he’d be like “Aww, damn!” So he created a monster.
The good news is, since he retired I can watch the game without the stress of it impacting our livelihood. (In the league) your entire life is surrounded by it: Christmas, Thanksgiving, everything. The NFL stops for nobody. As a matter of fact, the NFL IS the holiday.
NC: Would you say your heart still belongs to the Eagles?
HRP: I’d say yes. The memory of my dad, absolutely, absolutely.
Now playing for the Eagles was different from being an Eagles fan growing up. And that was hard because we all know the legendary Eagles fans and how passionate, that’s the nicest way I can put it, they are. But I did once get pelted in the head by the last piece of somebody’s cheese-steak at a game. I’ve seen the ugly side of Eagles fans. I’ve seen the ugliness of it but I’ve also had some really amazing times. The highs are so high and the lows can be really really low.
And can I just say at this point how happy I am that there was no Twitter out there when Rodney was active. Shaneika, I would have gotten that man fired from every team he played for. I would have been cussing out linemen. They would have had to muzzle my finger and duct tape me and hide me in a closet. I would get in trouble just for listening to WIP radio, the Philly sports channel, because I would be getting so mad. But if I could actually tweet my feelings about it, it would have been on and popping!
NC: It must be hard. You’re married to the quarterback of the team AND you’re a fan. What were some of the biggest challenges for you?
HRP: For me the hardest thing was not the fans and the media, the hardest thing was dealing with my damn relatives because they’re fans and they get mad at the team. They turn on you. Our Philly years were very difficult. To be in your hometown with your husband as the captain of the team and you gotta hear “Well, why did this happen and why did that happen? I mean, my relatives would wear me out. My aunt was 60 years old and talking mess. So when we left that team, I felt the good part for me is that I didn’t have to hear from them anymore. Because they would stay talking trash, but still asking for free tickets!
NC: Why do you think so many women are flocking to the game?
HRP: Women have been watching football for a long time. When I met Rodney in ’93, my first question was: “Why is the NFL not getting that they have this entire (under-served) fan base.” We used to do Super Bowl events for women and get sanctioned by the league. And I would say to them, can we get something other than a dang pink football every now and then?
When I wrote my football book, then literally went out on the road and did my football 101s for different teams, I was shocked at how little paraphernalia there was for women. I thought it was just some macho “This is our club. We don’t want to let them in” thing.
So it’s good to see now all those commercials with all the women in their apparel and you know the real, not just superficial, embrace of the breast cancer movement. That’s all really great to see now because I remember back in the day when you couldn’t even get anybody on the phone to talk about football.
NC: Have you ever thought of doing a follow up to your book, Get Your Own Damn Beer, I’m Watching the Game?
HRP: I’ve been trying. I’ve been begging the publishers to let me remake it. A lot of the players I talked about are not in the league anymore. The whole social media thing had not really taken off when I wrote that book. I’ve been trying to get the publisher to update it because I think I would like to shorten it and make it a little more reader friendly. There’s so many more things to write about and I just haven’t gotten them to see that yet. I can not wait to do a follow up.
NC: Any advice for newcomers to the game?
HRP: I think the NFL is like a soap opera for guys. There’s always some back story. There’s always some coach talking mess. And what I tell my girlfriends who are really not into the x’s and o’s at all, is check out the back story and the matchups. If it’s Revis and the Jets, you want to know who he’s gonna match up against. Some of the coolest stuff to watch is the defense and the matchups to see who will make a play.
NC: Do you have any game day superstitions or rituals?
HRP: I would wear a jersey that was a specific jersey that I felt, whenever I wore that jersey, we won. I also had a really great candle that I called my “magic candle.” It was a football and I used to burn it the night before. I mean girl, I tried everything. I would pull out a Ouija board. There wasn’t a thing I wouldn’t try to get a win.